Ceramic Cars
Margaret Dodd in show Ceramic Cars by Margaret Dodd 1968
photo by Robert Ridley, curator

“I arrived at Davis California on July 4th 1965 after a year in New Haven Connecticut. I found the UC Davis sculpture department in Temporary Building 9 aka TB-9. After a few night classes I began a ceramic sculpture course with Robert Arneson, that led to making the Fake Funk Truck based on a Funk Truck made by Dennis Oppenheim in 1965. I had seen it somewhere, probably the Belmonte Gallery in Sacramento.

Fake Funk Truck
Fake Funk Truck

Oppenheim’s truck was a subversive piece, made of two blocks of wood, a combination of rough carpentry covered with dressmaking fabrics, representing a symbol of masculine power!

My version was a ceramic truck that appeared to be made of fabric, like a hand made stuffed toy that might be found on a fundraising stall for a good cause, along with the cakes and jam. I had intended to make more trucks but diverged to automobiles. Fabric didn’t reappear in my work till the 1970s.

-Flyer for Ceramics From Davis at MUSEUM WEST of the American Craftsmen’s Council in San Francisco.
Funk Ceramics

In October 1966 Bob Arneson and a group of his students including me, had a show called Ceramics From Davis at MUSEUM WEST of the American Craftsmen’s Council in San Francisco. This was the first group show of what was to be called Funk Ceramics. My pieces in the show were A VW Beetle, a 1950s Cadillac, a 50s Buick and an Oldsmobile, based on sketches and photos of cars I found in the streets, in magazines, and one, the VW, owned by fellow artist Gerry Walburg.

ceramic cars -1968
ceramic cars – 1968

This trend continued till I had my first one person show “Ceramic Cars by Margaret Dodd” in August 1968. Most of the photographs of my 1960s work were taken at this exhibition, held in the Memorial Union Gallery at UC Davis. “Funk ceramics” had soon made waves, and was featured in the Art pages of Time Magazine April 26 1968

“There were many inspirational artists, both students and teachers at TB-9. A group exhibition organized by Gerry Walburg at the Artists Contemporary Gallery (AGC) in Sacramento featured many of the Davis artists.”

Poster of Ceramics From Davis at MUSEUM WEST of the American Craftsmen’s Council in San Francisco.
Poster for SCULPTURE by Gerald Walburg at Artists Contemporary Gallery, Sacramento, California

Color Pot The Experience at Purdue

Davis artists’ work travelled to Indiana for this show. This was the first time my work had been seen outside California. Curator Bill Farrell taught ceramics at the Art Institute of Chicago for thirty five years.

David Gilhooly has described TB-9 and the times in the book, David Gilhooly, published by the John Natsoulas Press 1992 which contains a full account of the times.

In 1991 an exhibition Thirty Years of TB-9: A Tribute to Robert Arneson was held at John Natsoulas gallery. It was a reunion for artists who had worked and studied in TB9 during the past thirty years.

A book by the same title was published, featuring fifty nine artists who had worked in TB-9 during Robert Arneson’s thirty years there. I exhibited my 1970/80s film This woman is Not a Car. The book is a priceless resource for people interested in the legacy of Robert Arneson, and the humble shed that has nurtured generations of ceramic artists.

By the end of 1968 I was back in Adelaide, South Australia, in an outer suburb called Holden Hill that served as the inspiration for much of my work during the seventies.

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