McManus, who had a heart condition, died Aug. 10 at his home in Seal Beach, said Mike Stice, a spokesman for Laguna College of Art and Design.
Known for his quirky mannerisms and encyclopedic knowledge of the history of art and regionalist movements, McManus was a popular faculty member at Laguna College of Art and Design (formerly the Art Institute of Southern California), where he taught classes on writing, aesthetics and art history.
After graduating in 1981 from UC San Diego with a master’s degree in critical theory and 19th- and 20th century art history, McManus began writing reviews for Art Week magazine, where he eventually became a contributing editor.
In fall 1987, the Laguna Art Museum hired McManus, by then regarded as a scholar specializing in Southern California art history, as its chief curator. McManus, at the time the third chief curator in less than four years, arrived during a transitional period