Parties: A Gala in the Galleries

by Catherine Bigelow | Photography by Monica Semergiu

Under new leadership by executive director Julie Rodrigues Widholm, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive celebrated its reimagined BAMPFA Art & Film Benefit fundraiser on May 7. The fete drew 250 guests who toured the galleries, including The Artist’s Eye (through July 17) — an exhibition curated by artists Tammy Rae Carland, David Huffman, Lava Thomas and John Zurier, featuring artworks and archival material from BAMPFA’s collections.

An alfresco dinner program in a tricked-out parking lot next to the museum followed, honoring filmmaker Trinh T. Minh-ha and artist Amalia Mesa-Bains, both Bay Area pioneers whose work has influenced generations of new creators.

The evening raised $750K in support of exhibition programming and the museum’s work-study program. “One of the most special things about being an academic art museum is our engagement with students,” enthused Widholm. “These positions in our galleries and administration are transformational for hundreds of UC Berkeley students.”

Widholm also welcomed her new teammate, chief curator Christina Yang — who works hand-in-glove with head of film Susan Oxtoby — while paying tribute to previous BAMPFA leaders, including former director and chief curator Larry Rinder and senior curator emerita Connie Lewallen, who passed away in April.

“The challenges of the last few years also created an amazing opportunity to rethink what we do and why, with a renewed sense of purpose and possibility,” toasted Widholm. “After persistent exclusion from museums around the country, we present inclusion of historically marginalized artists in BAMPFA’s exhibitions, films and collections that will resonate globally. We can only achieve excellence and social justice with greater diversity among our art institutions.”

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