Between 1976 and 1983, Florence Ludins-Katz and Elias Katz founded three nonprofit organizations serving artists with autism or Down syndrome: Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland, the National Institute of Art and Disabilities in Richmond, and Creativity Explored in San Francisco. Before the Katzes, developmentally disabled artists lacked both facilities and materials; afterward, a talented printmaker like Carmelo Gannello could develop her ability "to portray what I feel deep within my soul." The Katz legacy lives on, with a NIAD show, Chase the Tea (reviewed here last week), currently in Richmond, and Create, curated by Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive director Lawrence Rinder and White Columns director Matthew Higgs, featuring some 130 works by artists associated with the three nonprofits, at the Berkeley Art Museum. The artists create personal universes in which image, word, and process intertwine and interact.
Among the highlights, Mary Belknap creates visionary semi-abstract landscapes with masses of hatchmarks or brushstrokes organized in registers or splayed like diagrammatic tree branches. Jeremy Burleson fabricates Pop Art versions of metal-caged work lamps, hypodermic needles, mask-and-bellow medical ventilators, and even handcuffs from paper, tape, and marker; his assemblage of 160 lamps, theatrically lighted, suggests planktonic polyhedra. Carl Hendrickson constructs (with the aid of assistants) sculptures from unfinished wood that allude to functional forms, playfully, sometimes with a hint of anthropomorphism. A piece resembling a large, crude, unfinished work table is hinged in the middle; folded, it would resemble a gigantic Parsons chair — made by a mescaline-doped Sol Lewitt, perhaps. Michael Bernard Loggins in "Fears of Your Life" screenprints a long wall with a handwritten list of phobias: "Tall Giraffes," "rolling down Hill Backward," "Getting hugged by somebody you don't like," and "stepping down from something that is higher than you thought it was," etc. James Montgomery paints cosmic fields of watches in white correction-fluid pen on dark or mid-toned grounds — a nice commentary on our overscheduled lives. Lance Rivers' precise yet magical memory drawings of local bridges, tunnels, BART stations, and shipping cranes; Judith Scott's cloth-and-yarn-mummified objects; and William Scott's cheerful, exquisite acrylic portraits are additional must-sees. Catalog available. Create runs through September 25 at the Berkeley Art Museum (2626 Bancroft Way, Berkeley). 510-643-6494 or BAMPFA.Berkeley.edu