LINDA CONNOR AND JEFF GUNDERSON TALK ABOUT THE DATZ MUSEUM

REFLECTION Linda Connor Photography Datz Museum through 11/22/2020

Jeff: It is a pleasure to be speaking with you Linda, about your current show in Korea, but first some background…. I have known you since I sashayed onto campus in February of 1981, but by then you had been at SFAI for over 10 years, thus marking 50 years of teaching as we speak! It is my understanding that you were hired not only because of your photographic skills, but also because of your elegant eye patch, and your astrological sign. Is this true?

Linda Connor Altamont 1969 © Michael Bishop

Linda: Yes! Jerry Burchard, the then-head of the Photo Department, had a joyfully eccentric criterion—hopefully he saw something in my portfolio and approach that would add to the mix of the Photo faculty. It was also a time of enrollment expansion, so a stand-by class opened up and I got my first class … and my foot in the door.

“I was living in Chicago finishing up Grad School when I met Imogen Cunningham and told her I wanted to move to California. She suggested I meet with Jerry Burchard , the Head of the Photo Department at SFAI. I moved out the Summer of 1969. Jerry and I  had a good first meeting during which he mentioned he had once printed historical glass plates at the Lick Observatory as a Summer Job. A month or two later, not having found any work, I called him to ask how to contact the Lick Observatory to see if they still needed printers . At that point he said he might have a teaching job for me. I ended up getting hired, but what is interesting is Jerry led to both my long fruitful relationship with SFAI and a profound connection to the Lick which became an important part of my work a number of decades later..”

 

Jeff: There has been a relationship with Korean students at SFAI going back to our first Korean student Chun Sung-woo, who studied and was good friends with Carlos Villa and Bill Wiley in the 1950s. His mandala paintings are in many U.S. museums, including the de Young. He eventually returned to Korea to run both his family’s very well-respected private high school and his family’s Kansong Art Museum [of Korean Art Antiquities and Treasures]. So … please give me some information about how your show in Korea came about. 

 

Linda: Basically, the exhibition is happening because of my long-standing friendship with, and mutual admiration for, Sangyon Joo, a 1999 SFAI MFA from Korea.

REFLECTION Linda Connor Photography Datz Museum through 11/22/2020

Sangyon has created a powerful and beautiful place—the Datz Museum and Artists Residency—outside of Seoul. One of the fascinating aspects of the Datz Museum is that its courtyard is patterned after the SFAI courtyard! The Datz Museum, with Sangyon, has been a hub of activity for SFAI alumni since its founding. We had actually planned a travel class pertaining to Book Arts this past summer—but it all had to be cancelled because of the pandemic.

Datz Museum of Art with courtyard patterned after the San Francisco Art Institute courtyard

Jeff: So, you have been there before and done work with the Datz Museum?

 

Linda: Yes. We have done a good number of collaborative events: exhibitions, lectures, portfolio reviews, book events, and Photo-Alliance-related activities in both Korea and in the States. Besides establishing a contemporary Museum, Sangyon Joo expanded her interest in Book Arts—which was rooted here in the Bay Area. She was also in part inspired by another MFA alum, Ben Zlotkin of Edition One Books here in Berkeley, and established Datz Press in Seoul—a new, but by now well-established small, artist-run press—complete with bookstore and espresso machine! Anyone from the Bay Area would feel wonderfully at home there! Another of Datz’s publications is a bi-annual artist journal: Magizine Gitz, which publishes in English.

Open Dome, Caravansaray, Turkey 1993 © Linda Connor

I am now working on my 3rd book project with Datz: Constellations, which will complement my current exhibition. Constellations also incorporates a number of images that reach back into some quite early work. It also features a project I did in the late ’90s at the Lick Observatory. I was able to access their archive of astronomical glass plate negatives, some of which dated back to the late 19th century.

Comet Morehouse, November 18, 1908, 2018 © Linda Connor and the Lick Observatories

My other titles published by Datz Books are The Olson House and Peru.
 

Jeff: Who are some of the other SFAI folk that have shown at the Datz or had books published by Datz Press?

 

Linda: Wayne Levin, Amanda Marchand, Lonnie Graham, and Hendrik Paul… And it’s a two-way street. Sangyon has remained involved with—the Art Institute and Photo Alliance, our Photo Book event at the Fort Mason campus also book fairs in LA and the wonderful artist book extravaganza: Codex.

Sangyon 2017 Editing Lonnie Graham Book A Conversation with the World © Linda Connor

Sangyon has always been willing to come to the Photo Alliance Portfolio Reviews, or be a visiting artist here at SFAI.

 

Jeff: We have a good number of the Datz Press publications in the Anne Bremer Memorial Library. When do you think this new book will be available? 

 

Linda: If I can stop messing around with the sequence, Constellations should be going to press sometime in the next month or so. It should be out by the first of the year. In the meantime, check out the show. And the link to the show in the Datz Museum of Art

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