The Pasadena arts community is in mourning following the passing of artist and curator Jay Belloli on Friday, May 21.
“We are saddened to share that our dear friend, brother and All Saints Church parishioner Jay Belloli died this weekend at his home,” All Saints Episcopal Church announced on Wednesday.
Details about Belloli’s death were not immediately available.
Memorial services were pending, the church said.
“No one had a bigger heart than Jay. His ministry with Foster Care Project, the All Saints Church Accessibility Ministry and as a Lay Eucharistic Visitor were just some of the ways that he touched and changed lives. He was a visionary artist, a dear friend and a companion in joy,” All Saints said in a Facebook post.
The post’s comment thread was full of remarks by friends, acquaintances and fans.
“Dear Jay, I will miss your loving, talented, creative soul. Rest in peace,” wrote Marshall Nalle Ayers.
“So, so sad to read this. What a wonderful person Jay was,” said Joan Fauvre, former executive director of the Pasadena Education Foundation.
“As a curator, Jay gave many, many artists an opportunity to exhibit their work. A generous soul. RIP Jay,” added Altadena author Linda Centell.
“He was wonderful,” said former Pasadena Board of Education member Mikala Rahn.
“I am at a loss for words. He was such a wonderful man. His memory will be a blessing,” wrote Jim Albarano.
Belloli also won praise from people he directly worked with in the city’s arts community.
“We are all deeply shocked and saddened by Jay’s passing. Jay was the kindest, most honest, dedicated, and intellectually curious soul I know. We will all miss his spirit and are reminded of the fragility of our existence,” Scott Ward, former executive director of the Armory Center for the Arts, told Pasadena Now.
“For 20 years,” states a separate note from the Armory, “Jay was our exhibitions director, but he was also our friend and mentor. Jay’s devotion to emerging artists and grassroots arts organizations throughout the region is a legacy few will equal in their lifetime. We ask you to please join us today in remembering this kind, generous, dedicated soul. Thank you, Jay.”
For years, wrote Rochelle Branch, cultural affairs manager for the city of Pasadena, “Jay’s name was synonymous with the Armory. It was his vision that set the tone for most of the contemporary art exhibitions in the city. His reach was far, his humor delightful and his imprint is long lasting. He will be remembered as a Pasadena icon.”
Belloli was a freelance contemporary art and astronomy curator and a contemporary art writer who developed art collections, coordinated contemporary art books, and advised contemporary artists, according to Linked In.
His recent exhibitions included “Mars: Astronomy and Culture,” 2017; a retrospective of sculptor and painter Claire Falkenstein, 2016; the photography exhibitions “California Nature,” 2018, and “Urban California,” 2015; and a retrospective of printmaker, tapestry artist and painter June Wayne, 2014. In 2011 he organized an exhibition that was part of the Getty Museum’s Pacific Standard Time program: “46 N. Los Robles: A History of the Pasadena Art Museum.”
From 2014 to 2016 he organized a collection of over 250 artworks for Monte Cedro, in Altadena. In 2016, he was named interim executive director of the Pasadena Museum of California Art California.
In 2012, Belloli coordinated a book on Claire Falkenstein, and in 2011 a book on contemporary artist Roberta Eisenberg.
In addition, Belloli served as curator or director at the Armory Center for the Arts, the former Baxter Art Gallery at Caltech; the Detroit Institute of Arts; the Museum of Modern Art, Fort Worth; the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art; the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.
In Southern California, Belloli was the director of gallery programs at the Armory from 1990 through June 2010. During that time he had administrative and budgetary responsibility for the gallery and organized more than twenty-five exhibitions, including solo exhibitions by such artists as Tim Hawkinson, Craig Kauffman, and Robert Rauschenberg.
From 1989 through 2004, he also served as art consultant to the Jonathan Club and Jonathan Art Foundation in Los Angeles, which specializes in California Impressionism.
Throughout that period, Belloli maintained roles as vice-president of The Falkenstein Foundation in Los Angeles, president of the board of trustees of Southwest Chamber Music in Pasadena, and chair of the Giving Committee for the Vestry of All Saints.
He also organized or worked on major exhibitions, commissions, or temporary installations with such artists as Larry Bell, Daniel Buren, Dan Flavin, Robert Irwin, Nancy Graves, Tim Hawkinson, John McLaughlin, Yoko Ono, and Robert Rauschenberg.
According to a YouTube post, Billoli found his path in the art world in 1970. Prior to this, he attended Stanford University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree, but that year transferred to nearby UC Berkeley, the West Coast epicenter of the country’s growing anti-war and pro-civil rights movements. At Berkeley, he studied art history for his master’s degree and learned poster making.
“Jay was such an integral part of the All Saints Church community it is hard to find anyone who wasn’t touched by his empathetic heart and love of neighbor,” wrote the Rev. Susan Russell of All Saints.
“Whether serving as member of our governing board, taking communion to the homebound, organizing the annual Foster Care Project Art Show or as a faithful core member of our Jazz Vespers community, Jay brought with him to that work a joyful spirit and commitment to the core values of love, justice and compassion that defined his life. He will be deeply missed and we are all infinitely better for having been blessed to know and love him,” Russell wrote.
Monica Hubbard remembers that when she and her husband regularly attended All Saints Church she would find herself watching Belloli, who often sat in the side transept near them.
“In my mind there was a kind of aura or halo of goodness around him,” Hubbard said. “Just watching his quiet interactions with the person he was with and those around him radiated gentleness, kindness, compassion.”
“Jay was such a luminary in the local and national art world. And no matter where he turned his attention — whether to an arts institution, an individual artist, including budding young artists in our local foster care system, or to one of the many human service organizations he supported — Jay was overwhelmingly generous in sharing his incredible gifts and talents with skill, grace and good humor,” Hubbard said.
“Jay was a consistent, caring presence in myriad lives and his passing is a profound loss to his many friends and associates, and to our entire community.”
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