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“Rabbitual” takes over Two Vaults

Post by Rosemary Ponnekanti / The News Tribune on Aug. 26, 2009 at 11:04 am with No Comments »
August 26, 2009 11:04 am

Zoe Williams, “Genesis Deconstruction”. Photo courtesy Two Vaults.

Rabbits are running wild all over Two Vaults gallery. The annual group show “Rabbitual” is on almost every single wall, featuring 77 works by 45 different artists, and there’s a huge variety: some what you’d expect, some disappointing, but some really intriguing.

It’s impossible to cover such a huge show completely. “Rabbitual” is this year’s version of Two Vaults’ annual big group show, and the variety of media is great to see: paint, ceramics, concrete, textiles, mixed and digital media.

One of the best has got to be Zoe Williams. Her “Genesis Deconstructed” (above) puts white felted rabbits in a relief triptych. Three wooden-framed panels, just 4×6 inches, cold white furry rabbit parts squirming delightfully out of the picture plane, red-eyed and pink-eared, both lifelike and intensely sculptural. In “Mitosis I-V”, ‘stuffed’ rabbit heads (again in felted white wool) develop mounting by mounting into a multiheaded mutation, disturbing in its white innocence.

Lee Musgrave, “Soft Encounter.” Photo courtesy Two Vaults.

The innocence factor is explored also by Lee Musgrove in the “Unwavering Adoration” series of pencil and watercolor drawings. A naked woman and naked rabbit come face to face in matching wide-eyed naivety, hopeful rather than saccharine.

Then innocence turns sinister: Joseph Larkin’s “Paladin” embeds a painted portrait of an evil-eyed Medusa in a fascinating tapestry of braided fabric, wool and snakeskin, coiling like Medusa’s snaky hair and snaring the trusting rabbit held possesively in her arms.

Of course, rabbits symbolize more than just innocence, and that’s what opens up this animal show to all sorts of levels. Artists take on sexual proclivity (Kelly Lyles’ “Viagra Falls”), cuteness (Dayton Knipher’s rather slow but interesting photo slide show on a reluctant Easter Bunny visitor), magic acts (Dorothy McCuistion’s black-printed rabbit half-disappearing into a miasmic sea of red acrylic) and nature (Lynn di Nino’s adorably splayed white concrete bunny earnestly seizing a carrot from a fecund, green egg of earth).

There’s also the unexpected view. Christopher Mathie’s oils are darkly shadowed with sad paint drips, his earth-toned rabbit lean, huge-eared and wistful. Catherine Swanson’s bunnies are funky, their white silhouettes outlined in hot pink and black on a candy-striped background like a ’70s music video.

And there’s a fair amount of the boringly predictable: tame oils and acrylics, sentimental ceramics, not-quite-funny cartoons. But there’s so much in “Rabbitual” that these don’t matter – you can take the best and munch on that.

“Rabbitual” is on view 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday, noon-8 p.m. Thursday-Friday and 2-9 p.m. Saturday through Sept. 12. Two Vaults gallery, 602 S. Fawcett St., Tacoma. 253-759-6233, www.twovaults.com

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