The following information was submitted in September of 2006 by Norm
Hodgson, Cal State University East Bay Curatorial Associate, Willits
Center Gallery Director
Helen Shafter Feyler Switz was born in Philadelphia Pennsylvania on
March 25, 1925. She died in Fremont California on July 18,
2006. Helen was brought up during the Depression with her two
sisters by her mother,who had been abandoned by their father shortly
after Helen was born. Even under such hard conditions, Helen
showed early artistic abilities when at age eight, a painting she did
of one of the Seven Dwarfs was exhibited during a Philadelphia City
Christmas Pageant .
She went on to receive her Bachelors
Degrees in Art and French at Temple University and her Masters Degree
in sculpture from California State Long Beach. She was married in
1949, in a May-December union to a man 25 years older, Alfred Feyler;
they moved from Philadelphia to Garden Grove, California where Helen
began to teach as well as study.
From 1965 to 1966
she studied at the Royal Acadamy of Fine Arts at the Hague, Holland
with J.J. Beljon. Her career as a sculptor clarified under his
tutelage and their collaborations on various public works. Also,
during this time Helen became aware of the fact that she suffered from
diabetes---a condition she dealt with for the rest of her life; she
also had a small malignancy removed from her right breast. Her
personal health issues emphasized those themes in her work dealing with
the roles of women, their strengths and sensitivities.
returning to the States, she discovered that her husband had terminal
cancer and he died soon after. Helen continued teaching and
working with the help of a family friend, Lou Switz. By 1970 it
was clear that she and Lou were in love, and they were soon married at
her sister's house in Brigantine, New Jersey.
Lou and Helen
traveled to many places from which Helen drew inspiration for her work,
including New Guinea, Ukraine and China. China's influence was
very specific to her and some pieces such as her bronzes and cast
concrete forms show an Asian influence. In a lifetime devoted to
art, Helen shared creative visions with students in her classrooms,
teaching at various times at Chabot and Ohlone in the San Francisco Bay
Area; Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, California; Cypress College
in Cypress; and California State at Fullerton.
Many of her works are publicly displayed: Emerging Spirit, a wood sculpture at Chabot College; Sanctuary Cross In Oak at first United Methodist Church in Fremont; and Christ and St. Francis at St. Francis High School in Mountain View.
the last twenty years Helen had to also carry the burden on having a
leg bone replaced due to cancer. The metal rod was set into a
concrete "hip" which required her to walk with a cane. Helen
never allowed her disabilities to slow her down. She had a large
work area behind her house where her wooden "monoliths" were carved,
where concrete forms were built by her for large artworks ,and a kiln
was used to create bronze sculptures using a 'lost wax process'.
Helen did all of these steps by herself. Her attention to
perfection of technique, style and form is evident in all her works; as
a teacher she would not have had it any other way. Her works are
all examples of artistic perfectionism while retaining a sense of fluid
spontaneity and creativity. Her works are considered ahead of
their time for a woman to have been involved in architectural concrete
yet they retain a purely feminist spirit at the same time.
died 8 days shy of her 35th wedding anniversary to Lou Switz. She
has left a legacy of sculptures paintings, silkscreen , photographs and
other works incorporating the principles of strength and simplicity
that she so cherished. Her mediums included oils, acrylic, wood,
various stones carvings, woodblocks, ceramics and jewelry.
Her styles during her life ranged through the impressionist,
expressionist, cubist, abstract and action. She has been well
exhibited in shows throughout her life from Big Sur, in various
exhibitions around the Bay Area and up into Sacramento. A teacher-artist she thrilled at
seeing her students create and pursue their own muse; the power and
beauty of her works' legacy defines the woman and her life.
The Royal Academy of Fine Arts worked with Dutch Sculptor, J.J. Beljon, the Hague, Holland
California State University, Long Beach, California, M.A., B.A. (Phi Beta Kappa)
Aspen School of Art worked with French sculptor, Francois Stahly, Aspen, Colorado
University of Southern California
Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
EXHIBITIONS - SOLO
1992 The Bartlett Gallery, Pleasanton, Ca.
1986 Ohlone College, Fremont, Ca.
1985 Oakland Art Gallery, Oakland, Ca.
1979 Bakersfield College, Bakersfield, Ca.
Chabot College, Hayward, Ca.
1978 Sun Gallery, Hayward, Ca.
1969 Hicks Gallery, Long Beach, Ca.
1967 Dorian Hunter Gallery, Fullerton, Ca.
EXHIBTIONS - GROUP - SELECTED
1996 "MOTHER LODE' SCULPTURE - Vault Gallery, Sonora, Ca.
REGIONAL CONFEREINCE - Prieto Gallery - Mills College, Oakland, Ca.
