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Philip Melnick | American, 1934 -


Philip Melnick has been actively involved with photography, art, music, and theater, since his early teenage years in the late 1940's. His first nationally published photographs date from the mid-1950's. He has exhibited personal work since the mid 1960s. Since the early 1970's, this work has taken the form of a number of long-term documentary-style photographic projects, presented as groups of mid-to large-scale black and white prints.

His themes have included an examination of a sense of style in the California urban landscape, the man-modified landscape of the Trans-Mississippi West, the artificial commercial landscape of the Wisconsin Dells, and most recently the character, variety, and sense of magic space, to be found in the arid plant displays of public greenhouses.

Work from these various projects has been presented in over twenty one-person shows include Orange Coast College, Kishwaukee College, the University of Chicago, the University of Oregon Museum of Art, Pennsylvania State University, B.C. Space, the A.R.C.O. Center for Visual Art, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, the Northern Illinois University Art Museum Gallery in Chicago, and the O.K. Harris Gallery, N.Y.C., over one hundred competitive and invitational group shows, several national publications, including Untitled, Exposure, Afterimage and Photography Annual 1979, and over twenty-five public collections including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College, Chicago, and the Seagrams Collection. Represented in the Museum of Contemporary Photography's Illinois Photographers Project, 1982-1989, Midwest Photographer's Project, 1990-2000.

He attended U.C. Berkeley in the mid 1950s, received a B.A. in Art (1966) and an M.F.A. in Pictorial Arts (1969) from the University of California at Los Angeles. He taught painting, drawing, and photography at the University of Southern California from 1969 to 1976; photography at Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa, California, 1976-1977, and at Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois from 1977, retiring as Professor Emeritus in June, 2000.


MFA degree in Pictorial Arts, U.C.L.A., Los Angeles, California, 1969.
AB degree in Art, U.C.L.A., Los Angeles, California, 1966.

Solo Exhibitions

The Artificial Desert, N.I.U. Art Museum Gallery in Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, 2000
Kishwaukee College, Malta, Illinois, 1999
The Ash Grove, Santa Monica, California, 1996.
South Suburban College, South Holland, Illinois, 1989.
Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College, Chicago, Illinois, 1987.
N.I.U., DeKalb, Illinois, 1981 and 1985.
Prairie State College, Chicago Heights, Illinois, 1985.
Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pennsylvania, 1980.
BC Space, Laguna Beach, California, 1980.
Photoworks, Richmond, Virginia, 1978.
O.K. Harris Gallery, New York, New York, 1977
Photography at Oregon Gallery, University of Oregon Museum of Art, Eugene, Oregon, 1977.
U.C.L.A., Los Angeles, California, 1969 and 1977.
Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa, California, 1977.
University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, 1976.
California State University, Northridge, California, 1976.
ARCO Center for Visual Art, Los Angeles, California, 1976.
The Ash Grove Galleries, Los Angeles, California, 1959, 1963, and 1968.

