Farewell: Bruce McGaw + Sharon Grace

Faculty Farewells

A fond goodbye to longtime SFAI Faculty Sharon Grace and Bruce McGaw.

Sharon Grace

Sharon began teaching in the San Francisco Art Institute’s Performance/Video Department (now New Genres) in the early 1980s, bringing to the faculty and students detailed knowledge of art and telecommunications, electronic media, and interactive technologies. Early in her career she collaborated with Nam June Paik on video synthesizers. At NASA, in 1977, she was the west coast artist/project leader for SEND/RECEIVE, the first interactive coast-to-coast satellite artist network and the inaugural event for artists to have a presence on the emerging Internet. 

Her work has always explored the “new-new” with a critical eye, ever aware of the pitfalls of the phony and potentially sinister uses of technology. Students have always been intrigued by Sharon’s immense knowledge of the relationship between current society and technologies and her eloquent appraisal of the trends in the conceptual art world as well as her analysis of the history of Performance Art, Video Art, and New Genres.

Bruce McGaw

Bruce began teaching at the school in the fall of 1957, as the replacement for William Theopholis Brown. Bruce was part of the rejuvenation of the school’s faculty orchestrated by Director Gurdon Woods and graduate director Elmer Bischoff. New faculty hired at the time included Frank Lobdell, Ivan Majdrakoff, Nathan Oliveira, Richard Diebenkorn, and Bruce. That same year, Bruce participated in the seminal Oakland Art Museum exhibition Bay Area Figurative Painting. 

Bruce has taught legions of students and been instrumental and influential in developing SFAI’s painting department for 60 years. He was a key ingredient in securing a faculty union in the late 1960s as well as getting representation for faculty on the SFAI Board of Trustees. One prominent New York painter, who studied with Bruce, claims “he saved my life.” Art History, Goya, Matisse, Diebenkorn, David Park, Sabro Hasegawa, poetry, I.F. Stone, KPFA, Lorca, Japanese haiku, Walt Whitman, Philip Whalen, libraries, books, and carpentry are all vital to Bruce. In his own words, “Painting is one of the oldest of human activities and remains vital and essential.” 

Image credit: Images courtesy of the artists.