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“Tony Natsoulas: A Face in the Crowd:” A Documentary Screening

  • Museum of Northern California Art 900 Esplanade Chico, CA, 95926 United States (map)


While many artists hold down other jobs to make financial ends meet, Sacramento ceramic sculptor Tony Natsoulas has been an artist, and only an artist, for his entire professional career.

That’s what enticed Sacramento music composer Ben Fargen to make a documentary about Natsoulas’s life called “Tony Natsoulas: A Face in the Crowd.”

“Tony’s story is pretty uncommon among local northern CA artists,” Fargen says.

“He’s one of the few individuals I’ve known that regardless of finances or other situations, has had such reach and success.”

Fargen, 45, has scored music for Discovery Science, Forensic Files and Duck Dynasty through his company Pulp Audio Design. This is his first documentary and his first film.

Fargen began work on the documentary a year ago. He filmed, directed, edited and scored it. It starts with Natsoulas’s early life in Davis to the present.

From the time Natsoulas, 57, received an MFA in 1984 from UC-Davis, there has never been a gap in his work as a ceramic sculptor. “I’ve never been anything but an artist,” Natsoulas says. “That is what I am.”

Most influenced by one of his UC-Davis professors, Robert Arneson, their style is best described as camp, sometimes confrontational. It is often humorous and always colorful.

As filmmaker, Fargen knew he had a subject worth exploring.

Natsoulas’s work has been shown all over the world. In 2006, he was invited to the Shigaraki Museum of Ceramic Art in Japan as artist-in-residence and lecturer; several of his pieces remain in its permanent collection. His work has appeared at Stanford University, the Oakland Museum, and Sacramento’s Crocker Museum, among others. His pieces appear all over the country in places of business, such at Stuart Weitzman in New York and Mering and Associates in Sacramento. His four life-sized sculptures of The Beatles remain on exhibit (and for sale) at Alpha Fired Arts in Sacramento.

Locally, Natsoulas’s unmistakable style can be seen at Bing Maloney Golf Course, Tahoe-Tallac Little League Park, and Granite Park. One large, gravity-defying sculpture of a teetering man balancing too many objects – a metaphor for modern life called “Balancing Act” – was recently moved its former location where Golden1 Center now stands to a space on Freeport Avenue near Sacramento City College.

Privately, patrons across the country have installed Natsoulas’s work in their homes and yards. Fargen’s film  includes interviews with Sacramento art patron Marcy Friedman and Russ Solomon, founder of Tower Records, both Natsoulas collectors.

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