Autobody Fine Art art exhibition | Consulting | Event Space
Rental Space
Who We Are
Mailing List
"Still Life"
A Celebration of the Art and the Life of Making Art of Tom Tuthill and Debbie Vinograd

August 6, 2011– October 17, 2011
Free Opening Reception: August 6, 2011/ 6-9 p.m.
Poetry Reading by Julia Vinograd and Jan Steckell: September 18, 2011 / 2 p.m.

Autobody Fine Art is proud to present "Still Life". This exhibition explores and details how an enduring relationship nurtures creativity and how the practice of making art can come to shape and define shared experience and love.

When Tom Tuthill passed away in 2009 he left behind literally thousands of similarly sized, intricately fabricated, collaged postcards. Ranging from nearly abstract, the torn jagged edges of pieces of paper defining areas of intense color, to works of dense symbology with a spattering of text, these artworks were carefully stored in photograph albums, ordered chronologically as the pieces were finished. Working only with a pair of scissors, in a tiny studio, Tom Tuthill

Debbie Vinograd painted before and throughout their lives together, and she continues to paint now that Tom is no longer beside her physically. Her work straddles many genres and she paints in series, each series as it closes yields the potential for the next body of work. Her output is diverse and enormous but it is united by a love of color and the absolute necessity that art have meaning and a vocabulary beyond language. Because of this, symbols and objects frequently repeat across genres, although Debbie is steadfast in her refusal to control how they operate. She paints friends often and painted Tom throughout their relationship, even as he was ailing, his portraits line her bedroom wall so that he continues to be a very real presence.

Their home is filled with Debbie's paintings, artworks leaning against other artworks, crowding the small apartment with color and the life they shared together. Tom's postcards are more ordered, placed neatly in folios and binders ready to be discovered and bursting with wit and vitality. I feel extremely priveliged to have been given access to their artwork and an insight into their lives and, because, this exhibition is about how art, love, friendship and lives can become so beautifully entwined, I asked one of their close friends Vivian Rogers to write a brief biography:

"After 36 years as friends and lovers Tom's humor is what Debbie misses the most. They met at the Med, the same coffee house where Dustin Hoffman watched for Katherine Ross in the Graduate. For Tom it was love at first sight, for Debbie, not so much. Debbie wanted to paint without distractions. Tom was smitten and clearly not a quitter. Two years later Tom Tuthill moved in with Debbie Vinograd.

There was cultural dissonance and at first there were fights, "huge fights". For a short time they broke up. Realizing that sharing a life making art was more interesting and beautiful than any of their petty differences they got back together for keeps. It helped that they kept pretty good company too.

Debbie's sister is the well-known Berkeley poet Julia Vinograd and through her the couple came to know poets and musicians throughout the Bay Area. Sharing inspirations, troubles and an abiding dedication to making art, their group of choice has lived a truly Bohemian existence.

Tom was born into a working class family and grew up in the Hudson Valley of New York State. His stories about tagging along with his Dad to pick up side work repairing refrigeration units in the area's dive bars are legend.

After earning his AA in art from Orange County Community College in Middletown New York, Tom worked in the rag trade in New York City. Pursuing his artistic ideas he switched from painting to collage as his favored medium. After a time, frustrated by his inability to get an art career going in New York, and likely influenced by Kerouac, Bukowiski and other writers, he caught the youthful wanderlust of the times. Kicking around the US for a few years he lived in Florida, Texas, New Orleans and Phoenix before finally settling in Berkeley in 1974. Although during this time and for the first years they were together, Tom was not making art, "he read constantly" and wrote: lots of poetry, stories and a couple of novels about his travel and counter cultural experiences.

Debbie was born into an upper middle class, academic family and grew up in Pasadena, California. Her father, Gerome (Jerry) Vinograd was a famous bio-chemist at Cal Tech. It is telling of the differences in their backgrounds that Tom's father passed away while enjoying himself drinking and smoking at a card game while Debbie's died from a heart attack en route to receive the Nobel Prize in Bio Chemistry.

After high school, Debbie got a house with her then boyfriend and attended UC Irvine, earning a BA in painting. She says she never learned how to paint from her teachers, who were focused on abstract styles. Rather, she taught herself to paint both from the work of the "great" painters and by learning to paint what she sees; people, strange and ever more intriguingly wonderful still life's, and bizarre dreamlike images that bubble up from some mysterious place and are revealed to her inner sight.

Even when Tom wasn't creating art, he was supportive of Debbie's need to spend all day painting. Over a ten year period, struggling to express his muse through writing and increasingly seeing himself as a "woe be gone genius", in 1982 Tom went back to art, making his grotesque, surreal, humorous, postcard sized collage poems to Satori from then on, without a break, until the end of his life.

Both Tom and Debbie have created an amazing and huge, mature body of work. Looking back Debbie says, "What we had together was nurturing for the art. Mostly what was important is that we hung together and worked".

Please join us in celebrating an extraordinary relationship and body of artwork. The opening reception for the artists will be on Saturday, August, 2011 from 6 p.m. 9 p.m. A second reception featuring a poetry reading by Julia Vinograd and Jan Steckell will be held on Sunday, September 18, 2011 from 2 p.m. 4 p.m. For more information and images, please contact Jacqueline Cooper, Gallery Director at 510.881.6974, or at

< Back to Exhibitions Home

Tom Tuthill
Tom Tuthill
Tom Tuthill
Tom Tuthill
Tom Tuthill
Tom Tuthill
Tom Tuthill
Tom Tuthill
Tom Tuthill
Tom Tuthill