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Sushi Contemporary Performance and Visual Arts Archive
MSS 741  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Historical Background
  • Publication Rights
  • Restrictions
  • Acquisition Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Scope and Contents of Collection

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Sushi Contemporary Performance and Visual Arts Archive
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS 741
    Contributing Institution: Mandeville Special Collections Library
    9500 Gilman Drive
    La Jolla, California, 92093-0175
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 28.2 Linear feet (61 archives boxes, 3 card file boxes, 1 records carton and 5 mapcase folders)
    Date (bulk): Bulk, 1980-2000
    Date (inclusive): 1976 - 2010
    Abstract: Archive of Sushi Contemporary Performance & Visual Arts documents the organization from its inception in 1980, to its end in 2011, and records Sushi's contribution to the San Diego art scene. The collection details the activities of the organization and provides a rich record of contemporary performance art, dance and visual art during the 1980s and 1990s. Materials include administrative files, clippings, ephemera, recorded performances, promotional and event photographs, and artist files.
    Creator: Sushi Performance & Visual Art.

    Historical Background

    Sushi Contemporary Performance and Visual Arts was founded in 1980 by visual artist Lynn Schuette. Sushi developed from the 1979 visual and performance series Artists Work Here, also organized by Schuette. The non-profit organization was created to be an alternative exhibition and performance space that would support both local and visiting contemporary artists.
    Sushi became one of the most active contemporary art and performance programs on the West Coast. The organization supported, presented and commissioned both established and emerging artists from diverse ethnic, cultural, sexual and personal backgrounds. Programming featured local, national and international performance artists including Laurie Anderson, David Cale, Karen Finley, Whoopi Goldberg, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Holly Hughes, Tim Miller and Rachel Rosenthal. Along with performance art, Sushi also featured dance and visual arts, hosting annual events such as Black Choreographers Moving and StreetSites as well as seasonal programming and gallery shows.
    The economic recession in 2008, along with several years without a permanent home, left Sushi struggling. In 2011, after more than thirty years presenting innovative performances, Sushi's board of directors voted to dissolve the organization.

    Publication Rights

    Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.


    Artist contracts with social security numbers are restricted until 2075. Redacted copies may be requested. Original media is also restricted. Researchers must request user copies be produced.

    Acquisition Information

    Not Available

    Preferred Citation

    Sushi Contemporary Performance and Visual Arts Organization, MSS 741. Mandeville Special Collections Library, UCSD.

    Scope and Contents of Collection

    The Sushi Contemporary Performance & Visual Arts Archive documents the organization from its inception in 1980, to its end in 2011, and records Sushi's contribution to the San Diego art scene. The early files, those dating from the 1980s & 1990s are more robust than those from the 2000s.
    The ADMINISTRATIVE FILES series contains materials related to the day-to-day work of running the organization. The files are arranged in two subseries: A) General Files and B) Visual Arts Files. These distinctions were made by Sushi and retained through processing. There is some overlap between the two subseries.
    A) The General Files subseries includes membership materials, financial information, fundraising files and general information about Sushi. Of particular interest are the Board of Directors files which document the more specific details of running a non-profit art organization.
    B) The Visual Arts Files subseries, maintained only from the mid-1980s through 1994, contains information regarding the Sushi art gallery, show preparation and proposals, materials detailing the selection process, as well as grant funding research and requests.
    The PRESS FILES consist of photocopies of newspaper and magazine articles about Sushi and its programs, as well as press releases regarding various events. The files are arranged chronologically. Also found in the series are event calendars and original paste-ups for various performance programs. Additional press releases and clippings can also be found in SERIES 4, within individual artist and event files.
    The EPHEMERA FILES consist of brochures, postcards, event calendars, flyers, posters and other printed matter, used to advertise Sushi programming and events. The original order of the series has been maintained, with the bulk of the ephemera arranged chronologically by season. Specific performance ephemera can sometimes be found in SERIES 4, within individual artist and event files
    SERIES 4: PERFORMANCE FILES The PERFORMANCE FILES series documents Sushi's various performance art and dance programs, from planning to execution. The files include contracts, clippings, resumes, programs, correspondence and ephemera for artists who performed at Sushi. The series is arranged in two subseries: A) Artists and B) Events.
    A) The Artists files are arranged alphabetically by name. In many instances, artists would perform on a double bill, along with one or two others. In these cases, multiple artists may be found in a single file, although their performances were not collaborative. Photographs of these artists have been separated from the original files and relocated to the PHOTOGRAPHS & SLIDES series for preservation purposes. Also, recordings of performances may be found in the MEDIA series.
    B) The Events subseries contains files related to the planning and execution of various programs and events. Files for the dance series Black Choreographers Moving and the annual performance series Neofest make up the bulk of the subseries. Other performance events are arranged chronologically and include CrossArts; Public Women, Private Concerns; and Kultur Mix. Photographs from these performance events have been separated from the original files and relocated the the PHOTOGRAPHS & SLIDES series for preservation purposes. Performance recordings may be found in the MEDIA series.
    The VISUAL ARTS FILES series includes materials related to gallery shows, installations and events involving Sushi's visual arts program. The files were maintained seperately from performance files by Sushi and retained through processing. The files are arranged in three subseries: A) Artists, B) Group Shows and C) Events.
    The files contain contracts, project proposals, ephemera, resumes, artist statements, and, in some cases, original sketches. The Artists subseries is arranged alphabetically by name and both the Group Shows and the Events subseries are arranged chronologically. Original images of these shows have been relocated to the PHOTOGRAPHS & SLIDES series.
    The PHOTOGRAPHS & SLIDES series contains the visual record of Sushi and its performers. The series is arranged, by format, in three subseries: A) Photographs, B) Albums, and C) Slides.
    A) The Photographs subseries contains both black & white and color photographs of artists, performances, and events, as well as the Sushi offices and staff. Many artist photographs were taken by professional photographers and sent to Sushi for promotional reasons.
    B) The Albums subseries contains four albums with both labeled and unlabeled color snapshots. Two albums appear to document various events during 1997 and 1998. Two additional albums contain photographs of the Red Ball annual event, though these images are not dated.
    C) The Slides subseries comprises the bulk of the series. This subseries contains images of performances and events held at Sushi. The slides provide the most complete visual record of performances at Sushi.
    Sushi maintained a "slide archive" in binders, in a loose chronological order. The slides were removed from the binders, but the original order was maintained. There is some overlap between folders and many of the slide sheets are not labeled. A small number of slides related to the visual arts program were also maintained seperately. A large number of slides - those not housed as part of the "slide archive" - were rehoused and arranged by subject.
    The MEDIA series contains audio and video recordings of performances, interviews and publicity, as well as digital files of both images and administrative work. These materials are grouped by format and are restricted. Researchers wishing to gain access to these materials must request, from the Director of Special Collections, that user copies be produced.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Art--California--San Diego--20th century
    Art--California--San Diego--21st century
    Dance--California--San Diego--20th century
    Dance--California--San Diego--21st century
    Performance art
    Performing arts--California--San Diego--20th century
    Performing arts--California--San Diego--21st century