“Toby is based on my tomboy friend growing up in LA. She was four years older and I loved her … What Toby taught me then, and what he means now, is all about acceptance – acceptance of yourself and acceptance of others. He’s my alter ego, but the goal of Toby is to be the keeper of secrets, the secrets I could not even share with my closest friends or family.”
–Gary Baseman for the South Morning Post
This month we celebrate two important moments for Gary Baseman’s iconic character Toby. Take a look back at two exhibitions featuring Baseman’s unconditional friend. For the Love of Toby (May 2005) and Happy Toby to You! (May 2015).
The introduction of this famous cat-like character in Baseman’s world was 15 years ago at the then-new Billy Shire Fine Arts gallery in Culver City. Blurring the lines between toy culture and fine art, For the Love of Toby was an exhibition that featured Toby through a range of different mediums including wood panel paintings, vintage photographs, ephemera, and one installation of 200 plush figures of Toby.
Ten years later, held at the busy Time Square complex in Causeway Bay in Hong Kong, Happy Toby to You! celebrated Toby’s 10th birthday with an exhibition featuring large size installations, photographs, and videos of Toby’s adventurous world travels. According to Baseman, he started photographing Toby’s travels after his visit to the Sistine Chapel in 2005 where he took the first picture of Toby with Michelangelo’s masterpiece as background. Since then, he’s taken thousands of Toby Travels photos celebrating life, diversity, and different cultures around the world—major themes in his work. Co-designed by Baseman and Hjalti Karlsson of New York-based design firm karlssonwilker, this exhibition created an experiential environment in a unique space.
Follow Baseman on Instagram to discover some of the many places that Toby has visited with the artist and don’t forget to check out our store to find some commemorative items that celebrate Toby’s unconditional friendship.
Has Toby traveled with you? Email us your photos at email@example.com
Remember that some friends will come and go in your life, but not Toby. He loves you. He truly loves you!