Interview with the Muckenthaler Curator Lisa M. Berman

LISA M. BERMAN Photo by Bonnie Schiffman


Artist and Chief Curator at The Muckenthaler Cultural Center, 1201 W. Malvern Ave, Fullerton, CA 92833 | 714-738-6595 |

What is your role at the Muckenthaler?

Berman: As the Chief Curator of the two internal galleries (Main & North) and the 5-acre Sculpture Garden it’s my responsibility to curate or select visual art collections / exhibitions that are within the scope of the established Mission for the Muck.  Education is key, subject relevance and duration (permanent collection or a limited engagement exhibition) are all factors. As a curator, you are essentially a storyteller: To engage the audience and inspire both those new to the arts as well as seasoned viewers by creating a unique experience –it’s the ability to tell a cohesive story about the theme, medium(s) used or the artists career (Called a retrospective if they are especially notable). According to the Milwaukee Art Museum: “curating in a museum requires research, idea development and refinement, project management, budget management, programming considerations, educational training, decisiveness, and even interior decorating skills.” I have to take all of those into consideration. I have designed my own jewelry and fashion lines – its’ no different except the pace and the vernacular is different.

Is there any artist or exhibition that you are happy to share with the readers of the Fullerton Observer?

BermanThe upcoming exhibition titled INTERCULTURAL by Sheinina Lolita Raj –opening on Oct. 6th. If you’ve been to the Muck in 2022, then you’ve seen her portraits from her exhibition on the cover of the catalog. This is a unique opportunity for the Muckenthaler to present a global, critically acclaimed multi-award-winning show by an established artist – she was solely selected to represent the United States for the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations. Sheinina grew up struggling with the multi-heritage cultures within her house and now employs these engaging self-portraits in authentic traditional wear and poses as a “catalyst for conversation” for challenging subjects as identity, diversity, and inclusion. The Grammy Award Winning musician Nelly Furtado collaborated with her to compose four original songs to create a cohesive score to augment the QUADRAPHONIC Light Boxes in the exhibition. Sheinina creates a safe space for the audience to explore surging subjects by using artistry, compassion, and respect.

Can you tell us more about the upcoming events at the Muckenthaler?

BermanMy focus is only on the visual arts both inside the galleries and garden. After Shina’s exhibition closes on Dec. 8thwith the Proclamation by the Mayor, the galleries will be used for indoor concerts throughout the Holiday Season. The first show in January will host the annual students work from a collective of the local Fullerton High School(s). We also have a rotating exhibition of the Bill Stern Ceramics Collection (catalog $25) in the Alcove Gallery. All works are for sale and supports the 42 educational programs at the Muck.

What advice do you have for a young person who wants to be an artist?

BermanMAKE ART, MAKE ART, MAKE ART. Be adventurous, take a leap and try all kinds of mediums (materials) and make sure you take classes to become educated in the basics and in turn, those techniques will inform your interest, passion, and creative progress. The Muck has numerous class options for children and adults.

How can the community support and partner with Muckenthaler?

BermanOn-going engagement is paramount to the level of programming success – that occurs in many forms: The first is Financial – exhibitions require a budget that requires research, receiving/shipping, presentation / displays, installation and sometimes borrowing / lending fees from other collectors or institutions – this also requires more insurance. There are a lot of moving parts that most people aren’t aware of – it’s’ a mini-production. My husband was a filmmaker, it’s very similar to a film director/producer.  The community can also donate materials / services to mount an exhibition, produce printed materials (Printing an exhibition catalog is a requirement to maintain the “Museum” status they earned) and take classes. Volunteers are an important element to the system as well. My personal favorite: Buying ART is the most fundamental way to directly support the ARTISTS and show them that their creative work is respected and a VALUED asset – a vital component to the local economy.

More about LISA M. BERMAN:

Lisa M. Berman is an international ART Advocate, Wearable Art expert, curator and consultant with expertise in the fields of Jewelry, fashion, design, sculpture and public art. Her professional acumen extends to major markets, museums and corporations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Asia and Europe and collaborated with twelve countries and local Consul Generals to host /curate cultural exchange exhibitions. As Founder of Berman Arts Agency, Lisa leads a team of award-winning professionals, ranging from artist representation, career management, corporate acquisition, sponsorship advisement, museum placement (Getty, LACMA, Smithsonian, MOMA, etc.) for public/private collections, strategic alliances, exhibition curation, sales and educational services. Berman collaborates with Architects and builders to enhance communities through public art experiences. Her Agency provides ART services exceeding the expectations of her discerning clientele, to curate collections as unique as each collector.

Lisa has served on the Board of Governors for OTIS College of Art and Design, Public Relations Chair for the Fashion Council at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum Collections Board at Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM)and was appointed to the Advisory Board of Pulitzer Prize Photographer Renee C. Byer’s non-profit, Positive Change Can Happen. She volunteers for projects supporting, Art, children and STEAM, produces documentary films. In 2019 Berman collaborated with ARTPRIZE 2017 Winner Daniel Oropeza to launch the 5 acre OROPEZA Sculpture Garden at the NURSERY by Southwinds in Irvine, Ca. which featured 4 other sculptors

Ms. Berman holds degrees in Plastics Technology from California State University Long Beach, Product & Jewelry Design from Otis College of Art and Design and Merchandising / Marketing from FIDM. She designs jewelry for her brand Statements Accessories, styles celebrities for the red carpet under “Go-To Style Diva”. From a family of celebrated inventors and designers, Lisa is inquisitive and resourceful by nature, often creating spectacular things from what’s at hand -she can solder and weld, but doesn’t bake. She is an inspired mother to her teenage daughter Chiara.

True to her title, “Visionary Proprietor”, her iconic Sculpture To Wear Gallery was instrumental in launching the studio jewelry movement in the United States in 1973. Since 1999, Berman has been the owner of the celebrated brand offering an eclectic array of art, jewelry and unique objects to discerning collectors, media, producers and institutions which have been featured in film, television and Int’l publications. A lecturer for F.I.T’s Jewelry Symposium, SNAG Conference, Sr. Contributor to global U.S. Lifestyle Group, LocalArts, and OVERJEWELS publications for ART, STYLE and CULTURE, Berman was appointed the first U.S. Brand Ambassador ARTISTAR JEWELS. A trailblazer, her mission is to create a legacy of people inspired by and WEARING ART. Recently appointed as Curator of the Galleries and Sculpture Garden at the Muckenthaler Cultural Center & Museum in Fullerton, Ca., she also launched an NFT company called, The Bonnieverse with photographer Bonnie Schiffman and the founders of ReplayAR, and is a Curatorial Consultant for the photograpghy 6M Project. or  (310) 403-0531