Assistant Chair James Gobel
CCA’s Painting/Drawing Program is a strong and solid example of what is possible in contemporary art making.
I have been teaching at the college level for 14 years and have had the opportunity to visit and lecture at many of our country’s finest art institutions.
I say without reservation that among its Bay Area location, combined traditional and experimental curriculum, spacious studio facilities, and diverse and experienced faculty, Painting/Drawing at CCA has a specifically unique and unmatched program. It is a place where rigorous conversations and studio practices come together to form communities.
Bay Area Palette
San Francisco is an exciting place to live as an artist. When I moved here from Southern California, I was curious to see if my work would change. The vibrant Los Angeles art scene would be a tough act to follow. I quickly learned San Francisco is a great place to be a working artist. It’s been an experience that has affected my work so significantly I can’t imagine what I would be doing had I not made the move.
I think it is a culturally eye-opening experience to move into a community as diverse as the Bay Area -- the excitement and energy of the urban environment combined with the artistic, social, and political activism for which the region is known make it a particularly generative space for artists.
Within painting alone, a rich history of art making exists, from the Bay Area figuration movement to the more recent Mission School, that captures the individualistic, rebellious spirit of the region.
Two Campuses; Two Experiences
Having two campuses, one on either side of the bay, situates students in the best of both worlds: the established San Francisco art community; and the revitalized East Bay art scene.
Painting/Drawing students take advantage of spacious studios that house group courses on each campus. Senior studios on the San Francisco campus host senior project courses, wherein the curriculum emphasis is shifted to building the kind of sustained, focused individual practice that prepares students in their transition to becoming a practicing artist or in their decision to pursue their MFA studies.
Core & Creative Curriculum
Required foundation courses in painting, anatomy, life drawing, and media history lay the groundwork for individual exploration and conceptual engagement with contemporary art practices and theory.
And while we strive to give students a strong foundation in traditional 2D painting practices, we also encourage them to take risks and develop their own voice. (As instructors, we take pride in the fact no two students’ work is alike.)
Our innovative curriculum also includes topical and experimental courses. One of my favorite courses to teach is an experimental drawing course -- open to all majors -- in which by using less traditional materials, we investigate the variety of experimental ways to create a drawing.
I am continually amazed by the students’ work, their great enthusiasm to tackle assignments, and by how dramatically changed their self-directed body of work is by the end of the semester.
Also an outstanding strength of the college is the diverse perspectives and wealth of professional experience that each of our faculty contributes to the critical conversation. Because our students are ambitious, they challenge the faculty to continually give our best.
The bonds developed between students and faculty foster a successful transition out into the world. Our students are accepted to the top graduate schools in the country and exhibit their work nationally in renowned galleries in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and beyond.
The Painting/Drawing Program at CCA offers an entrepreneurial spirit at work. It is a resonant energy throughout the college that inevitably draws you in.
James Gobel, Assistant Chair