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Up Now on the Walls

Post by Rosemary Ponnekanti / The News Tribune on March 29, 2009 at 6:00 am with No Comments »
March 29, 2009 6:00 am

Two shows up now in Tacoma that are worth a long-ish look: a spring show, with two new artists, at Impromptu, and mind-bending photos at the UWT Iron Gallery.

Heather Cornelius and Mirka Hokkanen are the two newcomers at the Grand Impromptu Gallery. Hokkanen, from Finland by way of Illinois and Texas, creates delicate prints on unraveling linen, the meeting place of her self and her memories of childhood. Tiny gnomes converse (or fail to) on eloquently-leafed graphite branches; the whole thing reminds you of Enid Blyton illustrations with a sparse, melancholy twist.

Mirka Hokkanen, “The Meeting.” Photo courtesy of the artist.

Cornelius, a local ceramicist, has installed a family of “Pear Women” in the gallery’s front window. Lusciously bodied, with ripe-brown skin, slumped backs, saggy tummies and deeply etched privates, these pears are gorgeously clever and almost painterly, like a still life come to–well–life.

Heather Cornelius, “Trio of Pears.” Photo courtesy of the artist.

Over at Iron Gallery (hidden inside the UWT through the door next to the bookstore), photographer Doris Jew Conrath teases your eye and mind with ordinary things in very warped space continua. Fascinated by mom-and-pop shopping strips that are dying off in the face of big-box retail, the SOTA teacher has done a series of photographs “unfolding” three-dimensional buildings in literally all their dimensions. What looks like a standard panorama shot of a strip mall becomes, on closer inspection, exactly the same store seen from front, side and back view, the three views seamlessly melded.

Doris Jew Conrath, “Riverton.” Photo courtesy of the artist.

Conrath puts clues in her photos–over here the curb changes abruptly to pavement, over there the stairs are exact opposites of the ones on the other side. But the eye is still fooled, and the discrepancy between your internal knowledge of how space works and Conrath’s visual documentary of how it doesn’t keeps you enthralled, just trying to get your head around the dimensions.

Doris Jew Conrath, “Moolicious.” Photo courtesy of the artist.

While the strip malls unfold (scarily) into a believable structure, highly patterned buildings like the “Moolicious” espresso truck and the house with builders’ posters create a post-minimalist groove, quietly trippy.

Doris Jew Conrath, “Tyvek House.” Photo courtesy of the artist.

Grand Impromptu Gallery is located at 608 South Fawcett St., Tacoma. Hours: 4-8 p.m. Thursdays, noon-8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 2-6 p.m. Sundays. “It’s a Spring Thing” shows through April 11.

253-572-9232, http://grandimpromptugallery.com

Iron Gallery is located at 1742 Pacific Ave., Tacoma. Hours: noon-4 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays; 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays. “Unfolded Spaces” is on view through April. 253-571-7914

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