Don’t miss Fresno Art Museum’s important exhibition highlighting the works of Nathan Oliveira

In the art world, personal connections matter. Several years ago, Michele Ellis Pracy was at a dinner party at the Fresno home of Lisa Oliveira Lamoure, the daughter of the highly regarded Nathan Oliveira. This exemplary artist, who died in 2010, was considered a member of the Bay Area Figurative Movement, a group of artists who pushed back against the dominant Abstract Expressionism of the mid-20th century. Ellis Pracy enjoyed the Oliveira works displayed in his daughter’s home — and she was amazed that many of them had never been exhibited in public.

And that’s how “Nathan Oliveira: Rare Works From the Private Collections of His Children,” an original exhibition at the Fresno Art Museum through June 25, was born.

Ellis Pracy, the museum’s executive director, has put her heart and soul into this one. She was able to gather together works chosen during studio visits to the homes of Joe Oliveira and his sister, Lisa, and she has curated them in a thoughtful and powerful way that captures the personality and emotional depth of Nathan Oliveira. In many ways, the exhibition became a quest for Ellis Pracy to draw more attention to the artist’s legacy. Unlike other members of the Bay Area Figurative Movement — which included such illustrious names as David Park, Richard Diebenkorn, Wayne Thiebaud and Joan Brown — Oliveira has never received a full-scale museum retrospective after his death.

Ellis Pracy graciously agreed to give CMAC producer Kyle Lowe and me a guided tour of the exhibition, and I’m excited to share it with you. Seeing these works on video is only a fraction of the experience of seeing them in person, however. I highly recommend a personal visit. Here’s the tour:

The segment is part of the latest episode of “The Munro Review on CMAC.” It’s a powerhouse show (over 52 minutes!) packed with interesting guests. Hope you enjoy.


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Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

Comments (1)

  • Jackie Ryle

    Thoroughly enjoyed your interview with Michele Ellis-Pracy. I have seen the Nathan Oliveria exhibit twice – now I’m going back. Thank you!


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