His sculptures were becoming smoother and more pared down, too, á la Morandi. Instead of the dark-hued, high-fire stoneware clay that Voulkos used, Nagle started slip-casting with low-fire clay, a method employed primarily at the time by hobbyists, including Nagle’s own mother. He started making forms with smooth curves, crisp edges, and glazing in bold colors. In 1968, his first solo show at San Francisco’s Dilexi Gallery featured a series of three-inch-tall cups, each constructed from wonky, graphic shapes, which were cast, assembled, then coated in shimmering china paint. He embedded these in vacuum-formed plexi, nestled them in boxes, and hung them on the wall. In a deliciously irreverent twist, Nagle proffered cups—traditionally down-home, functional objects—like paintings. His San Francisco community loved them, and he even nabbed an effusive review in the city’s paper of note, the San Francisco Chronicle.
By the early ’70s, Nagle’s music career was ramping up, too. While music and art had always coexisted, producing and songwriting began to take over. In 1970 he recorded Bad Rice, a solo album under Warner Brothers. Then in 1972, not long after Berkeley sacked him from his job—a very low moment in Nagle’s life—he landed an unexpected gig creating special sound effects for The Exorcist (1973),the famed cult horror flick which went on to win an Academy Award for Best Sound. Over the next several years, Nagle penned songs for Pablo Cruise, Jefferson Airplane, and Barbara Streisand. But all the while, ideas for sculptures percolated, too.