2618 O Street apartment lower east
Style: Pop Art
I saw a bumper sticker reading, "Ceramics worlds most fascinating hobby". I have made ceramic's my life long pursuit.
Bio / Resumee / Statement:
You’ve been working with ceramics for over twenty years now. Do you remember your first works? How did you evolved in time?...... Woodlawn Elementary School, near the Watts region of Los Angeles, had a kiln. My first encounter with clay was forced upon me. A large man, most likely a parent grabbed my 6 year old hand and smashed it into a slab of clay to form a hand-print. A week later the print magically appeared in the classroom, brightly glazed with a hole poked in the top for hanging, the man had glazed it for me! My mother loved that piece of clay; it was hung on the wall next to a photo of me on a pony, dressed as a cowboy. My first wall piece was a hit; it made the family wall of fame. By age 10, I was influenced by my famous neighbor, "Big Daddy Roth" and Rat Fink, Big Daddy's hot rod driving monster; my eyes were opened to the possibilities of object making. Roth was a big deal at the time; all my classmates drew Rat Finks on their book covers. I, however, knew Roth’s mother and could obtain his airbrushed T shirt seconds for 25 cents, I would resell them for a profit and earned a reputation as the art guy. I made a series of ceramic cat heads, trying to be different from my Rat Fink drawing classmates, working with the premise, cats eat rats. These works were not received well, most likely because they were inspired by a dead cat I had seen laying in the gutter. I think most of them were solid clay bombs that blew up during the bisque firing.
Why did you choose this career path? It was at Lutheran High School in Los Angeles where I decided to become a professional artist. I was in a high performance, over-achiever system, where I was surrounded by students who had finished their homework for the next three years, or taken extra classes in chemistry, or had help from their professor-parent in one subject or another. How could I compete with that? I liked the way oil paint smelled and the way clay felt. Art making seemed the obvious path, the art department was well staffed and over funded. The supplies at that school were amazing. Gallon buckets of oil paint, with every imaginable color available. The main emphasis was ceramic figurative sculpture, with “The Crucifix” being the prevailing theme. With my anti-Disney, Big Daddy Roth upbringing, I had different ideas and was not interested in the movement.
I rode the city bus to the high school through post” Watt’s Riots” Los Angeles. This ride inspired a series of foot tall ceramic sculptures of trash cans filled to the brim with ceramic garbage. They were slab built then colored with gray and brown low fire glazes. The school staff disliked the work, referring to it as depressing, but loved the watercolors of lighthouses I was working on. I eased away from ceramic work and focused on painting, usually hiding a trash can somewhere in the composition.
When did you realize that ceramic art was important for you?....... I became a Northern California artist when he moved from Los Angeles to the Mother Lode. While at several local colleges; starting out at Sierra College in Rocklin, I was the painter that hung around the ceramic department, this continued at California State University in Sacramento. I made more cats and cat heads but was more interested in painting on clay. I made a series of plates with a “It’s a dog eat dog world” theme which were formed from press molds, then painted with under glazes. The bisque was drawn on with glaze pencils, brightly glazed with brush and airbrush, then low fired. Lusters and china paint would be applied for one last firing. This process allowed a depth of field I could not replicate with paint on canvas. I realized by painting with glazes on plates I was object making again. Even though I was merely painting on plates, the finished work was a step for me into the 3 dimensional.
By the late 70’s, I was selling colorful plates and watercolors at the Candy Store in Folsom CA with the regions famous Funk artists, Robert Arneson, Roy DeForest, David Gilhooly, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt , Maija Peeples-Bright and Peter Vandenberge. I was a founding artist at the Stucco Factory in Sacramento during the 1980’s, producing paintings, etchings, videos, animations and a large body of of small ceramics.
What was the starting point in your investigation with ceramics Do you remember your early works?........ I acquired my first kiln a well-used 120 volt electric in 1980. I think you call it a test kiln; it had a low, medium, high dial, a very simple little thing with a peep hole but no kiln sitter. Having to guess what temperature it was by color, I would call, Fred Gorden or Peter Vandenberge and try to describe the orange shade, we would decide if it was 06 or not. I fired the heck out of that thing, never really thinking of myself as a ceramicist, I was just making little gifts, bowls with Folsom Lake Monsters on them for friends to put change or guitar picks in or small cats and dogs for people to put on their TV sets. I would always have them around the studio for birthdays or Christmas. This is how I stumbled on my attitude about art making as gift making.
