SAM TCHAKALIAN (1929 - 2004) "Diamond in the Rough" 48" x 48", Oil on canvas
Exhibited and depicted in the accompanying exhibition book Fresno Museum of Art, "Sam Tchakalian: Paintings" - 1997 Modernism Gallery, San Francisco, CA - 1991
Sam Tchakalian Biography
Sam Tchaklian was born in Shanghai, China where he was raised to parents who fled massacres by the Turkish govenment in the early 1900's. Sam’s parents endured a long train ride from Siberia to Harbin, China and they later moved to Shanghai where Sam and his brothers Edward and Manuel were born. In 1947 the Tchakalian family led first by the mother and three sons and a couple of years later by their father fled China during the Chinese revolution moving to and settling in San Francisco.
It was a dynamic time for creative arts in the city with art schools such as the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute) flush with students on the GI Bill and with legendary instructors such as Clyfford Still, Mark Rothko, Hassel Smith and Richard Diebenkorn. Tchakalian completed a degree in Psychology at San Francisco State University in 1952 and then served in the United States Army during the Korean War. He completed his fine arts degree from San Francisco State later in the 1950s, and decided upon art as a career.
In 1957 Tchakalian rented a space on Duboce Street in San Francisco that served as his studio and home for most of his life. Sam Tchakalian’s work of the late 1950s and 1960s exhibit indications of classic San Francisco abstract expressionism but also maintain an individual style with use of collage within many of his works. Esteemed author, Susan Landauer described Tchakalian’s early work of the 1950's as “strongly reflecting Clyfford Still's influence...In the early 1960's, his imagery flattened and simplified gradually evolving into broad expanses of intense color”. It was not until the late 1960s that his work developed into a more formalist style focused on the purity of paint and color that were often scraped across the surface. These textural bold planks of color began in 1968 and continued to develop into powerful action paintings well into the 1980’s. The work from this period and on has been described as ‘mature’ with the focus on application of paint and color and clearly exhibiting the distinct personal energy of the artist.
Sam Tchakalian taught art at the San Francisco Art Institute for 35 years before retiring in 2001. Sam died in San Francisco in 2004 and was remembered by the artist Bruce Conner who described Tchakalian’s work in 2004 as “one of the major lights of Bay Area Abstract Expressionism in the 1950s and 1960s”. And he added “he was always a fun guy to be around”.
Museums Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, NY Bakersfield Art Museum, Bakersfield, CA Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley, CA Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA Fresno Art Museum, Fresno, CA Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, CA M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, CA Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI Monterey Museum of Art, Monterey, CA San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA The Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, CA The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Select Solo Exhibitions 1988 National Musuem of Contemporary Art, Seoul, Korea 1987 Modernism Gallery, San Francisco, CA 1981 Steven Wirtz Gallery, San Francisco, CA 1979 Portland Center for Visual Arts, Portland, CA 1978 Oakland Museum Oakland, CA Retrospective 1973 Quay Gallery, San Francisco, CA 1970 Emanuel Walter Gallery, San Francisco, CA 1968 Molly Barnes Gallery, Los Angeles, CA 1967 San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, CA 1966 John Bolles Gallery, San Francisco, CA 1963 Dilexi Gallery, San Francisco, CA 1962 M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, CA
