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Melinda Wortz papers, 1958-1992

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Stephanie Ashley
Scope and Contents
The papers of California art historian, writer, instructor, and curator, Melinda Wortz (1940-2002) date from 1958-1992, and measure 17.45 linear feet. The collection includes documentation of Wortz's tenure at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), where she specialized in collecting and presenting the California Light and Space artists during the 1970s and 1980s. Wortz's papers include biographical information, personal and professional correspondence, interview transcripts and sound recordings, professional and student writings and notes, diaries of five trips abroad, UCI administrative, dossier, and teaching files, general subject and artist files, printed material, several pieces of artwork; and photographs.
Wortz's biographical material includes annotated appointment books and calendars, resumes, and some family, financial, and legal records.
Correspondence files document Wortz's activities beyond her work at UCI, including scattered correspondence with artists such as Eleanor Antin, Daniel Barber, Christo, Craig Kauffman, Cork Marchesi, Martha Rosler, Eve Sonneman, Hap Tivey, and Elsa Warner. Correspondence also relates to arrangements for lectures, juries, panels, symposiums, and other professional activities in which Wortz participated.
Interviews include transcripts of four interviews conducted by Wortz with subjects including Peter Lodato and Dewain Valentine, and a sound recording of an interview with Nina Wiener.
Writings and notes include drafts, and some published copies, of articles and essays written for journals, magazines, and exhibition catalogs; Wortz's dissertation and thesis; notes; student essays and class notes; and scattered writings by others. Included in the published works are copies of Artweek containing articles by Wortz, and drafts and published copies of essays on Larry Bell, Robert Irwin, Jasper Johns, Jay McCafferty, Isamu Noguchi, Robert Rauschenberg, Klaus Rinke, Beth Ames Schwartz, and James Turrell.
Diaries document five separate overseas trips to locations including Asia in 1977, Paris in 1978, and the U.S.S.R., where Wortz delivered a paper on Robert Irwin, in 1989.
University of California, Irvine, records include Wortz's administrative files documenting her work on various committees, her directorship of the Fine Arts Gallery, including budget and exhibition records, her work as Chair of Studio Art, and her collaborations with other faculty, including Judy Baca, Sandy Ballatore, Tony Delap, Craig Kauffman, and Rena Small. Wortz's dossier files provide a thorough record of her accomplishments from the late 1970s-1990, and her UCI teaching files document the content of core art courses which she taught at UCI in the 1970s and 1980s.
Subject files provide additional documentation of Wortz's interest in particular artists and subjects, and include scattered correspondence with artists, as well as additional correspondence, reports, printed material, index card files, sound cassettes, and photographs, documenting her interests in art and politics, feminism, religion and spirituality, museum management and training, and other subjects.
Printed material includes announcements, catalogs, journals, newsletters, and material specifically documenting Wortz's activities.
Artwork includes a piece of floor covering from a Jim Dine exhibition, a booklet by Daniel Barber, Flams by Rena Livkin, and several pieces of unidentified artwork.
Photographs include photos of Wortz with her family and with UCI faculty including Tony DeLap, Craig Kauffman, and Ed Moses; photos of events with friends and family, including Hap Tivey's wedding to Liza Todd with Elizabeth Taylor in attendance; photos of artists including Frederick Eversley, Bill Harding, Jack Ox, and Stephen Zaimo; and photos of artwork by artists including Tony DeLap, Barbara Smith, Marc Van Der Marck, and others.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection was donated by Edward C. Wortz, Melinda Wortz's husband, in 1994.
Support for the processing of this collection was provided by the Smithsonian's Collections Care Pool Fund.
Processing Information
The collection was processed and a finding aid prepared by Stephanie Ashley in 2017 with support from the Smithsonian Institution's Collections Care Pool Fund, using accelerated processing strategies implemented by the Archives to increase information about and access to more of our collections. For this collection, accelerated processing included arrangement to the series and folder levels, adhering to the creator's original arrangement as much as possible. Generally, folder contents were simply verified with the original folder titles, but items within folders were not arranged further. All materials were rehoused in archival folders and boxes for long-term stability, but staples and other fasteners have not all been removed.