San Francisco, CA–March 27, 2019—California College of the Arts (CCA) drew 358 supporters to its San Francisco campus for a celebration benefiting CCA student scholarships and honoring Wayne Thiebaud, one of California’s greatest artists and educators. Mr. Thiebaud, who received an honorary doctorate in 1972 from CCA (then California College of Arts and Crafts), returned to campus for an evening of appreciation by long-standing patrons, museum directors, gallery owners, art collectors, artists, architects, renowned scholars, and CCA alumni, students, faculty, and staff.
The annual fundraising event—which grossed over $1.2 million—was helmed by co-chairs and CCA trustees Cathy Podell and Stanlee Gatti and honorary committee chair Lorna Meyer Calas. In his introductory remarks, CCA President Stephen Beal revealed a proclamation by Mayor London Breed declaring March 25 as Wayne Thiebaud Day. Keynote remarks were delivered by highly acclaimed scholar Steven Nash, who curated two major Thiebaud retrospectives, Wayne Thiebaud: A Paintings Retrospective for the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco and Wayne Thiebaud: 70 Years of Painting for the Palm Springs Art Museum. Mr. Nash touched on Mr. Thiebaud’s distinctive painterly style, his dedication to educating young artists, and some personal anecdotes of earlier encounters with Mr. Thiebaud. Then, Mr. Thiebaud delivered impromptu remarks and thanked the crowd, to which he received a standing ovation.
A video tribute featuring an exclusive interview with KQED Forum host Michael Krasny covered Mr. Thiebaud’s approach to being a painter, philosophies on being an artist, the importance of teaching, and his contributions to art history. A moving speech from CCA scholarship recipient Luis Arturo Gomez (Architecture 2023) showcased the importance of supporting young artists in the Bay Area, followed by an energetic real-time donation “raise the paddle” event hosted by Emmy Award–winning radio and television personality Liam Mayclem.
In a surprise close to the evening, a never-before-seen page from Mr. Thiebaud’s sketchbook was auctioned. The page included nine pen-and-ink drawings of compositional studies for his iconic paintings. This raised $42,000 as part of funds for student scholarships.
Leaders of major San Francisco arts institutions who attended include John and Gretchen Berggruen (Owners, Berggruen Gallery), Jennifer Biederbeck (Director, Sotheby’s San Francisco), Gary Garrels (Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture, SFMOMA), Nion McEvoy (Founder, McEvoy Foundation for the Arts), Kelly Purcell (Director, Paul Thiebaud Gallery), Lawrence Rinder (Director, BAMPFA), Lauren Ryan (Partner, Anthony Meier Fine Arts), and Charlie Spalding (Gagosian Gallery, San Francisco).
Notable designers, architects, and artists in-attendance were Sara Bird, Squeak Carnwath, Arthur Gensler Jr., George Jewett, Byron Kuth, Zack Lara, Stanley Saitowitz, Sandy Walker, Alyssa Warnock, and Sonya Yu.
Major cultural and society figures of the San Francisco Bay Area included founder of Hiball Energy Todd Berardi, Victoire Brown, Lorna Meyer Calas and Dennis Calas, Jim and Penny Coulter, vice president of user experience at Google Catherine Courage, John and Ellen Drew, Fred and Shelby Gans, Stanlee Gatti, Michael Krasny, Deedee McMurtry, Michele and Chris Meany, Eileen and Peter Michael, Amanda Michaels, Diana Nelson and John Atwater, Katie Paige, Alexandra Pelosi, Paul Pelosi, Alison Pincus, Cathy and Mike Podell, Leslie Podell, John Pritzker, Clint and Janet Reilly, Norah and Norman Stone, Kim Swig, Katie Traina, Kay Kimpton Walker and Sandy Walker, and Summer Walker.
About the Evening
Festivities began with a lively cocktail reception, where guests enjoyed libations by Rye and musical entertainment by Eric Long. Attendees mingled amid an exhibition curated by CCA alumna Lisa Jonas Taylor (MFA Fine Arts 2014) that brought together work from current students and alumni influenced by Wayne Thiebaud. Artists showcased: Berlin Gabrielle Barrera (Painting and Drawing 2020); Eleni Berg (Ceramics 2019); Rebekah Goldstein (MFA Painting and Drawing 2012); Woody De Othello (MFA Ceramics 2017); and Leah Rosenberg (MFA Painting and Drawing 2008).
