There’s a flock of shiny, glittery birds just flown into Tacoma, and they’ve alighted at Madera. Crows, ravens and a shimmering peacock, woven out of wire and reclaimed tin cans by artist Jennevieve Schlemmer, perch with cocked eye in the center of the downtown artisan showspace, and they shine both literally and artistically.
Schlemmer is better known around town for her large-scale mosaic public art pieces, like the one on the side of the police station on North 26th Street. She’s made monkeys for the 100th Monkey party, taken part in performance art like the Art on the Ave sewing sculpture, and made a plastic bag polar bear for the Zoo’s World Ocean Day in 2008.
But lately, Schlemmer’s been bothered by the environmental havoc caused by the tile industry – quarrying, transportation pollution, and a lot of waste. So when a friend handed her a bag of tin can bits, Schlemmer took it, and then took a class on how to make art with it.
Hours of hand-cutting and sanding and wire-twisting later, the result is a flock of 13 birds with wire frames and colorfully shiny tin feathers now on view at Madera Architectural Elements, of which Schlemmer is a member artist. In “Raven meets Crow,” Schlemmer’s mixed it up: some feathers are circular, some square, some overlapping, some sparse. All are clever and snappy, just like real crows and ravens. The “High Fidelity” crow has feathers made of old record vinyl, sparsely black. “A Red Red Rose” shows off hand-twisted spirals of red and silver wire, with layers of red tin circles like a shimmying ‘20s dress. There are feathers made of old pennies, commemorative tins, buttons, brooches.
Holding center court, though, is the peacock. Two feet high with a tail sweeping down to the floor, her body shines with gold and silver tin and her tail is garnished with tin flowers petalled in pink and purple. The best thing is how Schlemmer mixes the regal, puffed-chest pose with the goofy expression in the circular eye – like all peacocks, this one’s beautiful, vain and delightfully stupid.
Madera Architectural Elements is a Tacoma studio showcase for 13 local artisans in handmade furnishing and building components. Jennevieve Schlemmer’s “Raven Meets Crow” is on view through July 14. Hours: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m.-8 p.m. third Thursdays. 2210 Court A, Tacoma. 253-572-1218, www.maderawoodworking.com
More about Jennevieve Schlemmer at jennevieve.com or ravenmeetscrow.etsy.com