As cultural and educational nexuses, they must explore creative ways of engaging with diverse audiences
The Institute and Museum of California Art (IMCA) at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) is profoundly saddened by the passing of longtime friend and donor, Madeline Martin Swinden. She was a dedicated volunteer at the museum, known for her generosity and warm hospitality that created a spirit of welcome to all visitors.
She also was extensively involved at UCI, having served as president of the School of Medicine Research Associates, and as an advisory board member of both the Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine and the Department of Neurology.
Mrs. Swinden was further active as a volunteer and philanthropist at other cultural and educational organizations in Southern California. She served on the board of the Mission Preservation Foundation in San Juan Capistrano, Kidworks in Santa Ana, and the Crystal Cove Alliance in Laguna Beach. She also chaired the community outreach advisory board of the Joan Irvine Smith & Athalie R. Clarke Foundation.
A native Californian and a resident of Laguna Beach, Mrs. Swinden attended the University of Southern California. She was also a graduate of the Gemological Institute of America and had a five-decade career designing and selling fine jewelry.
Mrs. Swinden is survived by her husband, UCI Foundation Trustee James Irvine Swinden, and their son, James Irvine Swinden, Jr. She left an indelible mark on the museum, UCI, and regional community, and IMCA sends its deepest condolences to her family.
IMCA Announces the Retirement of Jean Stern, Senior Curator of California Impressionism
The University of California, Irvine’s Institute and Museum of California Art (IMCA) today announced the retirement of Jean Stern, Senior Curator of California Impressionism at IMCA since 2016, effective June 30, 2020. A leading authority on California Impressionism, he is also Executive Director Emeritus of The Irvine Museum (the collection is now part of IMCA) where he served for over 28 years.
Throughout his career, Stern worked to heighten awareness of the school of California Impressionism through a noteworthy series of exhibitions, books, lectures, articles, and video documentaries. He has presented over 250 lectures, and judged and juried more than 100 local, national, and international art competitions.
Stern said, "It has been an honor to help develop our historic art heritage and to work with the staff and with so many dedicated art collectors. As part of the UCI Institute and Museum of California Art, The Irvine Museum Collection will continue to inspire and educate our community as well as generations to come."
IMCA Museum Director Kim Kanatani said, “While we understand Jean’s resolve to direct his passion for and extraordinary command of the history of California Impressionism beyond our campus, we are profoundly grateful to him for his countless contributions to UCI and the field. The IMCA community is indebted to him for his foresight in creating widespread appreciation of the California experience expressed through this unique genre. We wish him all the best with this next chapter of his life.”
To celebrate his legacy, IMCA also announced the launch of the Jean Stern Acquisitions Fund to further deepen its holdings of California Impressionist works. As UCI coronavirus protocols permit, IMCA will host a virtual celebration for Stern and the launch of this initiative in July. His collection building acumen and curatorial insights will remain an integral part of IMCA programming through 2021. When UCI health protocols allow the IMCA to reopen, his curated exhibition, Radiant Impressions, will showcase highlights from The Irvine Museum Collection paired with complementary loaned artworks. The exhibition considers ways the selected artists engaged with light, for its optical qualities and through metaphor where ephemeral moments are infused with meaning.
In 2017, Stern received the prestigious Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters from the French Ministry of Culture. He has also been presented with lifetime achievement awards from the Laguna Plein Air Painters Association in 2013, the Plein Air Painters of America in 2014, and by Plein Air Magazine in 2014. He currently serves on the board of the California Art Club, founded in 1909, and is a board adviser to the Laguna Plein Air Painters Association. Prior to joining the UCI community, Stern directed Jean Stern Fine Paintings, his gallery in Encino.
He received his B.A. from California State University, Northridge, and M.A. in Art History from San Diego State University. His doctoral studies in American Art were conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles.
The University of California, Irvine’s Institute and Museum of California Art (IMCA) and Claire Trevor School of the Arts (CTSA) community mourns the passing of artist Peter Alexander—a Los Angeles native and seminal figure in the Light and Space movement forged in California in the 1960s.
Alexander and UCI had several interactions spanning decades. He was a guest lecturer in the Department of Art in fall 1971 and winter 1972 and previously, as a student of architecture, worked several summers for the office of William Pereira, UCI’s master planner. He would later enroll at UCLA as an art major, where he studied under Richard Diebenkorn, among other California art-world luminaries.
The artist was the subject of a monographic exhibition in 1974, Peter Alexander / Sunsets, presented in the UCI University Art Gallery on campus and organized by Hal Glicksman, then director of the Gallery. The exhibition comprised work based on signature subject matter for Alexander, sunsets, done in photography and pastel and on canvas and velvet. The artist created three lithographs for the selection.
There are seven works in IMCA’s collection that were part of the Gerald Buck bequest—examples of his groundbreaking resin sculptures and vibrant paintings exploring qualities of light, scale, pigment, and materiality.
When IMCA mounted the exhibition First Glimpse: Introducing The Buck Collection, on view from September 29, 2018‒January 5, 2019 in the CTSA, two of Alexander’s works were featured. His powerful urban nightscape Thrasher (1992) was a highlight of the exhibition co-curated by Stephen Barker, dean, CTSA; Kevin Appel, UCI chair, Department of Art and associate director, IMCA; and Cécile Whiting, UCI chair, Department of Art History. There was an artist talk with Alexander and another seminal artist, Chuck Arnoldi, moderated by Professor Appel recorded on November 16, 2018 available on YouTube.
His innovative practice, pioneering spirit, and influence on a generation of artists are indelibly written in the history of California art and remain as a touchstone for remembrance and inspiration.
We send our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.