In 1982, I moved into my studio at an abandoned stucco factory in Midtown Sacramento, but there was a rat problem. I was taking over the rat’s home. I guess it wasn’t exactly scientific, but I reasoned with them by sculpting rat effigies, then shooting the wet clay with my plump up pellet rifle. The pellets tore thru the clay and left an incredible gaping exit hole. My friends and I would have contests, shooting heads off, little feet and tails everywhere. I left the clay rat mess around for a couple of weeks. I’m not sure it was the shootout, but the rats left the block. I wish I had fired the series, but I was busy painting for a show at the Fido Art Gallery.
I was making large Narrative Expressionistic oils in the early 90’s; a collector from Germany was buying most of them. When the collector saw some of my experimental ceramics he requested a clay dog, the one that was prominent in the oil painting, The Upper Room. I was getting the request thru an art dealer, so couldn’t really understand what he wanted. I made 7 or 8 clay dogs and he rejected all of them. The dealer sold the ceramic dogs to other clients, but the German collector had a vision. Finally, after a year of miscommunication we spoke face to face. The collector, Jim, was from California and lived in Germany working as a FedEx pilot. He showed up with photos of the oils he had bought and ask me to sculpt each of the figures, dogs, cats and all, in the narratives.
This was a challenge and I was willing to dive into head first! I idea of sculpting from a painting involved imagining what the back and side of a painted image would look like. This kindled a new fire within my creative spirit, I was thinking in 3D. I felt a new sense of freedom because it seemed like all the great painters in history were not looking over my shoulder as I worked; I could do whatever I wanted with clay.
I continued the process of painting, then sculpting for a couple of years. I would show the oils and ceramics together, but the demand and interest was for the ceramics. So for the past 20 years I focus mainly on ceramics. By using colorful slips and glazes I can still satisfy my painterly instincts and convey the joy I have for life. Honestly, I simply find ceramics fun and hope it shows in the work.
Where do you get your inspiration from and what motivates you? I have lived with my wife Kim, two cattle dogs and two cats, in a condo on the mysterious American River Parkway for the past 10 years. I call it mysterious because the area is full of wildlife even though it runs through the City of Sacramento (How can that be?). Every morning and evening we walk the dogs and encounter the nature, deer, coyotes, ducks, geese, otters, and pacific salmon, but the list goes on, not to forget the landscape. Art history is full of references of artists being influenced by nature and here I am, living with an incredible resource out my back door. I consider myself extremely fortunate.
Where do you see yourself now? Tell us about your future plans. What are you currently working on?....... Tell us about your future goals. One recurring theme for the last year or so has been dog houses. Dreams of Milkbone Fiend, for instance shows a sleeping pup with his dreams popping out of and illustrated on his house. When dogs sleep their feet kick around like they are trying to chase something, but they could be running from something. I tried to set up a situation for the viewer to complete the narrative.
Currently, I am planning a series of wall pieces for a show at The Coffee Works Gallery in Sacramento. I have been painting large oils, in preparation for show. One painting, Unknown, is currently showing February 29th – April 26, 2012 3rd Annual Art of Painting in the 21st Century Conference 2012 at The John Natsoulas Gallery in Davis, California.
