Jess, The Cast of Dice, 1958; collection SFMOMA, purchase, by exchange, through an anonymous gift; © JESS -The Jess Collins Trust and used by permission; photo: Katherine du Tiel
Free, Talks

Jess: Mythos and Memories

Thursday, Sept 12, 2019

7 p.m.

Koret Education Center, Floor 2

Free and open to the public; museum admission is not required.

Meet us at the museum and around the Bay for Local Affairs, a series dedicated to local arts communities. Join us as we celebrate Bay Area culture and artists of all disciplines, and share ideas, good will, food, and drink.

This series begins with a conversation about the artist known simply as Jess (1923–2004), one of San Francisco’s most enigmatic and essential figures. With his partner, the poet Robert Duncan, Jess transformed a Victorian row house in the Mission District into a repository of myth and fantasy filled with old books and curiosities; there, the couple played host to a revolving band of artists and outcasts. Jess’s approach to his life and work signals a shadow history of modern art in California, where a loose circle of artists pursued a different path.

Join us for recollections and casual conversation about the artist and his world, led by those who knew him and Duncan. This event also celebrates the launch of Tara McDowell’s book The Householders: Robert Duncan and Jess. Refreshments will be served.



Michael Palmer, poet who knew Jess and Duncan; author of Thread (2011) and The Company of Moths (2005)

Joanna McClure, poet who knew Jess and Duncan; author of Catching Light: The Collected Poems of Joanna McClure (2013)

Christopher Wagstaff, writer, editor, and curator; co-trustee of the Jess Collins Trust

Tara McDowell, curator, scholar, and author of the forthcoming book The Householders: Robert Duncan and Jess