Steve Reoutt: Remembering What Defines Community

The Steve Reoutt Memorial Exhibition runs September 1–10 in the Nave.View slideshow 

I paint portraits. Whether of people, trees, shoes, condiments, landscapes. Whatever.

~ Professor Emeritus Steve Reoutt

The Steve Reoutt Memorial Exhibition is on display in the rear of the Nave until September 10. A longtime California College of the Arts Graphic Design faculty member (41 years to be exact) and professor emeritus, Reoutt also was a book illustrator, curator, painter, and genuinely appreciated and loved member of the CCA community.

Steve Reoutt passed away May 14, 2008, of pancreatic cancer. He was born in 1938 in Shanghai to Russian parents. He came to the United States when he was just 12 years old. He went on to cofound the San Francisco chapter of the AIGA, including serving a nine-year board position as design historian. In 2001 Reoutt received the AIGA Fellowship award for “personal and professional contributions to raising the standards of excellence within our design community."

CCA Director of Research & Planning David Meckel spoke at the opening reception for the Steve Reoutt Memorial Exhibition, which took place Tuesday, September 1, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on the San Francisco campus. Held in the rear of the Nave, the evening featured an impressive aggregation of family and friends, among which was Reoutt’s longtime movie buddy (and subject of a portrait on display), Olga Barber, students, and faculty, including CCA stalwart Graphic Design professor Michael Vanderbyl, chair Cinthia Wen, and former program chair Mark Fox.

According to Wen: "CCA is indeed losing a wonderful resource, but Steve Reoutt's teaching lives on in those he has taught and in those who have since returned to teach at CCA."

The Steve Reoutt Memorial Exhibition is a wonderful way not only to view the artist’s work where it shines brightest—upon the walls of the college where his commitment to art was most evident—but also to witness the trajectory of an accomplished illustrator, painter, and writer whose passion for illustration history made him an invaluable resource for other college faculty.

In fact, it was at the invitation of Wolfgang Lederer, chairman of then-named CCAC’s Graphic Design department for four decades, that led to Reoutt’s full-time teaching career at CCA, specializing in the field of graphic design and illustration history, which he continued to teach up until his retirement in May 2008, just weeks prior to his death.

And it was at Reoutt’s retirement celebration that he was bestowed by resolution of the CCA board the status of professor emeritus of graphic design “in recognition of his service of distinction as respected teacher, exemplary mentor, and cherished colleague."

Yet it is by no means just faculty and staff who will miss Reoutt here at CCA. Student Justin Holbrook wrote: “I met Steve . . . upon entering CCA, and took his History of Visual Communication course during the spring semester. I enjoyed his insight and his sense of humor during the class, and despite knowing him only a short time, he made a big impact on me. . . . I am deeply saddened . . . .”

Imagine having this kind of effect on students over a period of 41 years at the college.

As we mourn Reoutt’s passing we celebrate his legacy and pause to give thanks for his profound and lasting influence on all of the communities he touched.

California College of the Arts is creating a named scholarship in honor of Steve Reoutt. Tax-deductible donations can be sent to:

CCA / Steve Reoutt Scholarship 

CCA Advancement

5212 Broadway
Oakland CA 94601

Make checks payable to “CCA.” Please also include a note or indicate on the check the gift is being made toward the Steve Reoutt Scholarship.

You may also donate online by selecting "Student Scholarships" as the Purpose of Gift and entering Steve Reoutt in the "gift in honor/memory of" field.

Steve Reoutt's website
SF AIGA Community news
San Francisco Chronicle

Photos: Steve Reoutt’s retirement celebration