1995 CULTURAL ARTS COUNCIL PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBIT - Alameda County Library, Fremont, Ca.
the Door" - Pacific Rim Sculptors Group - Contract Design Center, San
1994 CULTURAL ARTS COUNCIL PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBIT - Alameda County Library, Fremont, Ca.
International-Art in the Annex-Hayward Arts Council, Hayward, Ca.
"SELECTIONS 1994" - The Cork Gallery, Avery-Fisher Hall, Lincoln
Center, NY, NY
THROUGH CAMERA and SCULPTURE 1994" - Bartlett Gallery, Pleasanton, Ca.
1993 INVITATIONAL NATIONAL "STATE OF THE ART '93" - New England Fine Arts Institute, Mass.
INVITATIONAL "RECYLCING FAIRE '93" - Garbage Museum, Fremont, Ca.
1992 "10th ANNUAL INVITATIONAL EXHIBIT” – Bartlett Gallery, Pleasanton, Ca.
PHOTOGRAPHERS EXHIBIT” – Center for the Visual Arts, Oakland, Ca.
INTERNATIONAL ‘Women in Photography” – Sardinia, Palermo, and Milan,
1991 “WOMEN ON WOMEN” Exhibition – Fort Mason Center, San Francisco
INTERNATIONAL “Women in Photography” – Academy of Fine Arts, Univ.of
Catania, Sicily, Italy
61st Annual Statewide Exhibit – Art League, Santa Cruz, Ca.
INTERNATIONAL 1991 EXHIBITION “Women in Photography” – Kultur Huset,
“Issue:EARTH”, US & Canada Exhibition, Brandstater Gallery, Loma
Linda University, Riverside, Ca.
1990 INTERNATIONAL “Women in Photography” – The Royal
Photographic Society, National Centre of Photography, Bath, England
“PERMANENT COLLECTION”, SUN Gallery, Hayward, Ca.
“NATIONAL EXHIBITION 1990”, Berkeley Art Center, Berkeley, Ca.
INTERNATIONAL “Women in Photography”, Portland School of Art Gallery,
Subject is Breast Cancer” National Exhibit, Washoe Medical Center,
Subject is Breast Cancer” National Exhibit, Matrix Gallery, Sacramento,
“Body & Psyche” – Accurate Art Gallery, Sacramento, Ca.
INTERNATIONAL “Women in Photography” – Photographic Center Northwest
Gallery, Seattle, Washington
1989 INTERNATIONAL 1989 EXHIBITION – “Woman in
Photography”, Pacific Grove – on tour until 1992 – US, Canada, Europe,
“Perspectives ’89:the Disability Life Experience” – Accurate Art
Gallery, Sacramento, Ca.
the Gaps” – National Juried Exhibition-Photo, Women’s Art Gallery, San
1988 “Women Artists ‘88” National Juried Exhibition, Matrix Gallery, Sacramento, Ca.
Melissa Harmon, Curated by Nancy Franks, Hatley-Martin Gallery, San
Annual National Juried Exhibition, Berkeley,
1987 “Eleven New Artists” Editions Limited Gallery, San Francisco, Ca.
“Bay Arts ‘87”, Belmont, Ca.
“Forms in Space”, Sun Gallery, Hayward, Ca.
1986 Juried Exhibition ’86, Centennial Hall, Hayward, Ca.
1985 WCA (Woman’s Caucus for Arts) Curated Show, Sun Gallery, Hayward
1984 “Bay Arts ’84,”, Belmont, Ca.
sister is Watching”, South of Market Street Cultural Center, San
1983 Forum of Arts, Hayward, Ca.
“Organic Geometry”, Studio One Art Gallery, Hayward, Ca.
“Four Artists”, Olive Hyde Art Gallery, Fremont, Ca.
1982 Invitational – International Sculpture Conference, Centennial Hall, Hayward, Ca.
Invitational – Humboldt State University, Arcata, Ca.
1981 “San Jose Regional 3-D”, San Jose, Ca.
1980 “Sculptors 8”, Invitational, Sun Gallery, Hayward, Ca.
“Expo ‘80”, Chabot College, Hayward, Ca.
1979 Juried Art Exhibition, Livermore, Ca.
Invitational Art Exhibition, Hayward, Ca.
1978 Invitational Art Forum, Hayward, Ca.
1977 Invitational Sculpture, Center of rhte Visual Arts,
Juried Art Exhibition ’77, Hayward, Ca.
1976 “Spectrum”, Art Exhibit, Sun Gallery, Hayward, Ca.
Juried Art Exhibit, Fremont, Ca.
1973 Long Beach Art Association, Long Beach, Ca.
1971 Juried Sculpture Show of Southern California
1967 5th Annual So. Calif. Exhibition, Art Museum, Long Beach, Ca.
