Thursday, October 16, 2014



I met George Manupelli when he worked at the San Francisco Art Institute, as Dean,  during the     early 1980's.  I was working in the Library as the cataloging assistant and I was also a student. George's position as Dean meant that he was to oversee the Library. And what a kind, loving and jolly "overseer" he was! He would regularly come by and pop his head in just to see how we were doing --- he would call these "spot checks". He was mainly coming by to say hello, catch up --- he trusted that we cared about our jobs, the school. And we did. We, (the library staff), started to jokingly refer to him as "Dad", and we called him that to his face. Somedays, the library staff  engaged in the invigorating  practice of playing basketball on our break time and George would often join us. One time, we even had a much touted and anticipated basketball game after work --- the Library vs. the Tool Room. George played on our library team. Guess who won? 

When George became involved with his Nicaragua work he asked those of us working and studying at the Art Institute if we wanted to give him any art or greetings to bring to the people of Nicaragua.  I responded with a proof of a print that I had altered with a message in Spanish. George reciprocated by
making me this lovely shadow box that has a photo of my print being examined by Nicaraguan cultural
workers. I was so surprised and touched by his generosity. On the back of the piece is written:
"For Diana, may the struggle bring much peace. George".

Lastly, I have posted, below, a copy of the introduction that George wrote for the San Francisco Art Institute College Bulletin, 1983/1984.  His beautiful words are just as sadly relevant today, as they were then. When a group of us students mounted a political art show in the Diego Rivera Gallery, (remember -- this was the early 1980's --- art at SFAI was different then:), we typed out this intro, photographed it, and mounted it on the wall. I think that George's tenure as Dean gave some of us, who were very much in the minority then, a sense of the appropriateness or rightness of expressing ourselves politically in our art. I so loved these words that, in 1999,  I used them in a series of pieces that I made for a site specific temporary installation in the SFAI library as part of an Artists' Committee show. I sent George some slides of these pieces and that was the last time that I was in touch with him.

Thank you, George, for teaching me some stuff about art and humanness. And yes, about struggle.  (I am so happy to learn that you were still fighting for what you believed in, and making things up until your last days.) May you now be at peace.  And know that you are missed --- it's a wee bit duller here!

Buon Viaggio. Arrivederci….
Diana Maria Rossi
Berkeley, 2014

No comments:

Post a Comment