Spotlight on UC Davis’ Artistic Legacy

September 2014 – During the 1960s, UC Davis was a place where some of the nation’s most adventuresome artists worked and taught, thriving in a protected hothouse of creativity.


“California Artist” by Robert Arneson

This artistic flowering is in the spotlight again in the new exhibition “Fertile Ground: Art and Community in California” at the Oakland Museum of California. It examines how the university became a force in contemporary art in California and beyond with pioneering art department faculty members Robert Arneson, Wayne Thiebaud, William T. Wiley, Roy De Forest and Manuel Neri, and students Bruce Nauman, Deborah Butterfield, Peter Vandenberge and David Gilhooly.

“Davis was a crucible and cradle of so many important developments,” says Drew Johnson, the museum curator of photography and visual culture and one of the curators of the exhibition. “It offered a remarkable set of circumstances where the artists had tremendous freedom.”

The joint exhibition brings together works from its two organizers, the Oakland Museum of California and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art— their first collaboration, in fact. Continue reading

Alumna Ann E. Pitzer makes major donation for classroom and recital hall


November 2014 – A new classroom and recital hall building at the University of California, Davis, will be named the Ann E. Pitzer Center to honor an alumna who donated $5 million toward the building. The gift from the late Ann E. Pitzer and the naming were announced Thursday (Nov. 13) evening at a reception for the UC Davis Foundation Board and guests.

Pitzer, a well-known California philanthropist, graduated from UC Davis in 1958 with a degree in home economics and was a longtime and active supporter of the university. She died on Oct.15.

“Ann was a tremendous alumna and friend of UC Davis who always said her motivation for giving to UC Davis was to ensure our students would have the same great experience at UC Davis that she had,” Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi said. “This building, which will provide important classroom space to all UC Davis students, is a shining example of Ann’s lasting legacy, her commitment to her alma mater and to all Aggie students, and her love of music.” Continue reading

Students are Runway Ready

student-working-on-fashion-in-class_March 2015 – Sewing machines click and hum, scissors whip through fabric and somber gray mannequins are brought to life as they’re draped in outfits of red, blue, purple and white. It’s the Cruess Hall sewing lab at UC Davis — “Project Runway,” but without all the drama.

The 20 students in the studio are all design majors, most near graduation, and, combined, the four-to-six-piece fashion collection each creates during the class will be the centerpiece of the UC Davis Picnic Day Fashion Show April 18.

Since the Fashion Show started 28 years ago as an independent study group, it has become one of Picnic Day’s most popular events. Then, in 2005, design professor Susan Avila created the class, DES 179 “Signature Collection,” to put the show together. This is the first year Avila, now Department of Design chair, hasn’t taught the class.

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Jeffrey Thomas: Big on Bach


April 2014 – If you’re blown away by the music of Johann Sebastian Bach — or want to be — Jeffrey Thomas is the man to see.

Thomas, professor of music at UC Davis, is artistic and music director of the American Bach Soloists, which just kicked off a weeklong festival that provides a total Bach immersion.

The festival , which runs through July 20 at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, traces Bach’s influences with performances of music by Antonio Vivaldi, Giovanni Pergolesi, Georg Melchior Hoffmann and Dieterich Buxtehude as well as Bach’s Mass in B Minor. That mass is considered one of the most important works in Western music.

“We focus on the music of Johann Sebastian Bach to a degree that is far beyond the pursuits of any other historically informed performance ensemble in the country,” said Thomas, who leads several choruses and teaches choral conducting and early music at UC Davis.

“While other very fine early music ensembles typically present concerts that offer a fairly broad range of music, we have kept our focus on our namesake.” Continue reading

Festival showcases riches and reach of UC Davis music department

January 2015 – The University of California, Davis, will be new music central for the Music and Words Festival Jan. 27-31. The festival exploring the intersection of text and sound will include concerts of landmark works from the last 50 years and new pieces by emerging composers, along with residences by internationally known musicians. Music and Words is a collaboration between the UC Davis Department of Music, and the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts.

“The festival allows us to present important contemporary works and premieres of new works while broadening the reach of the UC Davis music program,” said composer Sam Nichols, a lecturer in the music department and festival co-director. “It’s a way for us to show the important work the music department is doing and connect the department and our students to the wider musical world.”

Among the performances:

  • Three concerts by the acclaimed group Sō Percussion.
  • Performances of three pieces by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Melinda Wagner, festival composer-in-residence.
  • Luciano Berio’s rarely heard Sinfonia and Wagner’s Pulitzer-winning piece performed by the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra.
  • A rare regional performance by Bob Ostertag, sound pioneer and cinema and technocultural studies professor.

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