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November 26, 2022

New downtown exhibit highlights SF Art Institute alumni

WATSONVILLE—A new exhibit will soon open at Studio Judy G in Downtown Watsonville, featuring alumni and former instructors of the recently shuttered San Francisco Arts Institute.

“Foment: An exhibition of artwork by San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) alumni and staff” opens next week, with an opening reception scheduled for Nov. 13, 1-5pm. Between 60 and 70 artists from around the world will be featured, from painting and drawing to photography and collage. 

SFAI closed permanently in July after 151 years of operation. The school was home to many notable artists, such as acclaimed photographers Ansel Adams and Imogene Cunningham.

Gallery owner and artist Judy Gittelsohn said she was inspired to do the show after she joined SFAI’s alumni association.

“They said, ‘We need to do a show,’ and I said, ‘I’ll do it!’” Gittelsohn said. “People are very emotional—the idea of gathering without having our institution. It’s really about getting together and seeing what happens next.”

The title of the show reflects this, Gittelsohn explained.

“I love the word ‘foment,’” she said. “It’s about forming a moment, but also enticing one.”

Working closely with the alumni association, Gittelsohn got to work finding alumni and staff to be part of the show. Artists living as far away as Japan and Greece have been sending their work to Watsonville for the past couple of months. 

“Some of these artists I knew at the Institute, but many of them I’m meeting for the first time,” Gittelsohn said. “They’re all so moved by being shown with their fellow alumni and teachers.”

Artists included in the show include photographer Linda Connor, a large-format photographer who had been teaching at SFAI since the 1960s, and Dave Getz, an artist and musician who once played drums in Janis Joplin’s band.

“It’s so cool to have so many amazing people at my little place here,” Gittelsohn said. “When I contact them, they usually ask if the show is in the big city. When I explain it’s in Watsonville they go, ‘Where’s that?’ It’s definitely a different sort of venue.”

Gittelsohn said she also hopes bringing in such a global community of artists to Watsonville will inspire local artists, especially kids.

“I’d love to see kids here learn about fine art,” she said. “Bringing in all these souls to the heart of Watsonville, it really opens up the world to them.”

For information, visit studiojudyg.com.

Johanna Miller
Reporter Johanna Miller grew up in Watsonville, attending local public schools and Cabrillo College before transferring to Pacific University Oregon to study Literature. She covers arts and culture, business, nonprofits and agriculture.

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