Working in a variety of media, Tony May’s art has often taken the form of site-responsive installations and has a strong leaning toward the conceptual, the quasi-functional and the whimsical. He believes in the importance of craftsmanship and the hands-on involvement of the artist. Projects such as the building of the idiosyncratic structure “T. House” and subsequent production of a series of photo-realist paintings documenting selected aspects of that construction process, reveal much about his belief in the importance of work itself as well as in the reflection upon it. An earlier series of documentary paintings was entitled, “Home Improvements.”
His art has been shown widely in California including shows at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco Art Institute, 80 Langton Street, Capp Street Project, San Jose Museum of Art, and the deSaisset Museum. In 2010-11 a 40+year retrospective of his work entitled, “Tony May/Old Technology” was installed at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA.) He has also exhibited in other parts of the United States, England, France, Japan and Thailand. In 1998 he completed a major public commission for the city of San Jose, which commemorates Agriculture in the Santa Clara Valley.
Tony May, Emeritus Professor of Art, taught at San Jose State University from1967 until 2005. He also taught for one year at the University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan, for one term at Sheffield City Polytechnic in Sheffield, England and for one quarter at Santa Clara University in Santa Clara California. Born in Mineral Point, WI in 1942, he received his MFA degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he studied with Warrington Colescott, Steven French and Don Reitz. He has taught in both the Pictorial and Spatial Arts areas. Courses have included Color Theory, Drawing, 2 and 3 Dimensional Design, Painting, Sculpture, a variety of Graduate Seminars and a class focusing on group art activity, “Art in Community.” In Spring 2004, the Art In Community Class designed and completed installation of a public art project commissioned by the City of San Jose. The work is located in Bestor Street Art Park on South 5th Street adjacent to the School of Art and Design Foundry. It was dedicated, along with the park in fall 2004. More recently, he and a different group of SJSU students completed a monumental-scale memorial artwork for another City of San Jose park. The piece, entitled El Paraguas del Padre Mateo, was dedicated in September 2008.