In the rush of traffic on North 30th Street the small Sandpiper Gallery tends to get swept by. And being in Old Town, it doesn’t have the same lure as all the downtown venues on ArtWalk night (this Thursday, BTW.) But when it’s not showing generic misty Puget Sound photographs or watercolors, Sandpiper has some good stuff. This month it’s “Vessels,” mother-daughter pair Jill Nordfors Clark and Erica Nordfors Applewhite combining the sculptural and the flat, the abstract and the figurative in a really pleasing way.
Clark is a weaver. Recently featured in a prestigious collection show at Bellevue Arts Museum, her baskets layer clear stretchy hog gut with various other elements to produce vessels that, like blown glass, are as much about the material as the shape. In “Weir” the gut is laced with black twigs and reed to make a tall prism that’s formal, almost industrial. “From the Weaver’s Hand” combines black bamboo and parachute cord in earthy ochres and browns, curving up and around a translucent internal skin like a protective veil. In “Wave,” the parachute cord is royal blue and aqua, winding with palm tree fronds in a gorgeous liquid motion. “Road Trip” curls pink, maroon and lavender yarn (wrapped around bamboo) for a fantasy garden effect.
Some of Clark’s baskets are set on horizontal mirrors – it’s a nice, elongating effect up close.
Applewhite, Clark’s daughter, chooses people over form. Her “Ferry Drawings” capture in reddish-brown pencil intimately cropped scenes from individual lives. The shading is complex – the back of a curly head of hair, or a heavily cross-hatched coat – and the portraits are often highly foreshortened: You’re right next to all these unknown commuters as they read, doze or dream.
By the window Applewhite also has four sweet little woodblock prints: a curious turtle, three robin-blue eggs in a chaotic nest. At around three by four inches they’re overframed, but worth seeing more of.
“Vessels” runs through Nov. 30 at Sandpiper Gallery, 2221 N. 30th St., Tacoma. noon-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Free. 253-627-6667