Select Group Exhibitions 1987 Berkeley Museum Collection, University of California at Berkeley 1986 San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, San Jose, CA 1984 The Dilexi Years: 1958 to 1970 – Oakland Museum, Oakland, CA 1983 University of California at Davis, Davis, CA 1979 Department of Art - University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 1977 Smithsonian Institute National Collection of Fine Arts, Washington D.C. 1975 Fredrerick S. Wright Gallery at University California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 1974 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA 1974 Krannert Art Museum at University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 1971 Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY 1970 The San Francisco Pavilion – Osaka Exposition, San Francisco, CA 1969 Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY 1969 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA 1969 California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, CA 1968 San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, CA 1968 University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 1968 Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR 1968 Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA 1968 M.H. De Young Museum, San Francisco, CA 1968 Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA 1967 California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, CA 1967 University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 1964 San Francsico Museum of Art, San Francisco, CA 1964 California Palace Legion Honor San Francisco, CA 1961 California Palace Legion Honor San Francisco, CA 1961 Poindexter Gallery, New York, NY 1961 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA 1961 Scripps College, Pomona, CA 1961 Municipal Gallery – Los Angeles, CA 1961 Pasadena Art Museum, Pasadena, CA 1960 through 1967 - Art Bank Gallery, San Francisco Art Institute 1960 California Palace Legion Honor San Francisco, CA 1960 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA 1959 John Bolles Gallery, Santa Rosa, CA 1959 Dilexi Gallery, San Francisco, CA 1958 through 1965 - San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA 1958 through 1960 - Richmond Art Center, Richmond, CA
Awards 1982 Maestro/Apprentice Program – California Arts Council 1981 Fellowship Grant – NEA 1981 Adaline Kent Award 1975 Fellowship Grant – NEA 1961 80th Annual Painting Award – SF Museum of Art 1961 11th annual Painting Award – Richmond Art Center juried by Michael Goldberg NY 1960 Winter Invitational Painting Award – California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, CA 1958 Purchase Award – San Francisco Art Festival, San Francisco, CA
Teaching Career 1962-1963 Guest Lecturer, California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, CA 1964-1965 Painting Instructor – College of San Mateo, CA 1966 Painting Faculty – San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA 1970 Guest Instructor – UC Davis, Davis, CA 1977-1979 Chair Painting Department – San Francisco Art Institute 1979-1980 Instructor: Painting and Drawing. University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 1981-1985 Chair Painting Department – San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA
Literature 2005 Davenport, Ray. Davenport's Art Reference:The Gold Edition 2005 AskART.com Inc. - Dunbier, Lonnie Pierson (Editor). The Artists Bluebook: 34,000 North American Artists to March 2005 2004 Landauer, Susan. San Francisco and Second Wave: The Blair Collection of Bay Area Abstract Expressionism 2002 Hughes, Edan Milton. Artists in California: 1786-1940 2002 McClelland, Gordon T; Jay T. Last. California Watercolors 1850-1970, An Illustrated History & Biographical Dictionary 1999 Falk, Peter Hastings (Editor). Who Was Who in American Art, 1564-1975 1996 Landauer, Susan. The San Francisco School of Abstract Expressionism 1989 Hughes, Edan Milton. Artists in California, 1786-1940 1985 DuPont, Diana, K Holland. San Francisco Museum of Modern ArtPaintings and Sculpture Collection 1985 Falk, Peter Hastings (Editor). Who Was Who in American Art: Artists Active Between 1898-1947 1985 Albright, Thomas. Art in the San Francisco Bay Area 1945-1980 / An Illustrated History 1984 Orr-Cahill, Christina. The Art of California Selected Works/ Oakland Museum 1976 San Francisco Museum Modern Art. Painting & Sculpture in California: The Modern Era 1975 Editor, Smithsonian. Smithsonian Archives of American Art: Checklist of the Collection 1958 Art Bank of the SFAA San Francisco Art Association. Painting and Sculpture (in) 87 1935 Mallett, Daniel Trowbridge. Index of Artists: International-Biographical Sources Hopkins, Henry. Sam Tchakalian: Paintings. Fresno Art Museum Landauer, Susan. The San Francisco School of Abstract Expressionism Lee, Kyung-Sung. Sam Tchakalian, The National Museum of Contemporary Art Neubert, George W. Sam Tchakalian: Paintings 1958-1978, The Oakland MuseumPlagens, Peter. Sunshine Muse: Art of the West Coast, 1945-1970 San Francisco Chronicle. Obituary Jan. 24, 2004 www.janitorialwatch.org/wp-content/uploads/ed-1pgr1.pdf
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