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David Gilhooly
Exhibition Review

David Gilhooly's exhibition (jointly with Roy De Forest's works on canvas and paper) "Frogs and Dogs" at Arizona State University Art Museum featured ceramic sculpture from the mid 60s to the mid 80's. You could call it a 'retrospective'. Early works include pieces that strikingly look like they were made of wood, metal or bone, such as the work 'Hardware Store Indian' or 'The Early American Hunter'. These works are indicative of the style Gilhooly was to develop in the mid seventies.

As you first enter the exhibition, you are greeted by a grinning, Acimboldo style self-portrait, made of various vegetable and food matter (ceramic of course). Further on, one notices that Gilhooly seems to have two main obsessions or fetishes: food and animals, and he combines these two beautifully in his sculptural work. In the animal kingdom, it's frogs (particularly green ones) and dogs, that dominate. In the food section it's hamburgers and other fast food products. In Gilhooly's world, green frogs end up in frying pans, hamburgers morph into 2 foot giants and may find themselves at the helm of Viking boats. While the frogs feature prominently in this world, so do dogs, which are represented with three life-size sculptures, 'Puppy with Ball', 'Max' and 'Fifi', all made in 1988 -- must have been a dog kind of year -- "...or at least a latter dog year, the last time I did dogs having started making them in the mid 60's -- my first was Roy's dog King. After that Roy began making dogs too." (Quote in italics).

Technically Gilhooly's work is excellent -- the surfaces range from realistic looking bread to sausages, eggs or cheese, all achieved with fabulous glazes and not, as one might think underglazes or china paints. This is the work of a glaze master. Quote: "All commercial glazes, especially Mayco and Reward glazes with a rare smattering of Duncans thrown in -- no underglazes and few china paints though I would use some UGs as stains under clear glazes for highlighting, sponging off the extra, leaving only the black in the cracks."

My favorite pieces are the boxed works '10lb Gilhooly Sampler', 'Gilhooly's Coffee Break Selections' and 'Gilhooly's Breakfast Variety Pack', all of 1989 (the year of the box?). These works are beautifully boxed collections of small sculptures ( about 1-1.5 inches) of 'ceramic confection', ceramic cups and beverages' and 'ceramic bowls of cereal'. They belong to a numbered limited edition of "portfolios" made in 1989. Quote:" ...all done in 1989 -- see the beautiful repro in the recent LACMA catalog-that's Los Angeles County Musueum of Art -- boxes were made and designed by Phillip Kuznicki of Oakland, California.......I also did, after the ten pound sampler, a five pound sampler and a 1 pound sampler."

Gilhooly gave up clay in 1995 to work on his "shadow boxes".

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