Interviewsand Articles


Portfolio: Joe Slusky

by Richard Whittaker, Dec 26, 2009



( from works & conversations #19 - Insiders and Outsiders )

Joe Slusky is poised to retire after teaching for 30 years at UC Berkeley in the College of Environmental Design. I paid a visit to Joe to get a good look at his art and was treated to a tour of work stretching back over forty years. It was great fun.
     Best known for his colorful painted-steel sculptures, he also makes drawings -- most often colorful, like his sculptures.

Near the end of my visit I asked about several drawers we hadn't opened. In one there was a cache of small, 4" x 6" drawings. He does them while waiting for a doctor’s appointment or in other situations where the wheels aren't turning. He saves cards he gets in the mail -- real estate pitches, exhibit announcements etc. — and always has a supply on hand for passing such delays pleasantly by drawing. These sketches were done purely for pleasure with no thought of public consumption. But I was able to persuade Joe to let others have a look. These are pure play. Do they belong in this issue with its theme of "outsider/insider" art? I don't know. Slusky has plenty of art training and savvy. But to my eye, they have that fresh quality one finds in outsider art. It's something one can often find in trained artists' sketchbooks. What does  it mean, "insiders and outsiders"? — R. Whittaker


About the Author

Joe Slusky lives in Berkeley, CA. 
Richard Whittaker is the founding editor of works & conversations and West Coast editor of Parabola magazine.   


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