December 18, 2020
Dear Members of Our Campus Community,
I write to share with you the sad news that Professor Emeritus Michael Arntz passed away on June 2, 2020. Our hearts go out to his wife, UC Santa Barbara alumna and fellow artist Penny Schuchman Arntz, and their family, as well as to his wide circle of colleagues and friends for this painful loss.
Professor Arntz was a prolific ceramic artist and the recipient of prestigious art fellowships, awards, and grants. He was invited to participate in both national and international exhibits that spanned the course of his career. As a craftsman in the mid-20th century, he remains today a seminal figure in the California Design movement, as well as a cherished faculty member and teacher on our campus. To celebrate his legacy and memory, we lowered our campus flag to half-staff on June 16.
Professor Arntz was born in 1939. His father lived in Santa Monica and his mother in Oklahoma City, the latter being where he completed his early education. His high school athleticism led to a football scholarship at Santa Monica City College, and he continued to play at California State University, Long Beach. There he also pursued his passion for ceramics and earned both his Bachelor of Arts degree, 1962, and Master of Fine Arts degree, 1964. While still a student, Michael began work with Dave Cressey of Architectural Pottery, and continued to work there after graduation as lead designer-craftsman from 1963 to 1965.
It was in 1965 that Professor Arntz was recruited and joined UC Santa Barbara as a Professor of Studio Art. During his 38 years teaching at UC Santa Barbara, he was beloved by students and respected among his faculty peers, and in turn was deeply devoted to our campus. He remained a passionate advocate for UC’s Natural Reserve System and expanded his arts repertoire to nature photography, particularly Sedgwick Reserve.
Professor Arntz served as Chair of the Department of Art from 1981 to 1987, received many grants and awards, garnered commissions, juried art panels, and traveled internationally with his body of sculptures. He received, among others, the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award for research and creative endeavor in ceramics, titled “Sculpture in an Architectural Environment,” in 1968; the Pearl Chase Fund Award for “Research in Ethnic Arts and Artifacts” in 1986; and a National Endowment for the Arts commission for art installations in our national parks. After becoming Professor Emeritus in 2003, he continued to pursue art, particularly photography.
Professor Arntz’s delight in teaching undergraduate and graduate students at UC Santa Barbara equaled his passion for the studio. He relished life and set a high standard for pursuing one’s passion with both professionalism and unbridled enthusiasm. We are forever graced with his body of work and indebted to him for the artistic legacy he left our campus community.
Henry T. Yang