THE ART OF
ULYSSES JENKINS

 

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Ulysses Jenkins is a video/performance artist; M.F.A., Intermedia -Video/Performance Art, Otis College of Art, Los Angeles, CA, 1979; B.A., Fine Arts - Painting/Drawing, Southern University, Baton Rouge, LA, 1969.  Mr. Jenkins has taught video production (lecturer) at the University of California, San Diego (1979-81), Otis College of Art (1982-84) and performance art at California State University, Dominguez Hills (1981).  He currently is an Associate Professor at the University of California, Irvine in the Claire Treavor School of the Arts, Department of Studio Art (1993-2005) in video art production and performance art instruction and as an affiliate professor with the African-American Studies program in the Department of Humanities.

Mr. Jenkins starts studying fine art in Los Angeles, CA at Hamilton High School from 1961 -1964 and leaves for undergraduate studies at Southern University, Baton Rouge, La.; in the fall of 1964 to the spring of1969. He begins his art career buy selling sculpture works in the French Quarters in the City of New Orleans, La. in the Spring of 1969; while completing his BA degree at Southern University in Baton Rouge, La.  After returning to Los Angeles he exhibits paintings at Saint Paul’s Catholic Church in the fall of 1969. While securing employment as a display artist for major Department stores and he then moves on to working for the LA County Probation Department for a couple of years as a counselor of psychiatric non-delinquent youth clients teaching them arts therapy from 1970 - 1972.

After leaving the LA County Probation Department, Mr. Jenkins exhibited at the Watts Festival at Will Rogers Park in the following years of 1971, 1972 and 1973. During this period he starts a career as a muralist in Venice, CA.  His first mural was located on the boardwalk at the corner of Rose and Oceanfront Walk.  The mural was entitled; “The Rat Trap” c.1972 - 8ft x 40ft. 15ft above the pavement, a surrealist point of view looking eastward from the boardwalk into Los Angeles as an over polluted enviroment.  The second mural came by way of invitation to paint in the community mural project inside the outdoors court yard area of the former Venice Pavillion; the murals were entitled “The History of Venice Murals” c. 1973 - he painted six panels 10ft.x 7ft.  Also during this period Mr. Jenkins is introduced to the new portable video recording equipment  (1972-73’) and the video arts community in Venice, CA.  He creates a media group entitled; “Video Venice News” and begins shooting documentary work in Southern California.  The most recognized work was the documentary entilted; “The Watts Festival 1971 & 1972,” which remains the only recorded documentation of this historic community festival, which was a commemoration of the Watts Riots of 1965.   All of which he would return to in graduate school at Otis Art Institute in L.A., CA where he would major in intermedia.

* From fall of 1973 to the spring of 1975 Mr. Jenkins lived in Kailua Kona, Hawaii *

Upon his return to Los Angeles he returned to Mural painting working for two agencies: Brockman Galleries “Street Graphics” mural project his mural was located on Crenshaw Blvd, entitled: “The Azz Izz Is” c.1976 -10ft x 12ft and Social & Public Art Resource (SPAR) in the San Fernando Valley, in the Tujunga Wash.

The mural was entitled: “The History of California” a multi-ethnic mural depiction of California’s ethnic history. Finally the last mural he painted was awarded through a competion that the Department of Motor Vehicles conducted in 1976 to an artist to paint the history of transportation in California, which he won. The mural was painted within a 3 to 4 month span located at the original Hope Street DMV location facing west to the 110 freeway and the north bound on ramp. This mural was entitled: “Transportation Brought Art To The People” c. 1976 size 32ft x 32 ft. 17 feet up from the street pavement. It was supported by the arts organization: ‘Citywide Mural Resource Center’. He also exhibited at the “First West Coast Mural and Graffiti Conference”; at the G.E.and Mattie B. Kinsey Auditorum, California Museum of Science and Industry, Exposition Park, Los Angeles -1976.

* In 1977 Mr. Jenkins enrolls into Otis Art Institute for his Masters of Art degree *

Mr. Jenkins, receives the National Endowment for the Arts Individual Artist Fellowships for Video Art in 1980,1982 & 1995. He is awarded the Black Filmmaker's Hall of Fame 1990 and in 1992 First Place Award in the Experimental Video Category.  The California Arts Council has awarded him Artist-In-Residency Grants in Southern and Northern California 1986- 89 & 1990-93; also he has received the CAC Artist Fellowship Grant in Video Art 1992, The Long Beach Museum of Art's Open Channels Grant 1991, The Film Art Foundation of San Francisco Video Production Grant 1993, and the James De Phelan Award in Video Art, San Francisco Foundation Lifetime Award for acknowledgment of achievements for innovation and creativity in the genre of Video Art, 1993.

