A Living Legend is Celebrated at the San Diego History Center

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On December 15th, the San Diego History Center is opening an exhibition showcasing key works and moments in the remarkable six-decade career of pioneering artist Bob Matheny.

Matheny Art Disposal Service Uniform Courtesy Photo

When Bob Matheny started his career sixty years ago, in 1958, he began as a graphic designer — long before Photoshop and digital tools were available. In 1961 he became the first full-time art instructor at Southwestern College where he taught for thirty years. Matheny still maintains an active art practice with thought-provoking work and a unique perspective.

The San Diego History Center in the heart of Balboa Park rarely exhibits work from living artists but will be opening the Bob Matheny: Almost Anonymous exhibit on December 15th to pay tribute to the remarkable influence Matheny has had on San Diego art in his lifetime. It will be the first major museum survey of the work of and will run until March 24, 2019.

Matheny has developed his expansive practice through the lens of many different disciplines and mediums, including graphic design, sculpture, small press printing, painting, writing, photography, curating, and performance.  Grounded in the formal tenets of modernist design, and with a healthy dose of Dada irreverence and Duchampian hijinks, Matheny’s diverse body of work is a singular blend of craftsmanship and concept, idea and object, wit and intelligence.

Covering the full breadth of his career, the exhibition is composed of over 70 multidisciplinary works, including Matheny’s early experiments with typography and small press printing from the late 1950s; his signature  series of Letter Form paintings and sculptures from the 1960s; documentation of intermedia performances and happenings from the 1970s to the present day; a selection of “assisted readymade” sculptures and collaborative works;  and recent hard-edge paintings. Many of the works in the exhibition have never been on public view.

Kaytie Johnson, Bruce Kamerling Curator at the San Diego History Center, and curator of the exhibition, shares, “Matheny’s diverse, often idiosyncratic body of work resists categorization and defies expectations, and distinguishes him as a truly unique and significant artistic voice in San Diego and beyond.”

The grand opening of Bob Matheny: Almost Anonymous is December 15th from 4pm-6pm at the San Diego History Center: 1649 El Prado, Suite 3 San Diego, CA 92101.

The event is free and open to the public. RSVP here.

Michelle Stansbury is a freelance food, travel, and lifestyle writer. Feel free to reach out to her at [email protected] with story ideas!

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