Clifford Temps Honors Late Wife’s Legacy with Generous $300,000 Donation to the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery

Ruenell Temps

By Kendra Pintor

Clifford Temps, a friend of Scripps College, has generously donated $300,000 to the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery (RCWG) in remembrance of his late wife, sculptor and ceramic artist Ruenell Foy Temps. This substantial contribution pays homage to Ruenell’s artistic legacy, honors her memory, and serves as a beacon of support for the arts at Scripps.

While searching for a home for Ruenell’s art, Temps was moved by Scripps’ RCWG Collections Manager & Registrar Kirk Delman’s enthusiasm for mounting an exhibition of her work. Temps offered 15 pieces, ranging from functional pieces to sculptural vessels, which have already been accepted into the College’s permanent collection.

“I am deeply grateful for Kirk’s generous offer, and this donation is my way of saying thank you,” says Temps. “I’ll be sharing more of Ruenell’s work with the gallery, as well as copies of a book I commissioned author Sheridan Hill to write about Ruenell titled All I Have, published in 2021.”

“I feel very lucky to have been a part of this gift and look forward to meeting Mr. Temps when he arrives in August for a retrospective of his wife’s work,” says Delman.

Ruenell, acclaimed for her mastery of sculpture and ceramics, left an indelible mark on the art world. As a home economics major at UC Davis, Ruenell’s only elective, a design class, convinced her to major in art. She went on to apply for the master’s program at San Francisco Art Institute and was unanimously accepted by the entrance committee, only to have that acceptance revoked two weeks later after the committee realized she was a woman.

However, Ruenell didn’t give up. After persevering, she was admitted to UC Berkeley master’s degree program in ceramics, from which she later graduated.

Ruenell Temps Pottery Gallery

“I was mostly a peripheral member of the art community that Ruenell was deeply involved in,” reflects Temps. “My support for her and her work consisted of helping her pack up her art, getting her to various shows, and being there in support of what she loved to do.”

Throughout her career, Ruenell participated in more than 30 invitational and solo shows. In 1975, her work appeared in the 31st Ceramic Annual exhibition at Scripps College. The inclusion of her art in the College’s collection underscores her connection to the rich history of ceramics at Scripps.

A substantial portion of Temps’ donation will support special projects, including collections care, which is crucial for maintaining and preserving the integrity of artworks. This foundational support ensures that the gallery continues to serve as a vibrant hub for artistic expression and appreciation at Scripps.

“Having worked with many significant artists and teachers in the Bay Area from the 1960s through the 1990s, Ruenell’s work exemplifies the Northern California aesthetic that is missing from our collection,” says Delman.

Discussing the positive impact of the donation, Temps emphasized its primary focus on the art community at Scripps. He envisions the funds enabling the gallery to feature other artists and maintain their impressive work.

“It means a lot to have Ruenell and her work preserved and honored in this way,” says Temps. “My hope is that the shared enthusiasm and artistic appreciation of the Scripps and local community will breathe new life into Ruenell’s memory.”

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