Untitled (Possum Trot Doll)

Media - 2016.38.4 - SAAM-2016.38.4_6 - 142579
Copied Calvin Black, Ruby Black, Untitled (Possum Trot Doll), ca. 1953-1972, carved and painted wood and fabric, 46 12 × 11 34 × 10 12 in. (118.1 × 29.8 × 26.7 cm), Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Margaret Z. Robson Collection, Gift of John E. and Douglas O. Robson, 2016.38.4

Artwork Details

Untitled (Possum Trot Doll)
ca. 1953-1972
Not on view
46 12 × 11 34 × 10 12 in. (118.1 × 29.8 × 26.7 cm)
Credit Line
The Margaret Z. Robson Collection, Gift of John E. and Douglas O. Robson
Mediums Description
carved and painted wood and fabric
Object Number

Artwork Description

In the 1950s and ‘60s, husband and wife team Calvin and Ruby Black created “Possum Trot,” a desert roadside attraction/art environment in Yermo, California, along the route to Calico Ghost Town.

At the heart of the attraction were eighty large-scale dolls, modeled on friends and celebrities; Calvin carved and painted the figures, and Ruby made their costumes. Calvin later built the Birdcage Theater for their “Fantasy Doll Show”; they staged animated displays, complete with audio tracks Calvin recorded for the dolls. Between the time Calvin died and the end of Ruby’s life, the site deteriorated and was ultimately dismantled. Today, photographs, film footage, audio recordings, painted signs, and the remaining dolls themselves reveal the unique richness and vitality of a lived art environment.
(We Are Made of Stories: Self-Taught Artists in the Robson Family Collection, 2022)