Want some art that’s provocative in more ways than one? Then peep through the windows at Mineral and Gallery 301. It’s not often you get a group show that’s both strong in theme and high in quality, and luckily for Tacomans, there’s two of them right now next door to one another on Puyallup Avenue. Best of all, they tackle moral and sexual issues that most exhibits stay away from. In “Entrance Denied” at Mineral, 18 chastity belts (male and female) line the walls and cases; in “The Seven Deadly Sins” at Gallery 301, a host of local artists and writers reinterpret the age-old temptations.
“Entrance Denied” is by far the more compelling (it’s also part of the city-wide MetalUrge festival.) Artist takes on the device that’s gone from medieval home security to contemporary pleasure aid range all over the spectrum. Amy McBride revels in the sheer pleasure of the idea, her copper panties lined with luscious rabbit fur and with a glass lens peephole in the crotch. By sheer coincidence, the copper sheet came already imprinted with the word “Hussey” (sic.) Along the same lines, Lauren Osmoski and Amy Pomering create a belt that’s pure flirtation: Osmoski’s copper and brass Mardi Gras mask strapped on with Pomering’s delicate leather bindings, which end delightfully in wings and whale flukes.
Some artists celebrate the virtue of what the belt holds inside, like Susan Connole’s “Cache,” hand-knitted filigree silver panties with Swarovski crystals or Julia Lowther’s jewelry-belt of dragonscale-patterned mail, violet, magenta and gold.
Some go the other way – Malcolm McLaren’s cigarette-burned, lipstick-stained boxes – and some set out to shock, like Brian Presnell’s machete belt. Funniest of all are the set of five belts for Barbie by Naomi Landig and Dorothy Cheng, the ultimate in functionless (but cute) accessories.
Over at Gallery 301 (curated also by Mineral’s Lisa Kinoshita) is a rather less well-organized introspection of the seven deadly sins. There’s a mixed bag here: Charles Krafft’s Delft-style porcelain skateboard with Nazi images (‘Wrath’) is most striking, as is Chris Causey’s giant steel fork embedded with a pious cross (‘Gluttony’?) Becky Frehse offers a clever mini-peepshow of avaricious leaders (Louis XV with a waterfall of gold, Mao sprinkled with bloody glitter) and yourself in the central mirror; and Beautiful Angle’s poster outlines all seven sins in clever rhyme with the show’s only reference to redemptive grace. Lynn Di Nino’s grotesquely obese corn-fed Goldilocks talks to Lisa Kinoshita’s glass jar of sea urchin shells, lust’s empty remains.
Not all works are strong: Walter Gaya’s Iraq photographs speak more of wrath than Claudia Riedener’s rather obvious black ceramic guns. Nicholas Nyland’s words on jealousy and Chris Sharp’s on laziness, both painted, don’t really grapple with vice. Some of the written texts (ask for the print-out) are banal. Yet despite the fullness and unevenness of the show, it’s thought-provoking, especially in conjunction with the exuberance of the chastity belts next door.
Mineral is open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from noon-5 p.m., Gallery 301 by appointment. Free. Both shows are up through September 5. 301 Puyallup Ave., Tacoma. 253-250-7745, www.lisakinoshita.com