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Berggruen Gallery Celebrates Institute of the Arts and Sciences

The esteemed John Berggruen Gallery in San Francisco recently was the perfect setting for an evening celebrating the Institute of the Arts and Sciences (IAS).

IAS is being spearheaded by the UC Santa Cruz Arts Division and will be the first-ever academic institute to bridge the arts and sciences in exhibitions, public events, and research. The September 10th fête featured a stunning exhibition with Bay Area figurative paintings by David Park, Richard Diebenkorn, Nathan Oliveira, and Manuel Neri.  

Guests gathered for wine, hors d'oeuvres, and conversation during the first part of the evening, then moved upstairs for the formal presentation. Nion McEvoy (UC Santa Cruz class of '74, owner/CEO of Chronicle Books) welcomed guests, and spoke eloquently about his interest and support of the Institute. Being able to have an extraordinary gallery space that will showcase ambitious exhibitions with some of the finest contemporary art was what most appealed to McEvoy about the Institute.

Chancellor George Blumenthal followed and commented, as an astrophysicist, how partnering with artists could better help scientists communicate their research and ideas to a broader public. He also talked about how the Institute would bring the entire campus community together into a shared space of mutual interest and inquiry. “I wish UC Santa Cruz had had this institute 30 years ago,” he said. “As a young astrophysicist trying to understand the structure of the universe, I could have used the help of artists—creative, intuitive, three-dimensional thinkers.”

Founding Director of the Institute, John Weber, spoke about the interdisciplinary nature of the Institute and the vast knowledge base the Institute would draw from as it partners with faculty throughout the UC system to create thought-provoking programming and exhibitions. And Professor of History of Art and Visual Culture, Jennifer González highlighted her perspective, as a faculty member, of what the Institute could do for her research, her students, and ultimately the public.

One of the highlights of the evening was when the Institute’s architects, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, unveiled the design concept for the Institute. Billie described it as "sacred" and an "honor" when discussing their approach to the landscape. Their renderings, subsequently, reflect that distinct attention.  

Dean of the Arts Division, David Yager, closed the evening by describing how right now, at UC Santa Cruz, we are perfectly pitched to pursue this nimble, fast-moving, interdisciplinary program and building that will harness the best that the arts, sciences, and humanities has to offer -- and make it available to the public.

The mood of the night was electric, as everyone understood how the Institute of the Arts and Sciences will be a ground-breaking venture for the UC system, for teaching and learning, for art museums, and for the community.


Photo: (L-R) Chancellor George Blumenthal, Tod Williams, Billie Tsien, Nion McEvoy, Jennifer González, John Weber. Credit: Steve Kurtz