Born: 1953, Los Angeles, CA
1982 M.A., California State University, Sacramento, CA
1979 B.A., California State University, Sacramento, CA
1975-77 Sacramento City College, Sacramento, CA
1972-74 A.A. Sierra College, Rocklin, CA
2011 Curious Incidents Revealed (Almost Lifelike), Sacramento Temporary Contemporary,
North South, Archival Gallery, Sacramento CA
2010 Kiln Treats, Solomon Dubnick Gallery, Sacramento CA
2009 Wish You Were Here, Solomon Dubnick Gallery, Sacramento, CA
2008 Clay Art, Iota, Dallas, Texas
2007 New Ceramics, Creekside, Scottsdale, AZ
2006 A Special Exhibition, Trinity Lutheran Church Gym with Solomon Dubnick Gallery, Sacramento
Small Treasures, A Four Day Event at Mike and Louise Solomon’s home, Solomon Dubnick Gallery artists, Sacramento, CA
Menagerie: Artists Look at Animals, The Museum of Craft and Folk Art, San Francisco, New Dogs, Creekside, Scottsdale, AZ
2005 New Works, Solomon Dubnick Gallery, Sacramento, CA
2003 A Box of Biscuits, A Box of Mixed Biscuits, and a Biscuit Mixer, Solomon Dubnick Gallery,
2002 Recent Works, Solomon Dubnick Gallery, Sacramento, CA
2000 Flippin Disorder, American River College Art Gallery, Sacramento, CA
1999 A Dog’s Life, Solomon Dubnick Gallery, Sacramento, CA
1998 New Work, Solomon Dubnick Gallery, Sacramento, CA
1995 Selected Works on Paper, Dean Moniz Gallery, Sacramento, CA
1993 Recent Work, Dean Moniz Gallery, Sacramento, CA
1992 Selected Paintings: 1982-1992, Jennifer Pauls Gallery, Sacramento, CA
1991 Paintings, Jennifer Pauls Gallery, Sacramento, CA
1989 Painted Figures, Michael Himovitz Gallery, Sacramento, CA
1987 Introductions, Gregory Ghent Gallery, San Francisco, CA
Multimedia, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Rental Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1986 New Work, Himovitz/Salomon Gallery, Sacramento, CA
1985 Paintings, Himovitz/Salomon Gallery, Sacramento, CA
1983 Dinnen's Dog Gone Good Paintings, Fido Gallery, Sacramento, CA
1981 Candy Store, Folsom, CA
1979 The Different Drum Gallery, Newcastle, CA
1978 Watercolors and Mixed Media, Greg Kondos Gallery, Sacramento City College, Sacramento, CA
1975 Artist Contemporary Gallery, Sacramento, CA
1974 Sierra College Gallery, Rocklin, CA
1972 3 Sons Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Selected Group Expeditions:
2012 Art of Painting, John Natsoulas Gallery, Davis, CA
Let the Fur Fly, Epperson Gallery, Crocket, CA
2011 30 Ceramic Sculptures, John Natsoulas Gallery, Davis, CA
Bark, John Natsoulas Gallery, Davis, CA
Marking the Territory, Pence Gallery, Davis, CA
2010 Crocker Art Auction, Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA
11th Annual Dog & Cat Show includes a Horse, Pamela Skinner / Gwenna Howard, Contemporary Art, Sacramento, CA
Alumni Show, Gregory Kondos Gallery, Sacramento City College, Sacramento, CA
Birdhouses, Gregory Kondos Gallery, Sacramento City College, Sacramento, CA
Family Reunion Group Show, Solomon Dubnick Gallery, Sacramento, CA
Gone Fishin…The Temporary Contemporary and Archival Framing Present, Sacramento, CA
2009 1020 An Exhibition Honoring the Michael Himovitz Gallery, Sacramento, CA
2007 Curtain Time, Solomon Dubnick Gallery, Sacramento, CA
2005 Tiger in the House, Virginia Breier, San Francisco, CA
Flowering Vessels, Tierra Solida, Santa Barbara, CA
2004 Small Treasures, Solomon Dubnick Gallery, Sacramento, CA
2003 A Feast for the Eyes, Solomon Dubnick Gallery, Sacramento, CA
2002 Face to Face, Lincoln Arts Center, Lincoln, CA