A recipient of the California Arts Council's Multi-Cultural Entry Grant as director of Othervisions Studio, an interdisciplinary media arts production group 1987-89 and 1993-97 and 1999-2002 .  In 1989 he completed a manuscript, Doggerel Period, chronicling 1980-1990 decade of his career and the history of Othervisions Studio.  He was selected for the Arts Leadership Fellowship Grant Program 1994-95: funded by the CAC and coordinated by Coro of Southern California.  He was selected to participate in the Artist-In Residency programs at The Exploratorium, San Francisco, CA; where he produced a two-day videophone telecommunications performance event, entitled "Bay Window" which explored ecological dialogues in multiple global sites.  He also completed projects at the A.I.R. at The Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito, CA 1993-94 and Banff Center for the Arts - New Media Research Program the “Nomad Project” facilitated by Sarah Diamond; where he produced a telecommunications lecture from Baniff to Univ. of Calif. Irvine from Banff, Alberta, Canada 1994.  He served on the Board of Directors of of the Bay Area Video Coalition, San Francisco, CA 1990-96 and was a member of Video Lace Committee, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA., 1994-96. He was awarded the “Sanofoka Award” at the California Arts Council’s Asilomar Conference in 2001 for contributions of leadership and sacrafice for the benefit of youth and the next generation of artists and citizens of the state of California.

"Audiovisual Poetry from the United States" for the Tenth VideoBrasil - International Festival of Electronic Arts"; Sao Paulo & Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Graz/ LA  X-change Project Exhibition ; video screening &  audio CD work within a group exhibit of LA  Artists in Kulturzentrum bei den Minoriten, Graz, Austria, "When Worlds Collide", The Museum of Modern Art, NYC, New York, "A Video Griot's Trilogy", the Independent Eye  KCET (PBS) Channel 28, Los Angeles, CA.,"L.A. Video: Scratching the Belly of the Beast: Cutting-Edge Media in Los Angeles", Film Forum, Los Angeles, CA. 

On going performance art activities with: the Othervisions Studio multi-media project works of the ‘Othervisions Art Band’ which include audio CD projects entitled: “find a hap.e.meal”c. 97, “Audio Files-Soundtracks of the Othervisions Art Band”c.99’,“ Serendipity” c.99’, a boxset “Through A Black Hole Unreluctanly: Othervisions”c.1999’-2000 , a recorded performance history of Othervisions Art Band 1980-1994 ( 9 CD’s), “Turquoise Blue” c.2001.  A video soundtrack CD recording from the DVD “Bequest” c.2002. And the DVD production “Bequest” c.2002.  Video screening exhibits of the video composition “Bequest” at the following: 2002’~ RE - Birth ~ Tono:  video screening of “ Bequest” c. 2002 @ Tropico De Nopal, Los Angeles, CA, 2002’~ 911 - A Memorial For All: video screening of “ Bequest” c. 2002 @ Boswell-Crowe Fine Arts Gallery, Los Angeles, CA  and  2004’~  African-American Artist in Los Angeles A Survey Exhibition: “ Fade 1990-2003 ”: video screening of “ Bequest” c. 2002 ~ The City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department @  California State University Los Angeles,  CA. He recently completed a video “Planet X ” c.2006 for an exhibition entitled “Otis-LA: 9 Decades of Los Angeles Art, Los Angeles Munciple Art Gallery 2006. And was included in an exhibition in Europe this year: “Les Soriees Nomades, cycle Nuits Noires”  SIDE by SIDE Part II  ~ WE ~ Maren Hassinger - Senga Nengudi: David Hammons, Franklin Parker and Ulysses Jenkins. Located at Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain; Paris, France.  He recently completed and exhibited a video at The African-American California Museum entitled: “Notions of Freedom” involving motion capture technology at the University of California Irvine with former Sun Ra dancer; Cheryl Banks-Smith. This work involves the history of Jazz  with an original  soundtrack by Kei Akagai.

He has most currently been working with the Getty Research Institute in the following activities: Cote a Cote: Art and Jazz in France and California; "Visual Artists on Jazz," a conversation with Ed Bereal, George Herms, and John Outterbridge moderated by Ulysses Jenkins.  Next a panel entitled: “African American Avant-Garde, 1965–1990” http://www.getty.edu/visit/calendar/days/01162008.html
Where the subject of the 1970s and 1980s were vital to the development of an African American art Network in Los Angeles. This program reunites four African American avant-garde artists who worked with organized collaboratives in the 1970s and 1980s such as Studio Z and Othervisions Studio before going on to individual careers of national and international importance. Panelists include Maren Hassinger, artist and director of the Rinehart  School of Sculpture, Maryland Institute College of Art; Ulysses Jenkins, artist and associateprofessor of art, University of California, Irvine; Barbara McCullough, artist and filmmaker; and Senga Nengudi, artist and lecturer in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. The conversation is moderated by Kellie Jones, associate professor of art history and archaeology, Columbia University, and Judith Wilson, Ph.D., independent scholar.

And lastly the “California Video” exhibition March 15 - June 8, 2008 at the Exhibitions Pavilion, Getty Center:  The first comprehensive survey of California video art from 1968 to the present, this exhibition includes important examples of single-channel video, video sculpture, and video installation. Featuring the work of 58 artists, duos, and collectives, California Video locates a distinctively West Coast aesthetic within the broader history of video art while highlighting the Getty's major commitment to the preservation and exhibition of a young but vital artistic medium. This exhibition is co-organized by the Getty Research Institute and the J. Paul Getty Museum. I will be exhibiting an early work entitled: “ Mass of Images” (http://www.getty.edu/visit/calendar/days/03152008.html).