1966 Juried Show, Lakewood, Ca.
1965 Long Beach Art Museum, Long Beach Art League, Orange, Ca.
1964 Juried Exhibit, Downey Art Museum, Downey, Ca.
1963 Long Beach Art Museum, Long Beach, Ca.
1996 LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD – NCWCA – Mills College, Oakland, Ca.
1991 SYMPOSIUM – “Women Behind the Images”, University of Catania, Sicily, Italy
1986 HONORABLE MENTION – Exhibition ’86, Centennial Hall, Hayward, Ca.
1979 SECOND – Art Exhibition, Livermore, Ca.
1977 PURCHASE AWARD – Art Exhibiton ’77, Centennial Hall, Hayward, Ca.
1976 MERIT – “Spectrum” Art Exhibit, Sun Gallery, Hayward, Ca.
HONORABLE MENTION – Juried Art Exhibit, Fremont, Ca.
1973 SECOND BEST OF SHOW – Art Association, Long Beach, Ca.
1971 BEST OF SHOW – Juried Sculpture of Southern California
1966 BEST OF SHOW - Juried Art Exhibit, Lakewood, Ca.
FIRST HONORABLE MENTION – Open Art Show, Long Beach, Ca.
1965 BEST OF SHOW – Art Exhibit, Long Beach, Ca.
THIRD BEST OF SHOW – Long Beach Art Museum, Long Beach, Ca.
HONORABLE MENTION – Art League, Orange, Ca.
HONORABLE MENTION – Downey Art Museum, Downey, Ca.
1964 SECOND – Art Exhibit, Long Beach, Ca.
1964 SECOND BEST OF SHOW – Art Association, Long Beach, Ca.
FIRST – Art Association, Long Beach, Ca.
FIRST – Downey Art Museum, Downey, Ca.
1963 FIRST – Open Art Show, Long Beach, Ca.
HONORABLE MENTION – Long Beach Art Museum, Long Beach, Ca.
1994 Private – “Blue/Green”, concrete waterfall sculpture, Fremont, Ca., 40’x16’x8’
1990 Private – “The Falls” – two bronze sculptures in Reflecting Pool, Rancho Santa Fe, Ca., 78”x12”x12”
1981 Public – Sanctuary Cross in oak, First United Methodist Church , Fremont, Ca., 168”x80”x8”
1981 Public – “Emerging Spirit”, wood sculpture in
laminated cedar, Chabot College, Hayward, Ca., 96”x14”x14” – base:
1980 Public – Christ and St. Francis repaired in wood, St. Francis High School, Mountain View, Ca.
1975 Private – Painting – portrait in oil, Hayward, Ca.
1973 Private – Walker Fountain in concrete and stained glass, Fountain Valley, Ca., 93”x12”x12” – base: 12”x144”x75”
1994 Chairperson of Art Review Board for City of Fremont, Ca.
1993 International Sculpture Conference TECH shops, Oakland, Ca.
Vice Chairperson of Art Review Board for City of Fremont, Ca.
1992 International Sculpture Conference, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Vice Chairperson of Art Review Board for City of Fremont, Ca.
1991 International Sculpture Conference, Chicago, Il.
Reappointed member of Art Review Board for City of Fremont, Ca.
1990 International Sculpture Conference, Washington, D.C.
Nature”, represented City of Fremont Art Review Board, Santa Barbara
1989 WCA National Conference in San Francisco, Ca.
Art Review Board for City of Fremont, Ca. – two-year tenure
1988 WCA National Conference in Houston, Tx.
1987 WCA President of Northern California Chapter
1986 BALA AUCTION, San Francisco, Ca.
National Conference in New York (President of Northern Calif. Chapter)
1985 HAFA AUCTION, Hayward, Ca.
with TONIA MACNEIL Women’s Caucus for Art Show, Sun Gallery, Hayward,
1984 Curated Central Bank Art Show for Center for the Visual Arts, Oakland, Ca.
Art Show with Suzann Boettger, Bernice Bing, Rosalie Cassell and
Thomas, South of Market Street Cultural Center, San Francisco, Ca.
1983 HAFA AUCTION, Hayward, Ca.
1982 Interviewed for Channel 3 – Cable TV during the
International Sculpture Conference in the Bay Area. This is being
1981 Judge of Bakersfield College Comm7unity Art Show, Bakersfield, Ca.
1980 Judge of St., Francis Art Show, Mountain View, Ca.
1977 Dedicated a wall of sculpture at Chabot College,
Hayward. Coordinated a team of six students in the creation and
installation of wood relief sculpture that measures 172”x300”x12” and
is the first permanent sculpture on the Chabot Campus.