The Artists Coloring Book for those who Aren’t, Solomon Dubnick Gallery, Sacramento,
Cigar Boxes, Center for Contemporary Art, Sacramento, CA
Trout Fishing in America, Solomon Dubnick Gallery, Sacramento, CA
A Horse is a Horse, Solomon Dubnick Gallery, Sacramento, CA
Mardi Gras Masque Parade, Solomon Dubnick Gallery, Sacramento, CA
2001 10 Anniversary Celebration, Looking Beyond, Solomon Dubnick Gallery, Sacramento, CA
Drawn to the Figure, Solomon Dubnick Gallery, Sacramento, CA
A Modern Tea Party, Solomon Dubnick Gallery, Sacramento, CA
Humor from the Flatlands, Shepperd Gallery, University of Reno, NV
Humor from the Flatlands, Center for Contemporary Art, Sacramento, CA
A Show of Hands, Lincoln Art Center, Lincoln, CA
Unexpected Treasures, Mill Valley Sculpture Garden, Mill Valley, CA
Group Show, Virginia Breier Gallery, San Francisco, CA
Group Show, Creekside Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ
Group Show, Creekside Gallery, Park City, UT
2000 Form by Fire, Solomon Dubnick Gallery, Sacramento, CA
Teapots, San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, CA
Bow Wow! It’s A Dog’s Life, Bedford Gallery, Walnut Creek, CA
1999 Big Kids Toy Box III, Solomon Dubnick Gallery, Sacramento, CA
Contemporary Crafts, One Bush Street, San Francisco, CA
Clay Clay Clay, Solomon Dubnick Gallery, Sacramento, CA
Grand Opening, Creekside Gallery, Park City, UT
Tempest, An Invitational Exhibit, Lincoln Arts Gallery, Lincoln, CA
Abundant Treasures, Center for Contemporary Art Gallery, Sacramento, CA
BACA Annual Members’ Showcase, Berkeley Art Center, Berkeley, CA
1998 Self Expression: Invitational All Media Self Portrait Show, Solomon Dubnick Gallery, Sacramento,
Big Kids Toy Box II, Solomon Dubnick Gallery, Sacramento, CA
Feats Of Clay No. 11, Gladding McBean, Lincoln, CA
1997 50 Years of Excellence: 50th Anniversary CSU Sacramento Alumni & Faculty Artists,
Solomon Dubnick Gallery, Sacramento, CA
Big Kids Toy Box, Solomon Dubnick Gallery, Sacramento, CA
Self Expression 1997: Invitational All Media Self Portrait Show, Solomon Dubnick Gallery, Sacramento, Ca
Figure and Funk, Solomon Dubnick Gallery artists at Encina Art Gallery, Sacramento, CA
1996 Ceramics in Northern California, Bedford Gallery, Walnut Creek, CA
Gary Dinnen, Jay Welden, Tony Natsoulas, Fine Arts Gallery, Marysville, CA
Humor in Clay, 30 Ceramic Sculptures by 14 California Artists, Iguana Gallery, San Francisco,
The Abstract Surface/The Illusion, Sierra College Library Gallery, Rocklin, CA
Tribute to the San Francisco Art Institute, 125 Years, Tiffany and Co., San Francisco, CA
Sacramento Municipal Utility District Grand Opening, SMUD, Sacramento, CA
Artists Contemporary Gallery, Sacramento Capital Club, Sacramento, CA
International Fax Invitational, Memphis College of Art, Memphis, TENN
Works in Clay, Art Effects Gallery, Woodland, CA
1995 Virginia Breier Gallery, San Francisco, CA
A Survey from the Dean Moniz Gallery, Encina Art Gallery, Sacramento, CA
If the Show Fits: An Artistic View of Footwear, Davis Art Center, Davis, CA
Saw Blade Art Fest'95, Sawblade Tavern, Phillipsville, CA
1994 Paint a Plate, William Glenn, Sacramento, CA
Inside/Outside, University Union Gallery, California State University, Sacramento, CA
Alumni Show, University Union Gallery, California State University, Sacramento, CA
Hauptstadt Sacramento/Capitol Berlin, Gallery SoToDo, Berlin, Germany
Hauptstadt Sacramento/Capitol Berlin, Gallery SoToDo, Sacramento, CA
