Remembering Jerry Carlin

February 9, 2014 § Leave a comment


From remarks at the memorial service for artist Jerome Carlin on February 9, 2014 by art historian NANCY BOAS, who interviewed Carlin and wrote about him in Art of California magazine in June 1993:

JERRY OCCASIONALLY WROTE articles of art criticism. He didn’t pull punches. He never changed his opinion about abstract painting — he didn’t like it. In a 1971 review in the Berkeley Daily Gazette, Jerry spared no words in reviewing an exhibition of abstract painting at the Oakland Museum. “This is not a show in which your sensations will be aroused or excited,” he wrote. “The scale of the works adds little in the way of grandeur or importance; rather it seems to reflect a need to compensate for dullness and timidity by sheer size.”

Read more: “The painted memories of Jerome Carlin

Endless enthusiasm and a few jokes

January 20, 2014 § Leave a comment


BERKELEY — Jerry Carlin, who died last week, was raised in Chicago and was a well-educated lawyer (Harvard undergrad, University of Chicago master’s and doctorate, Yale Law School), founder of the San Francisco Neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation. In the mid-70s, he gave up law to devote himself to painting.

One particular focus of his art was family, gatherings and celebrations. This seemed apt because his Bay Area family was particularly well known, especially to theater lovers. Jerry’s wife, Joy, is a director and actress, as is his daughter, Nancy. The Carlins were regulars at opening nights, Jerry equipped with endless enthusiasm, and always a few jokes, too. He was a kind and talented man, and although his paintings will be cherished, his presence will missed.

— LEAH GARCHIK, San Francisco Chronicle

Lawyers turned artists

February 12, 1996 § Leave a comment

San Francisco Chronicle

It’s a common curse of being a lawyer: the nagging urge to be something else. Though most ignore it, many succumb, often by trying to become the next John Grisham.

But four former Bay Area attorneys are taking a different tack. They’ve become artists, and they’re showing their work at San Francisco’s Thomas Reynolds Gallery — and Reynolds, it turns out, is also a recovering lawyer.

Here’s the surprising news: All four artists are really good.

Not that they weren’t good lawyers, too. Mary Dunlap was one of San Francisco’s most prominent civil rights attorneys. But in 1991, after finishing a high-profile discrimination case against the San Francisco Fire Department, she was exhausted. “I was a workaholic,” she says, “and it got to the point where I needed to do other things that had really been neglected.” She’s still a legal consultant on public interest cases, but most of her time is spent creating colorful monoprints of birds and fish and self-portraits.

Sarita Waite | Bear Cubs, Marin Circle Fountain, Berkeley

Sarita Waite | Bear Cubs, Marin Circle Fountain, Berkeley

Her colleague, Sarita Camille Waite, practiced family law in Berkeley for 17 years until 1987, when she turned to sculpture. Much of her work is small bronze figures, but she’s working now on a fountain for Marin Circle in North Berkeley.

A third artist, Jerome Carlin, founded the San Francisco Neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation in 1966. But for the past 25 years, he has painted California landscapes, some of which hang in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Jerome Carlin | Rand's View, 1994

Jerome Carlin | Rand’s View, 1994

The fourth in the group is Jody Joseph, former head of the San Francisco Bar Association’s legal services program. Now she paints portraits, landscapes and still lifes in a cubist style.

All but Carlin say they loved practicing law, but for various reasons had to get out. “I had no alternative,” says Joseph. “Otherwise it would have been a half-lived life.”

She’s in good company. Reynolds says a lot of famous artists left the law, including the French post-Impressionist master Paul Cezanne. What made him make the move? Maybe it was the advice from his friend, novelist Emile Zola: “One thing or the other — really be a lawyer, or else be an artist, but do not remain a creature without a name, wearing a toga dirtied by paint.”

Read more: Jerome Carlin: The two sides of my brain

‘The two sides of my brain’

December 1, 1995 § Leave a comment

Jerome Carlin | Launch #2, 1975

Jerome Carlin | Launch #2, 1975


With the love and support of my family, I have been extremely fortunate in being able to plumb the depths of the two sides of my brain.

My father was a lawyer. Seeking to gain a better understanding of his work propelled me, in part, into an examination of the legal system. I was drawn to sociological inquiry, believing that lawyers played a critical role in the development and maintenance of our market economy and democratic system. What I found in my study of solo practitioners in Chicago (for my doctoral dissertation at the University of Chicago) and then in my study at Columbia of the ethics of New York City lawyers, was a highly stratified profession reinforcing class differences in the availability and quality of legal services and development of the law, resulting in a class system of justice. This led me to a closer examination (at UC Berkeley) of the lack of legal services for the lower half of our population. Then, seeing an opportunity for action with the enactment of the Federal Poverty Program, I helped establish and became the first head of the San Francisco Neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation. We had some success, but probably little effect in the long run. Indeed this small window of opportunity was soon closed by drastic cutbacks in these programs.

loto2-sm-siteI had been painting all my life. In 1970 I made a major shift. I decided to paint full time and have been doing that for the past 25 years. What I have been seeking in my work are qualities little appreciated in the commercial art world over the past several decades — expressions of deep feeling and emotion in the representation of figure and landscape.

I did step back briefly two years ago into my research life, summarizing changes in the legal profession during the past 30 years for a new introduction for republication in paperback of my Chicago study, Lawyers on Their Own. I also did a painting for the new book cover.

Like my paintings, the books I have written form a picture of the legal world drawn largely from the vivid account of the lawyers I interviewed. In both my legal research and my painting I have been trying to picture my feelings for and understanding of significant areas of life around me.

December 1995

The painted memories of Jerome Carlin

June 1, 1993 § 2 Comments

Jerome Carlin | Reflections (1972)

Jerome Carlin | Reflections (1972)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Art of California

Jerome Carlin’s autobiographical paintings are an exploration of memory and emotion. The source of Carlin’s series is a collection of family photographs dating from the 1930s and 1940s in Chicago.

“I came across quite a few family photographs my mother had carefully saved. I found them enthralling. There was somehing about the strong memories — the emotions that they brought back. Looking at the photographs I could remember the time, the place, the people. The color just came quite naturally — remembering it or the way it felt.”

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Jerry Carlin and the Breakfast Club

October 24, 1990 § Leave a comment


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