LOS ANGELES—Visitors came to smell the ‘nosebushes’ this summer and enjoy other conceptional artworks at Parker Gallery’s multi-disciplinary Nut Art exhibition (May 28 – August 5, 2017). The group exhibition included ebullient new works alongside original pieces from Clayton Bailey‘s 1972 exhibition, such as former cartoonist Robert Arneson‘s severed head cookie jar and Bailey’s submerged swimmers, some of which had not been publicly exhibited since.
Despite its breadth, the show manages to come off as a unified thought. Each of the gallery’s separate spaces vibrate with common purpose, of big bangs and primordial ooze.
Nut Art is a movement founded in Northern California that flourished primarily in the late 60s and early 70s. Hyperallergic writes, frustrated with being erroneously labeled Funk, the term was coined (you can read another origin story here) by artist Roy De Forest along with other practitioners Clayton Bailey, David Gilhooly, Maija Peeples-Bright (then Maija Zack, aka Maija Woof) in conversation with writer David Zack to describe an approach to art making which embraced humor and the phantasmic.
At the time, Journalists and art critics were especially fond of describing any difficult-to-categorize artist as “funky,” particularly if that artist resided in the Bay Area. A solution occurred to Bailey, De Forest, and Schlotzhauer: They could start a new art movement and, perhaps, reinvent the way others saw and communicated about their art.
A few Nut Art exhibitions shortly followed, including one organized by 1972 exhibiton at California State University Hayward. For that exhibition’s staple-bound catalog, De Forest included an exegeses of the new movement, the so-called Nut Art manifesto:
THE WORK OF A PECULIAR AND ECCENTRIC NUT CAN TRULY BE CALLED “NUT ART” … THE NUT ARTIFICER TRAVELS IN A PHANTASMAGORIC MICRO-WORLD, SMALL AND EXTREMELY COMPACT, AS IS THE LIGHT OF A DWARF STAR IMPLODING INWARD AND IN PASSAGE COLLAPSING PARADISE AND HELL TO ONE AS IT VANISHES FOREVER WITH OUR JOYS, SORROWS AND UNREQUITED LOVE.
Artists featured include Robert Arneson, Betty Bailey, Clayton Bailey, Roy De Forest, David Gilhooly, Hannah Greely, Calvin Marcus, Maija Peeples-Bright, Benjamin Reiss, Peter Saul, Sally Saul, Harold Schlotzhauer, Richard Shaw, Irvin Tepper, Chris Unterseher and Franklin Williams.
Do you love or loathe these works of contemporary ceramic art and contemporary ceramics? Share your thoughts in the comments.