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".
Secret Life of Frogs
West Coast Funk