Selected Thematic Exhibitions and Group Shows

Behind the Wheel, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, California, 2012
Trouble In Paradise: Music and Los Angeles, 1945-1975, The GRAMMY Museum, Los Angeles, California,
February 22-June 3, 2012, Josh Kun and Ali Steubner, curators. Forty images for interactive installation
on the influence of the Ash Grove on music in Los Angeles (1958-1973).
The Empty Room, Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, 2006.
Nehring Center Invitational: Midwestern Landscape, The Nehring Center, DeKalb, Illinois, 2004.
25th Annual Photography at Oregon Exhibition and Auction, University of Oregon Museum of Art, Eugene,
Oregon, April, 2000.
Faculty Salon, (6 pieces from the Artificial Desert project), Northern Illinois University Art Museum Gallery in Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, 1999.
Selections from the Midwest Photographers Project, (group of 10 artists, 3 pieces from the Artificial Desert
project)-, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, Illinois, 1998.
Faculty Salon, Northern Illinois University Art Museum, DeKalb, Illinois, 1996, 1998.
Illinois Photographers in the 90s, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, 1997.
Kishwaukee College, Malta, Illinois. 1994.
Vision Gallery, San Francisco, California, 1992, and 1993.
University of Oregon Museum of Art, Eugene, Oegon, 1977, 1979, 1985, 1989, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1997,
Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, Illinois, 1982, 1987 (Illinois Photographers Project), 1988
(Silver Vision), and 1990 (Midwest Photographers Project).
Norris Cultural Arts Center, St. Charles, Illinois, 1985 and 1989.
Commitment to Vision, University of Oregon Museum of Art, Eugene, Oregon, 1986.
Celebrating Two Decades in Photography, Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts, Frederick S. Wight
Gallery, U.C.L.A., Los Angeles, California, 1985.
Arboretum,University of Denver/Unversity of Colorado at Denver, Denver, Colorado, 1983.
Illinois Arts Council Gallery, Chicago, Illinois, 1983.
J. Rutberg Fine Arts, Los Angeles, California, 1982.
Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa, California, 1982.
Friends of Photography, Carmel, California, 1982.
Illinois Photographers, ‘78 and ’82, Illinois State Museum, Springfield, Illinois (Purchase Awards).
BC Space, Laguna Beach, California, 1978 and 1981.
James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia, 1981.
Cameravision Gallery, Los Angeles, California, 1977 and 1979.
Photographic Directions, Los Angeles, 1979, Security Pacific National Bank, Los Angeles, California, 1979.
Ahmundson Gallery, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California, l978.
Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, 1977.
Fine Arts Exposition, California State Fair, Sacramento, California, 1977.
Emerging Los Angeles Photographers, Friends of Photography, Carmel, California, 1976, and International
Center of Photography, New York, New York, 1977.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, 1976.
Hampshire College Art Gallery, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1976.
All-California Photography Show, Laguna Beach Museum of Art, Laguna Beach, California, 1975 and 1976
(Purchase Award, 1976).
Frederick S. Wight Art Galleries, U.C.L.A., Los Angeles, California, 1976.
L.A. Photographs L.A., Santa Ana College, Santa Ana, California, 1976.
Santa Rosa Junior College Art Gallery, Santa Rosa, California, 1976.
Los Angeles Center for Photographic Studies, Los Angeles, California, 1975.
Comsky Gallery, Beverly Hills, California, 1974.
Camerawork Gallery, Fairfax, California, 1975.
Focus Gallery, San Francisco, California, 1975.
First Light, California State University at Humboldt, Arcata, California, 1975.
Gallery 115, Santa Cruz, California, 1973 and 1974.
Downey Museum of Art, Downey, California, 1973.
Fleisher-Anhalt Gallery, Los Angeles, California, 1967.
Pasadena Art Museum, Pasadena, California, 1967.

Grants and Fellowships

Project Completion Grant, Illinois Arts Council, Chicago, Illinois, 1979
Printer Fellow, Tamarind Lithographic Workshop, Los Angeles, California, 1967.

Selected Bibliography

Philo, Pheobe, Where There Is Pressure There Is Folk Dance, CELINE, SUMMER 2012 COLLECTION,
Paris, Celine, 2011, p. 72.
Gonzales, Saul, producer, Things That Aren’t Here Anymore, KCET-TV, Los Angeles, documentary
broadcast and DVD, 2010. Eight images.
Wolfgang’s Vault web site. A portfolio of 64 images of musicians associated with the Ash Grove folk music club in Los Angeles, California, made from 1956 to 1973, for sale as gelatin silver archival prints at 2009 to the present.
Calhoun, Jimi, A Story of Rhythm and Grace: What the Church Can Learn from Rock & Roll about Healing the Racial Divide, Brazos Press, Grand Rapids, 2009. Cover photograph.
Gorman, Steve, director of photography, Where The Action Is! Los Angeles Nuggets 1965 – 1968, Rhino Records, Los Angeles, California, 2009. One image in booklet, p. 41.
Paulo, Joaquim. Jazz Covers. Edited by Julius Wiedemann. Köln: Taschen, 2008. Cover
photography and design for four Impulse albums for Alice Coltrane, Sam Rivers, and Michael
White reproduced in the book: pp. 82, 83, 265, 352, and 452.
Berkman, Franya, Appropriating Universality:The Coltranes and 1960s Spirituality, American Studies, 48:1 (Spring 2007): 41-62, fig., 1 p. 51
Weinstein, Michael, “Photo Tip of the Week; NIU Art Gallery, Philip Melnick, “Artificial Desert,”
NEWCITY, Chicago, October 12, 2000, p. 37
Doolin, Marvin, “Retired Art Professor Shoots Ahead,” Northern Star, DeKalb, September 14, 2000,
Weekender, p. 9.
Foerstner, Abigail, “Museum of Contemporary Photography exhibits are Midwestern sampler,” Chicago Tribune (April 13, 1990): Section 7, p. 65.
Foerstner, Abigail, “Photography,” Chicago Tribune (June 24, 1988): Section 7, p. 59.
Chicago Tribune (March 27, 1987): Section 7, p. 68.
Featherstone, David, ed., Commitment to Vision, Eugene: University of Oregon Museum of Art, 1986.
Howe, Graham, ed., 20/20, Los Angeles: Graham Howe and Jack Butler, 1985. Limited edition portfolio (3 original photographic images by 23 artists).
Gedeon, Lucinda H., ed., Grunwald Center Studies VI 1985, Celebrating Two Decades in Photography, Los Angeles: Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts, University of California, Los Angeles, 1985.
I.C.P. Encyclopedia of Photography, “Biographical Supplement of Photographers,” New York: International Center of Photography, Crown Publishing Inc., 1984, p. 586.
Browne, Turner, and Elaine Partnow, eds., Macmillan Biographical Encyclopedia of Photographic Artists and Innovators, New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1983, p. 411
Elliot, David, “King Callahan Heads Photo Quartet at Columbia College,” Chicago Sun-Times (July 4,
Garner, Gretchen, “The Pencil of Nature, Part II,” Exposure, 19, no. 4 (1981): p. 22.
Pare, Richard, The Seagram’s California Photography Collection, New York: Joseph E. Seagram, 1981.
Ketchum, Robert Glenn, Photographic Directions, Los Angeles 1979, Los Angeles: Security Pacific Bank, 1979.
Witkin, Lee, and Barbara London, The Photograph Collector’s Guide, Boston: New York Graphic
Society/Little Brown and Co., 1979, p. 293.
Hughes, Jim, ed., Photography Annual 1979, New York: Ziff Davis Publishing Co., 1978, pp. 62 - 67 and p. 162.
Trebay, Guy, “A New York Welcome to L.A.,” New York Village Voice (March 28, 1977): p. 91.
McDarrah, Fred, “Voice Choices: Philip Melnick,” New York: Village Voice, March 14, 1977, p. 94.
Landweber, Victor, ed., Silver See, Los Angeles: Los Angeles Center for Photographic Studies, 1977.
Limited edition portfolio 20 original photographic images by 20 artists.
Afterimage (March, 1977) p. 23.
Alinder, James, ed., Exposure, 15, no. 1 (1977).
Canavor, Natalie, “Shows We’ve Seen,” Popular Photography (December, 1977): pp. 62 and 170 - 174.
Ballatore, Sandy, “New Spaces for Contemporary Art,” Artweek (May 22, 1976): pp. 1 and 16.
Stuart, Rodney, ed., “Emerging Los Angeles Photographers,” Untitled Eleven, (September, 1976): pp. 10, 14, and 38.
Nordlund, Gerald, The U.C.L.A. Photography Collection, Los Angeles: University of California at Los
Angeles, 1976.
Wilson, William, “ARCO Center for Visual Art,” Los Angeles Times (May 3, 1976): Pt. IV, pp. 1 and 2.
“L.A. Photographs L.A.,” Artweek (April 17, 1976) p. 12.
Murray, Joan, “Restless Adventuresome Images by Los Angeles Photographers,” Artweek (November 13, 1976): pp. 11 and 12.
Glenn, Constance, “Art in ARCO Plaza,” Art news (September, 1976): pp. 74 and 75.

