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Larger Than Life: The Artwork of Tony Natsoulas at Sanchez Art Center

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Friday, June 9, 2023 - 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm | Cost: FREE
Sanchez Art Center | 1220 Linda Mar Blvd, Pacifica, CA

Event Details

Larger Than Life: The Artwork of Tony Natsoulas, at Sanchez Art Center

Larger Than Life: The Artwork of Tony Natsoulas, features large scale figurative ceramic sculptures with a lighthearted humorous touch, curated by Phil Linhares. Opening concurrently are Resilience, adapting to challenging events, a group show featuring the artwork of 30 SF Bay Area artists, acting as ambassadors on the theme by applying their artistic talent to broaden people’s perceptions and ability to develop resilience personally, as well as for the greater good for humanity and the earth, plus members of the Art Guild of Pacifica’s group show, Sea & Forest. All three new exhibitions will open with a reception in the galleries on Friday, June 9, from 7 to 9 pm, with live music by Mojazz Trio.

Tony Natsoulas was five or six years of age when his father began teaching psychology at UC Davis and the family moved to the university town. From an early age he was exposed to art during family trips to New York that included visits to major cultural institutions. It was a more local museum trip though where he first saw a piece by David Gilhooly (a ceramic casserole dish topped with a frog goddess of fertility) that grabbed his interest. Taking a mixed media art class the summer after fifth grade, he was first exposed to working with clay, and he’s never stopped.

Exploring what to do after high school graduation, a neighbor and art teacher suggested he visit Robert Arneson who was part of burgeoning art scene at UC Davis in TB 9. Artist Kelly Detweiler, an assistant to Arneson at the time, has a memory of Tony as a kid coming into the studio and “taking to clay like a fish to water, with a ton of ideas. He showed up with such exuberance, drive and a desire to make things”. This excitement for creating with clay hasn’t diminished.

Exhibition curator, Phil Linhares, describes Tony as a “creative human dynamo”. In his introduction to the show, Linhares notes that “working large scale in clay requires physical strength, endurance and a hyper-active imagination. Possessing these qualities, Natsoulas stands in line with iconic Bay Area artists Peter Voulkos, Viola Frey, and Robert Arneson”.

Natsoulas’ formal collegiate education began at Cal State Sacramento before moving to UC Davis where he earned his Bachelor of Arts. Together with time at the Maryland Institute College of Art and a summer study program at the Skowhegan School in Maine offered learning experiences with accomplished artists including Wayne Thiebaud, William T. Wiley, Manuel Neri, Roy de Forest, Mark di Suvero, Francesco Clemente and Judy Pfaff. Robert Arneson, Tony’s early teacher and graduate advisor, remained his mentor and guiding light. In 1985, Natsoulas earned his MFA from UC Davis. He was named by the Smithsonian as one of the top 100 craft artists in the United States in 2004.

Influenced by 1960’s-1970’s counter-culture artists such as Big Daddy Roth Rat Fink and Art Crum who were making funny grotesque comic works, Natsoulas fell in love with caricature. And yet, he has also taken inspiration from Meissen porcelain figures. Paradoxically, Natsoulas seamlessly pairs these potentially contradictory artistic moods into an exuberant piece of one of his favorite singers and musicians Annie Lennox. Commenting on the work, “I wanted to show not only her beauty but where she came from and what she believes in. I put her in a baroque dress and hairstyle because she always seems like royalty to me. The circle of neon represents the organization she started to further the rights and issues of girls and women around the world. I still listen to her music as I work, and while I made this portrait, I listened to her beautiful voice and nothing else.”

For additional insight into the artist and his work, come to the Artist/Curator Talk on closing Sunday, July 9 at 3:30 pm.

Considering the current social and environmental anxiety increasingly prevalent in these times, Sanchez Art Center staff developed an exhibition focused on artists creating visual stories about personal and climate resilience and this crucial skill for coping in the 21st century. The resulting exhibition “Resilience, adapting to challenging events” showing in the East Gallery presents the works of 29 Bay Area artists.
MGP Anderson’s oil on canvas, titled “Courage” depicts a woman walking through a wasteland followed by trouble, but her resilience is the strength to keep going forward as it’s the only way out. Working in mixed media, Joy Broom layers elements from the natural world and family history, dismantling and reassembling pieces from old photo albums and scrapbooks, putting together a new “safety net” in these uncertain times. In, Some of My Best Friends are Buddhists (oil on nested panel, Barbara Kibbe reflects on how bad things happen, but staying calm and recognizing that “everything changes” and “there is suffering” doesn’t need to take the fun out of life. Kibbe’s statement notes, “The painting is meant to show life throwing stuff at us from all directions – the kind of stuff Buddhists float on like the sea.” Commenting on her joyful work, Last Laugh (acrylic, tissue, paper, pencil,ink), Dobee Snowber shares how “Aging is all about resilience. The art of knowing that the only constant is change and it is really about how we respond. Laughter is resilience, possibly in its purest form.”

Sue Hammerland notes, “It’s easy to become overwhelmed when thinking about how we’re forever altering (if not destroying) the wondrous and beautiful natural world we live in. In my work, I’m looking to create visions of alternate worlds in which flora and fauna adapt and flourish (Against All Odds Tidepool), creatures meet to discuss human folly (Pangolin, Bat and Hornet Convene to Talk About Humans), and an extinct bird can survive in the desert and guard an egg (Dodo In the Desert).” “I Will Survive” (acrylic) was titled by ConReis as an homage to the famous Gloria Gaynor song as it defines the power of nature to prevail no matter what. A deer represents both the fragility and strength of the moment in the piece punctuated by the colors of fire and burnt trees and smoke. Yet there is light to represent hope.
The community is invited to attend a free gallery walk and engagement event focused on Resilience on Saturday, June 24, 2:00 pm.

The Art Guild of Pacifica is presenting a member group show in the West Gallery, Sea & Forest. Pieces include assemblage, ceramic sculpture, paintings in acrylic, oil and watercolor, fiber, mixed media and more, reflecting artist’s passion for nature and the inspiring environments that surrounds us. Artworks include Jan Michaels’ “Sea and Tree”, a mixed media with collage piece creates the textures of palms over a layered ocean. Sheila Finch’s “Wonderlich Path to the Meadows”, oil, depicts the light coming through the trees and dappling the ground of the path in one of our local San Mateo County Parks. Capturing both the sea and forest in a dramatic mountain-scape, Julie Stock created her piece “Redwoods, Fog and Pacific Ocean” in ceramics. A softly powerful oak tree is honored by G. Lee Boerger’s piece “One of Many”, mixed media. The Art Guild holds four themed exhibitions a year, plus an annual members’ show, and a holiday show and sale each December. Small works and cards are also available from the AGP Shop.

Sanchez Art Center is located at 1220 Linda Mar Blvd in Pacifica, about a mile east of Highway 1. Following opening night, the galleries are open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 1–5 pm, and by appointment, through July 9. The opening, talks, and gallery visits free as part of the center’s focus on “Creating Community through Art”. For more information call 650.355.1894 or visit SanchezArtCenter.org.

Disclaimer: Please double check event information with the event organizer as events can be canceled, details can change after they are added to our calendar, and errors do occur.

Cost: FREE
Categories: Art & Museums, In Person
Address: 1220 Linda Mar Blvd, Pacifica, CA