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SVMA goes ‘Out of Our Minds’ over ceramics

Two of the Bay Area’s major names in ceramic arts are coming to the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art as part of its first exhibition in the new year, “Out of Our Minds: Clayton Bailey & Tony Natsoulas.”

The museum’s showcase of Clayton Bailey and Tony Natsoulas’s work runs Jan. 15 to April 24.

Satire, humor and irreverence are hallmarks of both Bailey and Natsoulas’ art, museum officials said in an announcement of the show. Their work is part of a tradition of California figurative art, born out of California pop art and often referred to as “funk art.”

“Funk’s unrefined, irreverent, unorthodox, conceptual aesthetic and sometimes pointed critique reveals its Dada lineage and homegrown California assemblage tradition,” according to the announcement. Bailey is considered an originator of California funk art, and Natsoulas’ work descends from the movement.

The exhibition is the first museum retrospective honoring the work of Bailey since he passed away in 2020. The show also features a significant number of Bailey’s robot sculptures, created from discarded bicycle and automobile parts, kitchen appliances and other scrap metal parts. As Bailey once said, “The ‘past lives’ of the robot's various ‘mechanical molecules’ are said to give them their soul.” Also included are important abstract and fantastical figurative ceramics, some hailing from the artist's legendary “Wonders of the World Museum.”

Natsoulas will be on hand to discuss his and Bailey’s works at events on Jan. 22 and March 5.

SVMA Executive Director Linda Keaton said she is excited to bring the work of Bailey and Natouslas to Sonoma. “Clayton was a leader in the funk art movement, and Tony's work derives from the movement,” Keaton said in the announcement. “Funk art's irreverent, unorthodox style will be a treat for our audiences, and reminds us not to take art, and ourselves, too seriously.”

An opening reception for the exhibit takes place Feb. 26 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the museum, at 551 Broadway. The reception is free for SVMA members and $10 for the general public. Pre-registration and masks are required for this event. Register at svma.org/exhibitions.

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