Jim Melchert
Birth Date: 1930

Artist Gallery
James (Jim) Melchert was born in Ohio and made his way to California, where he has been an integral part of the Bay Area’s artistic evolution. After receiving his degree in Art History at Princeton University, Melchert traveled to Japan to teach English for four years, where he met his wife Mary Ann. Melchert returned to the United States to earn a degree in painting from the University of Chicago. Once he’d completed his MFA, he took a teaching position at a small college in Illinois so he could continue to paint. As the only art faculty, he was asked to lead a ceramics class. Over the course of the semester, he became increasingly interested in working with clay. The following summer, he spent some weeks in Missoula, Montana, taking a workshop with one of clay’s most prominent artists, Peter Voulkos. Melchert was so inspired by Voulkos that he decided to pursue a second Master’s degree. With his wife and three young children, he relocated, moving to Berkeley in 1959, where Voulkos had just begun teaching. Melchert discovered a rich artistic climate in Oakland, and he settled in this city to teach at the San Francisco Art Institute and then UC Berkeley. In his own studio, he began to experiment with clay. He moved again to Washington, D.C. to direct the National Endowment for the Arts for four years. After directing, Melchert moved abroad for the second time to direct the American Academy in Rome. While abroad, Melchert was inspired by the medium of ceramic tile that he observed during his travels through the Mediterranean. He resumed working with tile after his return to Berkeley in 1988, and since his retirement from teaching, has been in the studio full time. Organic shapes and bold geometric designs are two prominent elements in his body of work. Melchert’s art has been collected by various museums, including the Museum of Art and Design in New York, the Museums of Modern Art in San Francisco, Tokyo, and Kyoto, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, among others.