JOHN DIRKS, SCULPTOR – A Retrospective, an exhibition of more than 40 sculptures spanning four decades, ran from November 11 through April 22, 2007. The elegant architectural sculptures combined exotic woods and acrylic, frequently including the Golden Mean/Section as a design element.
John Dirks’s sculptures and objects are in numerous public and private collections. Among his commissions are the Justice Tree on the Vista Courthouse patio, a collage in the foyer at Channel 10 and Lighted Star at the San Diego Sports Arena/ipayOne Center. He has exhibited at the World Congress of Craftsmen in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Crafts, New York, the Pomona Invitational National Arts and Crafts exhibition where his works were awarded first and second prizes, the San Diego Museum of Art and the San Diego Historical Society.
Mr. Dirks joined the Art Department at San Diego State College in 1948 and taught for 29 years. He served as a charter member of the Faculty Senate, Art Department faculty chair and President of the American Association of University Professors San Diego Chapter and was faculty advisor to the College Art Guild from 1950 until his retirement. Dirks received a Master of Fine Arts degree from Claremont Graduate School in 1960 and a Distinguished Teaching Award from San Diego State in 1972.
Born in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin in 1914, John Dirks moved with his family to California in 1921. Winner of the Distinguished Alumnus Award from San Diego’s Hoover High School, where he studied architectural drawing and crafts, he graduated from San Diego State College with a bachelor’s degree in art in 1937. He also lettered in football and track at both schools and was acknowledged as the fastest runner on both football teams. While in college, he established Dirks’ Design Workshop, a studio where he made small sculptures and wooden bowls that were sold by Gump’s in San Francisco as well as furniture for private collections in San Diego. During this period, his expertise in hi-fi equipment led him to build 26 music systems, becoming known for his speaker cabinets. (He later planned and installed the hi-fi system in the San Diego State Music Department.) In his senior year in college, he was selected by the art faculty to be assistant art supervisor at the Campus Lab School. He taught art at Hoover High School from 1939 – 1943, leaving there to become an instructor at Convair for the Army Air Corps. In 1944, he joined the Navy as an officer and after V-J Day became the officer in charge of completion of the Hobby Lobby, the largest hobby shop in the United States at that time and the first in a chain of hobby shops now found on ships and large military bases.
The exhibition was accompanied by John Dirks, Sculptor—A Conversation, published by Mingei International Museum.