Michael McManus, 1952-2013
Former Chief Curator, Laguna Art Museum
One of the great treasures of the Southern California art world, artist/critic/curator/teacher Michael McManus passed away at his home on the evening of Saturday, August 10. Originally from Ohio, where he earned a BFA at the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1976, Michael received an MFA from the University of California, San Diego in 1981. Active as an artist and thoroughly engaged in art theory and history, Michael wrote hundreds of reviews for Artweek during the 1980s. In 1987 he became Chief Curator at Laguna Art Museum, where he organized exhibitions such as Steven Heino: Constructions; Jane Gottlieb: Photographs; Larry Bell: Light on Surface; California Arts 39: Michael Davis and Lawrence Gipe; Liga Pang and Michael Todd; Kathleen Marshall: Gouaches; and The Orange County Invitational.
After leaving the museum in 1989, Michael began to focus more on his art. He had his first solo exhibition at the Peter Blake Gallery in Laguna Beach in 1995. At the same time he taught writing, aesthetics, and art history at the Art Institute of Southern California (now Laguna College of Art + Design). A debilitating heart condition forced Michael to quit teaching in 2004, and his health deteriorated after that.
A brilliant thinker, writer, and orator, Michael had an encyclopedic knowledge of art and could talk in detail on any related subject. He was as passionate about art as he was knowledgeable; any discussion with him was bound to broaden your view of art. An intellectual with a deep passion for nature, Michael was a mentor to many and was invariably gracious with his time and knowledge. His passionate, challenging intellect has inspired students, colleagues, and friends alike to expand their own thinking about art, history, and aesthetics.
There will be a celebration of Michael’s life at Laguna College of Art + Design on Sunday, September 8 at 2:00 p.m.