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Oral history interview with James Melchert, 1991 Apr. 4-5

Melchert, Jim, 1930-

Ceramicist, Sculptor, Educator


Collection Information

Size: 90 Pages, Transcript

Format: Originally recorded on 5 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 9 digital wav files. Duration is 4 hrs., 38 min.

Summary: An interview of James Melchert conducted in Oakland, Calif., 1991 Apr.4-5, by Mady Jones, for the Archives of American Art.
Melchert discusses his background; attending the University of Chicago for his MFA in painting; discovering his interest in clay; studying under Peter Voulkos at the Bray Foundation and following him to Berkeley in the Decorative Arts Dept.; artists at Berkeley at the time; teaching ceramics at the San Francisco Art Institute; the art scene in San Francisco; working for the National Endowment for the Arts; moving to Rome to work for the American Academy in Rome; and his future plans. Among the many artists and administrators he recalls are Rudy Autio, Millard Sheets, Bob Arneson, Stephen de Staebler, Jacques Schnier, Peter Selz, Bruce Connor, Bruce Nauman, Manuel Neri, Joan Brown, Susan Peterson, Fred Martin, Ron Nagle, Grace Morley, and Carlos Villa.

Biographical/Historical Note

Jim Melchert (1930- ) is a sculptor, teacher, and art administrator of Oakland, Calif. Chairman, Ceramics Dept., San Francisco Art Institute, 1961-1964. Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, 1965-1976. Federal grants chairman of the visual arts for the National Endowment of the Arts in the late 1970s.


This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators. Funding for this interview provided by the Lannan Foundation.


Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.

How to Use This Collection

ACCESS RESTRICTED; use requires written permission.

Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with James Melchert, 1991 Apr. 4-5. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.