In the spring of 1950, after finishing her formal studies, Imogene “Tex” Gieling moved to San Francisco where she worked as a scientific illustrator in order to support her jewelry making. She took night classes with the great Israeli goldsmith, Victor Reis who stressed technique and taught her everything she needed to know about hammering.
The art community in San Francisco in the ’50s was easily accessible and included painters, sculptors and craftsman, but also architects, photographers and industrial designers. It was not only an open society, it was also open handed. There was plenty of work to be had and any work that was offered to Tex, she always took, whether she knew how to do it or not. If it was something she was not comfortable with, she had a wide range of artist-friends to call upon for help.
She was hired to make the trademark for the Diamond National Company and executed it in bronze, copper and enamel for their corporate office building on Market Street in San Francisco.
In 1955 Tex was invited to join the faculty of at UC Berkeley to teach design in the Department of Decorative Art. She had never taught before and had no credentials to teach so was reluctant to take the job. The university saw this as a plus and felt this would be good for the students since she wouldn’t be inhibited. At the same time, Tex finished her graduate degree in metal arts.
This job lasted until 1962 when the university phased out the department. She then dedicated herself full time to her jewelry, developing some new techniques. These experiments lead to receiving a commission from Objects USA, as well as representation in the Lee Nordness Gallery in New York City. She also worked with local architects fabricating fireplaces and memorial plaques among other commissions.
In 1965 Tex was invited to set up a Metal Arts Program at San Francisco State College (now University). She taught at SF State until her retirement in 1990.
But while teaching at SF State in the ’60s, sit-ins and demonstrations brought police to the campus, which made teaching very difficult (with armed police in riot gear in the classroom). Tex went out on strike to show her strong opposition to this police presence. This led to the formation of a co-op with her students, off campus, where they could work without fear.
In 1971, Tex was able to buy a complex of old buildings where artists could live and work and which would become a real home for the co-op. The co-op was name Truesilver Union.
Thank you to SNAG Board Member Elizabeth Shypertt for providing this information. Elizabeth curated “Tex Gieling: Sixty Years” at the Museum of Craft and Design in San Francisco, on view November 17, 2018 – February 24, 2019.