Selected Collections

Bibliotheque National, Department of Estampes et de la Photographie, Paris.
California Museum of Photography, Riverside, California.
University of Colorado, Denver, Colorado.
Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts, Los Angeles, California.
Illinois State Museum, Springfield, Illinois.
Los Angeles Center for Photographic Studies, Los Angeles, California.
S.A. Art Collection, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois.
Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, Illinois.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts.
Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York.
University of New Mexico Museum of Art, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
University of Oregon Museum of Art, Eugene, Oregon.
Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, New Jersey.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California.
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, California.
Joseph E. Seagram Foundation Collection, Northridge, California.
Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington.
Frederick S. Wight Art Galleries, U.C.L.A., Los Angeles, California.

Professional Experience

2000 - Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois. Professor Emeritus.
1977 - 2000 Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois. Assistant Professor, Associate Professor(1980), and Professor (1988) of Art.
1976 - 1977 Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa, California. Instructor in Photography.
1969 - 1976 University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California. Instructor and Assistant Professor (1972) of Art.


Freelance photography and design for the recording industry, from 1969 to 1974, producing materials for record album jackets. Projects included albums for B.B. King, John Lee Hooker, Lightning Hopkins, Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry, Charles Brown, Milt Jackson, Gato Barbieri, Alice Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, John Klemmer, Archie Shepp, Sam Rivers, Joe Henderson, Howard Roberts, Canned Heat, and the James Gang.

Curator and faculty adviser to the director of the University Galleries for Photospace Gallery, an exhibit space within Northern Illinois University’s Swen Parson Galleries in which six or more one person shows per year by contemporary photographic artists were presented from 1981 to 1989. Artists who exhibited their work included Luciano de Alfaro III, David Avison, Frank Barsotti, Jerry Burchfield, Judy Coleman, Lucinda Devlin, Rita DeWitt, Don Dubroff, Sandi Fellman, Steve Foster, Richard Gordon, John Grady, Robert Heinecken, Suda House, Doug Ischar, Kenneth Josephson, Gene Kennedy, Jay King, Jerome Liebling, Elaine Mayes, Joan Moss, Toby Old, Shiela Pinkel, Dave Read, Richard Ross, Michael A. Smith, Jim Stone, Bob Thall, Todd Walker, Lloyd Wolf, and Jay Wolke.