When Illustration chair and Distinguished Professor Dugald Stermer passed away in December 2011, the CCA community experienced a monumental loss. The life and work of Stermer, our “beloved cowboy” chair of the Illustration Program, will be celebrated October 1-12, with the memorial exhibition Drawing the Line.
The exhibition will be on view in the alcove of the Nave on CCA’s main San Francisco campus building, with a reception on Friday, October 12, from 6 to 8 p.m. The exhibition and reception are free and open to the public.
Decades of Work
Drawing the Line highlights work from Stermer’s dynamic career as an illustrator, designer, art director, author, and educator. It will span decades, from his early years as art director of the magazine Ramparts (including commissioned covers from Ben Shahn, Ed Sorrell, and Milton Glaser) to his designs for the 1984 Olympics to his more recent work on mural illustrations for Rancho Los Alamitos.
The exhibition will emphasize Stermer’s growth and flexibility as an illustrator, presenting examples of his evolving style and work from a wide range of genres.
A Museum in Itself
His desk and drawing table will also be on view. “His studio is absolutely a museum in itself,” says Alexis Mahrus, CCA Illustration alumna, previous student of Stermer’s, former assistant chair, and current interim chair of the Illustration Program. She has been working on this show with the family for the past year.
“The goal of this exhibition is to share with everyone the true range of Dugald’s life and career,” says Mahrus. “I feel extremely lucky and quite humbled to be at the epicenter of the project. I already knew Dugald pretty well, having been his student, colleague, and friend for more than 15 years.
"But it’s been such a privilege to have this new experience of uncovering his early work -- so much evidence of a full career that was built brick by brick, hour by hour. It has certainly been an emotional, but very special process.”
Illustration faculty Bob Ciano and David Asari have also contributed to the planning of the exhibition. Kit Hinrichs, a designer and art director who worked with Stermer on many jobs and designed Stermer’s 1986 solo retrospective exhibition at the California Academy of Sciences, submitted design sketches for the exhibition layout.
A Lasting Legacy
Throughout the past year, CCA's Illustration community has remembered Stermer not only for his influential career and wonderful teaching, but also for his genuine personality and leadership.
Illustration faculty member Barron Storey says, “I will miss my friend; the field of illustration will miss his serious, sensitive voice and incomparable craftsmanship; and all at CCA who were fortunate enough to know him will try to carry on his legacy of excellence. We will continue to do our best in his memory.”
“The cowboy will watch over us always,” echoed faculty member Owen Smith.
A Celebration & Memorial
Speakers at the closing reception, which is also a celebration of Stermer’s life and career, will include his daughter, Crystal Stermer; Robert Hunt (CCA Illustration faculty); Eric Madsen (a graphic designer and Stermer’s best friend); and Brad Holland(an illustrator, a good friend, and a colleague).
Steve Heller (a good friend and colleague, former art director at the New York Times, current cochair of Designer as Author at School of Visual Arts, and author of many books on illustration and graphic design), will speak via video.