Calarts Campus

Jeannene Przyblyski (1959–2022)

Jeannene Przyblyski, former provost of California Institute of the Arts and School of Art faculty, passed away on Jan. 24, 2022. She was 62.

Przyblyski, who was remembered by San Francisco Chronicle as the “art school dean who saw expression in everything,” joined the Institute in 2012 after serving as vice president and dean of academic affairs at the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI). In announcing her as the new provost, former CalArts President Steven Lavine lauded her “deep commitment to consensus building and collaboration,” which “position[ed] her perfectly to help CalArts meet the challenges it faces in the … rapidly changing, artistic, economic and educational environment.”

Former dean of the School of Art Thomas Lawson shared the following remembrance: 

“She was quite remarkable, full of energy. Full on as provost, pushing the modernizations needed in all departments and schools, but also found time to co-teach a class with me. She shepherded a massive project, funded by LA County, to create place-making books in five unincorporated parts of south LA, with me and Harry Gamboa, plus some graphic design students and a number of alumni. Remarkable.”

Having served as a professor at the China Academy of Art and the Shanghai Academy of Art, Przyblyski was instrumental in forging new relationships between CalArts and other institutions. She notably utilized her connections at SFAI to develop an international MFA program at China Academy of Art (Hangzhou Academy) in China. 

In 2016, Przyblyski was among the speakers who delivered a “spark talk” on arts integration at The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Her talk was based on The Some Place Chronicles, a project that combined the talents and artistic practices of many CalArts alumni and faculty, including Lawson, Art faculty Harry Gamboa, and alumni Sandy Rodriguez (Art BFA 97), Nicole Miller (Art BFA 05), and Isabelle Lutterodt (Art MFA 01). During her spark talk (watch below), Przyblyski underscored the importance of arts integration:

“We want to build whole people. We want to help the growth of whole resilient citizens who are connected to each other and can reach their own personal goals and be nimble in the world no matter what it throws at them. And on the other hand, we want to see those people living in substantial and vibrant places where they feel connected to one another, where they can live and work and feel completely fulfilled.”

An accomplished artist, art historian, and educator, Przyblyski sought to connect the arts with local communities. She lectured at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and other cultural institutions in the Bay Area. Beyond academia, she served on the Board and Advisory Council of the San Francisco Planning and Research Association and the San Francisco Arts Commission, where she chaired the Visual Arts Committee and served on the Civic Design Review and Executive Committees. 

Since 2001, she was the executive director of visual arts and urbanism think tank San Francisco Bureau of Urban Secrets. She also led the team that helped develop then-San Francisco mayor and current governor of California Gavin Newsom’s arts policy paper for the city. Among her other roles were artist/consultant for the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and the visual arts committee co-chair for the San Francisco Arts Commission. 

Przyblyski is survived by her husband Eric and daughter Isabella.

portrait of a woman smiling
Former CalArts provost and School of Art faculty Jeannene Przyblyski | Photo credit: Steven Gunther