An international expert and lecturer on the subject of Christmas, Holiday Rituals, and Santa Claus, Visual Presentation Professor Emeritus Dolph Gotelli’s exhibitions have documented design in cultures around the world. International folk toys, global festivals, rituals, and celebrations, masks, edible media, Kitsch, and Fantasy as a problem solving methodology are among the categories that constitute his subject matter.
As a curator and exhibition designer, he has designed and installed major displays in retail settings such as Neiman Marcus, Dallas, and Macy’s, San Francisco; in museums including the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, Los Angeles Craft and Folk Art Museum and Canadian Craft Museum in Vancouver, BC. As Director and Founder of the Design Museum at UC Davis, he has been responsible for the national reputation of the gallery as an innovative and dynamic space that is on the cutting edge of presenting themed exhibitions from a global perspective. The design museum has presented numerous well-received exhibitions as “Designed for Fright: Halloween Imagery in the American Home,” “you ART what you EAT,” “The Kitsch Show: An Exhibition of Bad Taste.” Gotelli was visual curator for an international traveling exhibition titled ”Pani & Fili, Bread & Threads: Visual Parallels in Italian Breads and Textiles” that has been viewed in the United States, Canada and Italy.
As a Professor at University of California, Davis for 35 years, Gotelli developed a class based on fantasy as a problem-solving devise in which students were prompted to explore their own creativity and exercise their imaginations.
Known internationally as an expert and collector on the subject of Christmas, Dolph has increased the interest and importance of holidays and festivals as a necessity for everyday life. His research of celebrations and rituals around the world is utilized in his lectures and curatorial work. His themed exhibitions have brought to the public a greater knowledge and appreciation of international folk art culture. His ground breaking exhibition, “The Santa Show,” at the Crocker Art Museum in 1977-78 was a catalyst that energized Santa collecting throughout the United States.
His work has been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The Christian Science Monitor, Newsweek, Smithsonian, Visual Merchandising & Store Design, and MCM an Italian design magazine, and national television and radio shows. He lectures nationally and internationally on his areas of expertise.