4 Painters (Dinnen, Erin Goodwin-Guerrero, Jack Ogden, Patrick Siler), Dean Moniz Gallery,
Constructions and Mixed Media Sculptures, Dean Moniz Gallery, Sacramento, CA
Artists' Valentine, Richard L. Nelson Gallery, University of California at Davis, Davis, CA
1993 Works on Paper: Gallery Artists and Invited Guest Artist, Dean Moniz Gallery, Sacramento, CA
1992 Jennifer Paul Gallery, Sacramento, CA
1991 Jennifer Paul Gallery, Sacramento, CA
Pence Gallery Art Auction, Davis, CA
1990 California Eccentrics, Illini Union Art Gallery, Urbana, IL
1988 Letters to Chicago, ARC Gallery, Chicago, IL
1987 Eccentric Imagery, traveled to Caroline Corre Gallery, Paris, France; Ek'ymose Art Contemporain, Bordeaux, France; and the Centre D'Action Culturelle De St.-Brieuc, France
Psychedelic Art Today, Gregory Ghent Gallery, San Francisco, CA
Contemporary Illuminations, Himovitz/Jenson Gallery, Sacramento, CA
1986 Art Bridge, City Gallery, Kobe, Japan (catalog)
Eccentric Imagery, Berkeley Art Center, Berkeley, CA
1985 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Rental Gallery, San Francisco, CA
Sacramento Valley Painting and Sculpture, Creative Growth Gallery, Oakland, CA
1983 The Eight Ate, Else Gallery, California State University, Sacramento, CA
1982 Some Local Color from the Flatlands, Reno University, Reno, NV
1981 Lodi Arts Festival, Lodi, CA
1980 Anti/Anti Art Invitational, White Gallery, Sacramento, CA
1977 9 from CSUS, Woodland Community Art Center, Woodland, CA
1976 Art Works Gallery, Fair Oaks, CA
1974 Steve Vanoni, Arthur Gonzales, Gary Dinnen, Barrios Gallery, Sacramento, CA
1987 Festival Internazionale Cinema Giovani, Turin, Italy
Image and Sound Festival, Film Foundation of The Hague, The Hague, Holland
1986 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Rental Gallery, San Francisco, CA
2009 KVIE Art Auction 2009, Home is where the art is. 1st Place Sculpture – Here No See No Speak No Evil
1998 Feats of Clay No. 11, Gladding McBean, Lincoln, CA - 3rd Place
1987 American Film Institute-Visions of the USA, Head Bonk, the Exploratorium, San Francisco, CA
1981 Lodi Art Festival, Lodi, CA - 1st Place
30 Ceramic Sculptors, © 2011 by John Natsoulas Press, p. 28 & 29, “Surpassing Understanding”
500 Animals in Clay: Contemporary Expressions of the Animal Form, Lark Books 2006
Art in Residence: West Coast Artists in their Space, Kurt Fishback, 2001
Joo-hye Park, Nouvel Objet III, p. 58 & 59 illustrated; published by Design House, Seoul, Korea
Haupstadt/Sacramento Exhibition Catalog, Gallery SoToDo, Sacramento, CA. 1995
Victoria Dalkey, Topsyturvy World, Sacramento Bee, Encore section, February 26, 1995,p.7.
Victoria Dalkey, Gary Dinnen: Selected Paintings 1982-1992 Sacramento Bee, Encore Section, June 14,
Victoria Dalkey. Complementary Colors, Sacramento Bee, Encore section, June 9, 1991, p.6 (photo).
Janet Dixon. A Unique Partnership: Public Television and Visual Artist, On the Wing, May 1990, p.3.
Victoria Dalkey. Gary Dinnen, Sacramento Bee, Encore Section, Jan.15, 1989, p.3 (photo).
Hilary Abramson. Art on the Edge, Avant-Garde Artists, The Sacramento Bee Magazine, June 28,1987,
p. 12 (cover photo).
Victoria Dalkey. Carrying on the Struggle, the Current Expressionists, Sacramento Bee, Encore section,
September 21,1986, p.21 (photo).
Nakajima Tokuhiro, Curator of Hyogo Prefectual. Art Bridge Exhibition Catalog, Museum of Modern Art,
Kobe, Japan, Oct. 1986.
Andree Mare'chal-Workman, Canseratice. Eccentric Imagery Exhibition Catalog, Berkeley Art Center,1986