In 1962, Adeliza McHugh opened the Candy Store Gallery in a modest house in Folsom, just outside Sacramento, California. She was among the first to display and sell the avant-garde artistic style that came to be known as “Funk,” along with the lesser-known corollary, “Nut.” The two rooms of the gallery featured works by makers who would become nationally and internationally significant, among them Robert Arneson, Luis Cruz Azaceta, Clayton Bailey, Roy De Forest, Luis Jiménez, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Maija Gegeris Zack, and Joseph Yoakum.
Over its 30-year history, the Candy Store Gallery became a beloved destination for art shopping, socializing, and interacting with artists. Held on what would be the 60th anniversary of the gallery’s founding, The Candy Store: Funk, Nut, and Other Art with a Kick highlights not only a gallery, a trailblazing gallerist, and an esteemed group of artists, but an entire community.
There were, of course, visitors offended by the unrefined and frequently ribald art the gallery featured, much of which was not intended to be easy to like. Some who came seeking candy left hastily. Other naysayers became clients, the legendary gallerist persuading them that good art should make them uncomfortable — at least at first.
“People seem to be drawn to clever artists,” McHugh sighed. “Work they can understand, the tried and the true. Left alone they buy art that has no sex, no violence, no politics, no nothing. Kool-Aid art. If I’m going to drink, I want wine; and if I’m going to look at art, it’s got to have a kick.”
The Candy Store is on view through May 1, 2022, at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, California.