[Editor’s note: In our 5-year history we’ve yet to a run news release verbatim, but in this case I make an exception for an exceptional curator whose contributions to Bay Area art could fill volumes – highlights of which are below.]
The Contemporary Jewish Museum (The CJM) today announced the appointment of Renny Pritikin as Chief Curator. Pritikin will begin in his new role April 28, 2014.
Pritikin has been a leading figure in the San Francisco Bay Area arts community for decades serving as Co-director of New Langton Arts in San Francisco from 1979 to 1992, Chief Curator at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts from 1992 to 2004, and Director of the Nelson Gallery and Fine Arts Collection at the University of California, Davis from 2004 until 2012.
In his new position at The CJM, Pritikin will lead all of The Museum’s programmatic initiatives including exhibitions, educational and public programs, and online programming.
“As a Jewish institution seeking to engage the broader public, The CJM requires a Chief Curator whose intellectual passions transcend boundaries; someone able to mine the richness of cultural specificity while reaching beyond traditional patterns and expectations,” says Executive Director Lori Starr. “Renny is, quite simply, the ideal candidate, and I am thrilled that he joins us now to oversee a new phase of exhibition and program innovation. Renny is beloved by artists across all the disciplines. He has championed many artists and mentored so many curators in the field, encouraging risk-taking and originality. His depth of knowledge of international and Bay Area art is stunning. His proven track record for imaginative, boundary-crossing, community-engaging content says it all. How proud are we to welcome him to The CJM family!”
“It is highly gratifying to be in a position to continue a career that has brought me so much satisfaction weaving cultural traditions with innovation in contemporary art for the Bay Area community,” says Pritikin. “While my own cultural heritage has always been implicit in many of my aesthetic choices, I look forward to working in a new context where it might, on occasion, be made explicit. I am delighted to be working with Lori Starr to further extend The CJM’s impact and ambition locally and nationally in the years to come. The potential for this institution is boundless.”
In his curatorial work, Pritikin gave early support to the careers of such artists as Nayland Blake, Nancy Rubins, Fred Tomaselli, Barry McGee, Margaret Kilgallen, and Chris Johanssen, and brought the work of such artists as Tim Hawkinson, Tom Friedman, Doris Salcedo, and many others to the Bay Area for the first time. He is known for introducing aspects of popular culture into the museum and fine arts context, including retrospectives of the work of auto customizer Ed “Big Daddy” Roth; the tattoo artist and painter Don Ed Hardy; futurist and Blade Runner designer Syd Mead; and magician and historian Ricky Jay.
Pritikin has been a senior adjunct professor in the curatorial practices graduate program at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco since its inception in 2003. He has lectured widely and has served on numerous grant panels and exhibition juries including work with the National Endowment for the Arts, California Arts Council, and San Francisco Arts Commission.
Career highlights include a lecture tour to museums throughout Japan as a guest of the State Department, and an official visit to Israel as a Koret Fellow, both in 1995. In 2001 he was selected as the curator for the United States in the Bienal de Cuenca, in Ecuador. In 2003, as a Fulbright Fellow, he gave a lecture tour to museums throughout New Zealand.
Pritikin, an occasional contributor to Squarecylinder (Mission School @ SFAI and Barry McGee @ BAM), is a regular contributor to the online critical journal Art Practical. He’s and has written a wide range of catalog essays including those for painter Cornelia Schulz (Pat Sweetow Gallery, San Francisco, CA); multimedia artist Julia Couzens (California State University Stanislaus, Turlock, CA); sculptor Tony May (San Jose Institute for Contemporary Art); painter John Bankston (beta pictoris Gallery, Birmingham, AL); visual artists Jim Melchert and Nancy Genn (Sanchez Art Center, Pacifica, CA); sculptor Dean De Cocker (Jay Jay Gallery, Sacramento CA); painter Joe Draegart (Erickson Fine Art, Healdsburg, CA); Chris Taggart (Center for Contemporary Art, Sacramento, CA); Youngsuk Suh (California State University Stanislaus, Turlock, CA); and an essay in the book Trimpin: Contraptions for Art and Sound (Marquand Books/University of Washington Press, 2011).
He has published three books of poetry, most recently in 2007 from POD Press in San Francisco.
Pritikin was born in New York City, and received a BA from New School College, NYC, and an MA from California State University San Francisco in Interdisciplinary Arts.