California art historian, writer, instructor, and curator, Melinda Wortz (1940-2002), taught at the University of California, Irvine, from 1975, serving as Director of UCI's Fine Arts Gallery and Chair of the Department of Studio Art. Wortz's special area of interest was the work of the California "light and space" artists emerging in Los Angeles in the 1970s.
After attending Stanford University and graduating from Radcliffe College with a bachelors degree in art history, Wortz received her masters degree in art history from the University of California, Los Angeles, and her doctorate in theology and the arts from the Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley. Wortz taught at California State University and the University of California Extension in the early 1970s. At UCI her colleagues included Judy Baca, Sandy Ballatore, Tony Delap, Craig Kauffman, and Rena Small.
Wortz married Edward C. Wortz in the early 1970s, following her divorce from her first husband, Thomas G. Terbell, Jr. Edward Wortz's first career was as a research scientist working on NASA contracts in the air research industry in Colorado and California. Later he was involved in the arts and participated in collaborations with artists including Robert Irwin, Coy Howard, and James Turrell. He worked with Melinda Wortz to develop their personal collection of contemporary art.
Melinda Wortz was a prolific writer who wrote extensively for national art periodicals, including Arts Magazine, and Art News. She also wrote, and served as editor, for the California periodical Artweek from the 1960s to 1990s. She wrote numerous catalogs for artists including Larry Bell, Cork Marchesi, Doug Moran, Beth Ames Schwartz, and James Turrell; and published articles on Dan Flavin, Robert Irwin, Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella, and others. She lectured at Brown University, the Center for Art, Salt Lake City, Contemporary Art Museum, La Jolla, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the San Diego Museum, Wellesley College, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and many other institutions. In 1989 she traveled to the U.S.S.R. to deliver a paper on Robert Irwin at the International Art Critics Association annual meeting.
In addition to her curatorial work at the UCI Fine Arts Gallery, where she organized exhibitions for artists including Alice Aycock, Jonathan Borofsky, Audrey Flack, Jack Ox, and Dennis Oppenheim, Wortz curated exhibitions for University of California sister colleges, Pasadena Art Museum, and others.
Wortz received UCI and National Endowment for the Arts grants in support of her writing, and served on advisory boards of the Contemporary Arts Forum, Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, Santa Barbara, Robert Rauschenberg's foundation, Advisory Board of Change, Inc., the Pasadena Art Museum, and others.
Wortz was diagnosed with Alzheimers disease at the age of 50 and died in 2002.