The McEvoy Foundation for the Arts presents a panel on the Dilexi Series, a collection of groundbreaking films that put art on television. The event, with special guests from the Bay Area and beyond, will take place on Thursday, April 12 at McEvoy Arts. It will be led by retired Pacific Film Archive curator Steve Seid, accompanied by Dilexi artists Anna Halprin, Philip Makanna, and former Dilexi Gallery owner Jim Newman. The event is free and open to the public.
Broadcast on KQED-Channel 9 across the Bay Area in 1969, the Dilexi Series was one of the earliest projects where artists used television to disseminate their work to a wide public audience. It featured a “Who’s Who of art” including Julian Beck, Walter De Maria, Kenneth Dewey, Robert Frank, Anna Halprin, Philip Makanna, Yvonne Rainer, Terry Riley and Arlo Acton, Edwin Schlossberg, Andy Warhol, William Wiley, and Frank Zappa. The Dilexi Series was a disruption of the broadcast space, presenting Bay Area audiences with an unusual and utterly unique form of television that was visually original, thematically diverse, and subversive in its complete disregard for traditional television production.
Shown in its entirety for the first time in nearly 20 years, the Dilexi Series screens daily in McEvoy Arts’ media room through May 5. Curated by Steve Seid and co-presented with UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA).
Jim Newman was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1933. After graduating from Oberlin College, he co-founded Syndell Studio in Los Angeles in 1955 with Ben and Betty Bartosh, Walter Hopps, and Craig Kauffman. In 1956, he moved to San Francisco where he co-founded the Dilexi Gallery with Robert Alexander in 1958 and directed its operations until it closed in 1970.
As a film and television producer, Newman worked with KQED-TV on production of the Dilexi Series, featuring twelve original TV programs by artists including Julian Beck, Walter De Maria, Kenneth Dewey, Robert Frank, Anna Halprin, Philip Makanna, Yvonne Rainer, Terry Riley and Arlo Acton, Edwin Schlossberg, Andy Warhol, William Wiley, and Frank Zappa. From 1972 to 1974 he produced two feature films, Philip Makanna’s Shoot the Whale and Space Is the Place, featuring jazz bandleader Sun Ra.
He also produced a video documentary with filmmaker William Farley, In Between the Notes, on the life and career of master Indian vocalist Pandit Pran Nath. In 1992, Newman co-founded the new music festival organization Other Minds with Charles Amirkhanian. He currently curates a film series for the Upper Ashbury Cinema Club (UACC), a private, by invitation, group of film lovers.
Philip Makanna was the founder and director of the Fine Arts Video Center at California College of the Arts (CCAC) from 1968 through 1974. He made The Empire of Things for the Dilexi Series in 1968, using 16mm film-chain to manipulate the image as it was being transferred to electronic media. Makanna made four other films with this “video-regeneration” technique: Battery Davis in 1970-1971 for KQED-TV and PBS, Shoot the Whale in 1971, Home on the Range in 1974, and With Enough Bananas in 1975, funded by the American Film Institute and the National Endowment for the Arts. Makanna was also the artistic director of Robert Ashley’s Music with Roots in the Aether, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, in 1975.
Makanna’s work has shown at the Whitney Annual in 1966, the Whitney Biennial in 2014, and thirteen solo exhibitions for painting and sculpture. Makanna is also known for his images of vintage aircraft, receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Society for Aviation Photography in 2011. He is the author of seven photography books.
For 25 years, Steve Seid was the film and video curator at the Pacific Film Archive, a department at the University of California, Berkeley. He organized over 1,000 programs involving video art, film, and new media. Seid also oversaw an ongoing video preservation project and conducted annual workshops on visual literacy for high school teachers for a decade. He curated numerous exhibitions including Videoscape, Whose Side Are You On? The Border, and Radical Light.|
The Dilexi Series is co-presented with the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.