1973 Judge of Laguna Beach Art Show, Laguna Beach, Ca.
1972 Judge of Long Beach Art Show, Long Beach, Ca.
1969 Judge of Saddleback College Art Exhibit, Mission Viejo, Ca.
1966 As a result of my work in the Symposium (see 1965),
J.J. Beljon extended special invitation to work with him in The
Hague. Beljon is Director of the Royal Academy of Art in the
Hague, Holland. Over five months were spent working with him in
his studios at the Academy.
1965 Participated in the INTERNATIONAL SCULPTURE SYMPOSIUM
at California State University, Long Beach. There were eight
renowned sculptors of various countries. I worked with the Dutch
sculptor, J.J. Beljon, and assisted in every facet of the work that
measured 125’ in length and 10’ in height and consisted of 19 units.
International Sculpture Conference
Organization of Women Architects and Design Professionals
Women’s Caucus for Art, San Francisco, (Northern Calif. Chapter of National) President 1985-1987
Center for the Visual Arts
Pro-Arts, Oakland, Ca
Chabot College, Hayward, Ca.
Ohlone College, Fremont, Ca.
Saddleback College, Mission Viejo, Ca.
Cypress College, Cypress, Ca.
California State University, Fullerton, Ca.
Bartlett Gallery, Pleasonton, Ca.
Deborah Biglin, Art Consultant, Skillman, New Jersey
1996 NEWSLETTER – Full Page w/photos – May – Martha Mezo
ARGUS – April – Jolene Thym
The TWIG – May
1995 INTERNATIONAL SCULPTURE CNETER magazine – Full Page Photo – July/August
1994 SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS – March – Robin Worthington
THE SUNDAY REVIEW – Feb – Rita Resare
1992 DANCE TEACHER NOW magazine – Oct – Shirley W. McPhail
INTERNATIONAL SCULPTURE CENTER magazine – May/June
CATALOGUE – “Issue-EARTH”, La Sierra University, Riverside, Ca.
1992 WCA NATIONAL UPDATE – Vol. 2, No.3, and Vol.3, No.1, Washington, D.C.
VALLEY TIMES – Jan – Linda Davis
DAILY REVIEW – Jan – Jolene Thym
ARGUS – Jan and Oct – Jolene Thym
HERALD – Jan and Oct – Jolene Thym
The TWIG – Jan and Mar
1991 FORT MASON CENTER – Dec – San Francisco, Ca.
ARGUS – Dec
SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS – Feb-Nov – Robin Worthington
F2 WOMEN IN PHOTOGRAPHY – Summer – Alexadra Milovanovich
NATIONAL UPDATE – Vol. 2, No. 1 and Vol. 2, No. 2 Washington, D.C.
KULTURFORVALTNINGEN, Stockholm Sweden
The TWIG – May
BATH EVENTS – Bath, England
ARGUS – Feb
1990 ARGUS – Oct – Diane Dawson
SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS – Feb – Oct – Robin Worthington
NEWS RELEASES – September
EVENING EXPRESS – July, Portland, Maine
ON THE WING – Mar – Sylvia Tessore
ARGUS – Feb 25 – Cheryl Greger
1989 “ZOOM” International Magazine – Oct/Nov
THE CALIFORNIA ART REVIEW – 2nd edition
OAKLAND TRIBUNE – Nov 10 – Ann Peaslee
DAILY REVIEW – Nov
ARGUS – Jan and Nov
SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS – Jan and September
INTERNATIONAL SCULPTURE CENTER magazine – Sept/Oct – May/June – Jan/Feb
1988 ARGUS – September
1987 ORGANIZATION OF WOMEN ARCHITECTS AND DESIGN PROFESSIONALS – November
ALAMEDA TIMES STAR – May – Martha Kennelly
1987 ARGUS – April
– “Beyond Power – A Celebration” – WCA/South Exposure Gallery, San
CENTER for the VISUAL ARTS – January/February
DAILY REVIEW – May
HERALD – May – Martha Kennedy
OAKLAND TRIBUNE – April and May – Charles Shere
SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS – April – Robin Worthington
1986 ARGUS – March
DAILY REVIEW – March
1985 ARGUS – March
DAILY REVIEW - April
OAKLAND TRIBUNE – April
1983 ARGUS – February
1982 CATALOGUE OF SCULPTORS
CENTER FOR THE VISUAL ARTS – August/September
1981 ARGUS – May and June
1980 ARGUS – May
ARTWEEK – May 31 – Mollie O’Neill
DAILY REVIEW – June
1979 BAKERSFIELD NEWS – September
ARTWEEK - March
ARGUS – February and October
OAKLAND TRIBUNE – February
1977 ARTWEEK – May
1967 5th Annual SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EXHIBITION CATALOGUE