Ceramic Sculpture Illustrates Robert Arneson's Legacy

"Fired at Davis: Figurative Ceramic Sculpture by Robert Arneson, Visiting Professors, and Students at the University of California at Davis, from the Paula and Ross Turk Collection"

October 12, 2005–February 26, 2006,

Stanford, California—In an exhibition of ceramic art ranging from “funk” to super-realism to post-modernism, the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University explores the legacy of Robert Arneson. The exhibition, entitled Fired at Davis: Figurative Ceramic Sculpture by Robert Arneson, Visiting Professors, and Students at the University of California at Davis, from the Paula and Ross Turk Collection, will be on view October 12, 2005 to February 26, 2006.

In the early 1960s, Robert Arneson began his tenure as a professor of design and ceramics in a modest temporary building known as TB-9, on the campus of the University of California, Davis. By the time of his death in 1992, Arneson, visiting professors, and students had developed a ceramics program of national prestige. Living and working in the supportive and iconoclastic environment of TB-9, exchanges between faculty and students flourished with Arneson as manager, ringleader, and “old man in shoe,” according to one critic.

This exhibition explores Arneson’s contributions and legacy through an examination of his work and that of visiting professors and students at UC Davis. Many of the students, such as Peter VandenBerge, David Gilhooly, and Richard Shaw, as well as visiting professors such as Howard Kottler and Marilyn Levine, have enjoyed careers as prominent figurative ceramic sculptors. The offbeat, irreverent, self-referential approach employed by Arneson was shared by many of his peers and students who explored narrative and historical subjects as well as objects from daily life in their imagery.

The works in Fired at Davis come from Paula and Ross Turk, who have been collecting ceramics for over 25 years. This selection was chosen from the Turks’ comprehensive collection that includes more than 150 ceramic sculptures and works on paper with a focus on California and particularly Bay Area artists. Featuring some 40 works, Fired at Davis offers ceramics by 19 artists produced over more than four decades. The objects run the stylistic gamut from the “funk” style of Arneson in the 1960s, to the trompe l’oeil super-realism of Marilyn Levine and Richard Shaw in the 1970s, to the 1990s post-modernism of Kathy Butterly (one of Arneson’s last pupils, whose work was recently featured in the Carnegie International). The works “objectify” major American art trends and illustrate the unique contributions that UC Davis faculty and students have made to the recent history of American sculpture.

A fully illustrated color catalogue accompanies the exhibition. Hilarie Faberman, the Cantor Arts Center Halperin curator of modern and contemporary art who organized Fired at Davis, interviewed the lenders and wrote the essay about the artists of TB-9 for the catalogue. The exhibition, catalogue, and related programs are made possible by the Contemporary Collectors Circle, an anonymous donor, and the Cowles Charitable Trust.

Associated programs include lectures and demonstrations by some of the artists included in the show, details to be announced. A hands-on ceramics class for children will also be offered. A complementary exhibition entitled "Food, Frogs, Fido: Works on Paper by David Gilhooly" opens in a nearby gallery on August 10 and runs through November 27, 2005.