Back to the Beginning
Our illustrious benefactors
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Back to the Beginning

Founders--our illustrious benefactors.  You are already there!

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Jesse Reichek and James Prestini put together the Creators Equity Foundation in 1982 in an effort to assist young artists who were struggling financially.

Although neither of the founders was an architect, both had been hired by the visionary Dean of Architecture at U.C. Berkeley, William Wurster, to teach architecture students. Mr. Reichek came to the University in the 1950's on the recommendation of Gyorgy Kepes, an artist and photographer of Bauhaus renown, who had known and worked with Mr. Reichek.

A year or two after Mr. Reichek's arrival, Dr. Wurster asked him to recommend someone for the woodworking shop, and Mr. Reichek referred him to his friend Prestini.

Reichek and Prestini taught generations of architecture and city planning students over their thirty years of tenure. Their ideas and philosophies were central to much discussion and debate in the U.C. Berkeley Architecture Department and, later, the College of Environmental Design from the '50's through the '70's.

The two men, close friends and ideological colleagues, were eight years apart in age. Prestini was born in 1908 in Waterford, Connecticut, and received a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from Yale in 1930. Already steeped in art and industrial design, he continued his studies at the University of Stockholm and eventually landed a teaching job at the acclaimed Institute of Design (known in art circles as the I.D.) in Chicago in the 1940's, when Reichek was a student there, assisting Lazlo Moholy-Nagy.

After several other teaching stints in the United States, Prestini went to Italy to study sculpture for three years. It was from Italy that Wurster summoned him to teach at Berkeley.

James Prestini was honored by many awards and prizes. He is best known as a creator of turned wood bowls, and his pieces appear in the collections of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Smithsonian Institution.

The correspondence Prestini left behind at his death in 1993 contained dialogues with many illustrious figures in architecture and industrial art. His loss was deeply felt by his students and colleagues.

Jesse Reichek was born in Brooklyn in 1916 and started his working life as an industrial designer, designing furniture and other goods from 1934 to 1939. After studying at Moholy-Nagy's school in Chicago in 1940 and 1941, he was drafted into the Army and then released in 1946 after serving four years.

From 1947 to 1951, Reichek studied art in Paris and, at the end of that period, was granted a one-man show at the prestigious Galerie Cahiers D'Art. In 1951, he returned to the I.D. in Chicago, where he had been a student, as the head of the Industrial Art Department, having been hired by Serge Chermayeff, famous painter, poet, and architect. He was hired away by Berkeley in 1953.

Reichek has had many one-man shows, has been the recipient of many awards, has produced four books of drawings and etchings, and has written a number of articles published in Arts and Architecture, The Journal of the American Institute of Architects, and others. He still paints five or six hours a day every weekday at his rural home in Marin County, California.