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BARK! A Tribute to Roy De Forest and Man’s Best Friend

By Katrine Razinak | February 28, 2020

Dog House, Roy de Forest 1970. Colored Pencil on Paper, 30″ x 32″

This month, the John Natsoulas Center for the Arts will once again be celebrating the beloved canine companion with the group show Bark! An Artistic View of the Human’s Best Friend—in tribute to the late Roy De Forest, a UC Davis faculty member of 27 years who, with fellow faculty William T. Wiley and Robert Arneson, became a major participant in the ‘60s “Funk” art movement. 

De Forest often referred to art as “one of the last strongholds of magic.” He is known to have used dogs as staple figures for creating a window into his brightly hued, imaginative world. 

The artist’s love of dogs dates to a very early age. Growing up in Yakima, Wasington, he had several dogs in succession—each of whom he named Hector. John Natsoulas, the owner of the gallery and a long-time friend of De Forest’s, recalls the fondness he expressed while travelling down to San Luis Obispo for a weekend: “the entire time Roy talked about his dogs. He seemed to talk to them as if they were human.” Through De Forest’s canine collaborators he “was absolutely involved in this narrative of making up this mythology about dogs.” 

Come and build your own imaginary world amongst the hounds at Bark!, where the love for man’s best friend shines through the many artistic mediums—from paint to sculpture—of De Forest’s and over 40 other national artists’ works on display. The show features artists: Esther Shimazu, Jeffrey Downing, Adam Forfang, Carmen Lang, Boyd Gavin, Avery Palmer, Kevin Snipes, Guston Abright, Robert Ransom, James Weeks, and many more.


Bark! will be on display through February 29, 2020. The Gallery is open Wed-Sun, and late on Friday nights.