Stanlee Gatti Designs created a visually stunning atmosphere, inspired by Mr. Thiebaud’s painting Two Paint Cans (1987), in the tented venue that hosted the evening’s celebration just outside the Nave. Dinner was catered by Paula LeDuc Fine Catering & Events. Wine was generously provided by Vintap-Peregrine Ranch, RMH-River Myst Haven, AldenAlli, and Leo Steen Wines.
Following dinner, CCA President Stephen Beal kicked off the program by highlighting CCA’s major initiatives and the bright future ahead for the college.
“We’re working with MacArthur Award–winning architect Jeanne Gang to design our new campus, which will be a living, learning laboratory for creative experimentation in the heart of San Francisco,” stated President Beal. “This exciting future is possible thanks to the legacy of CCA faculty and alumni and by the world class, creative community in the Bay Area. Wayne Thiebaud is surely one of the most distinguished leaders of that community.”
Mr. Nash spoke next, highlighting several of Mr. Thiebaud’s achievements, committed work ethic, and inspiration for younger artists.
“Through his work as an artist and educator,” recalled Mr. Nash, “[Wayne Thiebaud] has demonstrated that the practice of a professional artist is an elevated, esteemed, and gratified calling. His profound dedication to craft is what drives him to work in his studio almost every day of his life. His great modesty and his concern for art as a humanistic necessity make him an outstanding role model for any student.”
The evening then turned to celebrate the students who directly benefit from the school’s scholarships. Current CCA student Luis Arturo Gomez (Architecture 2023) spoke to the hard work it took for him to pursue a degree in architecture, the incredible experiences CCA offered him, and the indispensable help that student scholarships provided.
“When it came time to apply to college, I had my sights set on CCA for its architecture program. I applied and was accepted, knowing very well that we could not afford it,” said Mr. Gomez. “Now I am here, living this dream at CCA, and it has been everything that I imagined and hoped for. I know how lucky I am for this opportunity and I make the most of every day.”
About CCA’s Scholarship Program
CCA devotes 27 percent of its annual budget to student scholarships. Two of every three CCA students receive scholarship support of some kind. The college firmly believes that an excellent art and design education is only made possible with the inclusion of diverse persons and perspectives on campus and that financial barriers should never prevent any talented, committed student from enrolling at CCA.
To achieve this goal, CCA dedicates significant institutional resources to need-based aid, with the scholarship fund being its highest fundraising priority.
About Wayne Thiebaud
Wayne Thiebaud (b. 1920 Mesa, Arizona) is an award-winning American painter and university educator based in Northern California. Mr. Thiebaud gained national and international acclaim in the 1960s as a painter of American confectionaries, landscapes, cities, and people. His innovative painterly style straddles two major art movements—Realism and Pop Art—creating a unique artistic voice rooted in the West Coast. As he gained notoriety as a painter, he remained a passionate and dedicated arts educator at the Department of Art at the University of California, Davis, where he cultivated a career as a highly respected professor until his retirement in 1991. In time at UC Davis, he was named Distinguished Art Studio Teacher of the Year by the College Art Association of America for his teaching and mentorship that has impacted generations of younger artists across California and the nation.
Mr. Thiebaud has received numerous civic awards in recognition of his prolific painting career. The city of San Francisco has presented him with the San Francisco Arts Commission Award of Honor for distinguished services in the arts in 1987. The same year, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce awarded him the Cyril Magnin Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in the Arts. In 1991, the state of California bestowed Mr. Thiebaud with the Governor's Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts. Then, in 1994, he received the National Medal of Arts Presidential Award from President Bill Clinton.
Major art institutions and galleries in the Bay Area, such as SFMOMA, Legion of Honor, de Young Museum, Oakland Museum of Art, San Jose Museum of Art, and Berggruen Gallery, continue to collect and present Wayne Thiebaud’s artwork to Bay Area audiences to this day.