Tacoma’s two new galleries, B2 and Mavi Contemporary Art, opened last Thursday with two quite different styles but a common aim: market appeal.
B2 (pronounced B-squared) is in fact part of a framing and commercial art dealing business, and it shows in the smooth, fairly unchallenging work that’s on view. Which isn’t to say the work’s not good. Chinese brush artist Jun Kang Ye’s paintings of animals and birds take a tight focus, with a light stroke creating realistic feathers and fur. Her birds, llamas and horses have whimsical, almost human expressions, and the two-tone background is soothing. Keith Lazelle’s nature photographs are mostly the calendar-perfect shots you’d imagine, but a few have real originality, taking texture and line from sumi-e painting, like an abstracted pinky-red canyon or a lime-turquoise river. Jim Brown’s paint/print works are more boringly corporate, though Philip Kramer’s aerial shots are more arresting in their geometric composition. Also notable are the woven cedar sculptures from Marlien Hennen, totem poles and curvy snake-like objects multi-textured with buttons and wood. It’s a pity the space works so much against the art: It’s 80 per cent window, with bright western light making the work hard to see.
Over at Mavi, the atmosphere’s more fine art, but still not too challenging. The transformation of the former Two Vaults couldn’t be more dramatic: wide open space, clear windows edged in copper, blank beige walls, plenty of light and a gorgeous flecked concrete floor (apparently discovered under five layers of paint.) On the walls is the large-scale painting of Gig Harbor artist William Quinn; his semi-abstract, Picasso-like compositions are summerish, hinting at bikinis, bulls and straw hats in lots of white space. They’re all rather same-ish but nicely spaced and easy to look at. There’s also some Quinn carved wood figures, oddly unsettling in between two- and three-dimensional, some Raku pottery by Wanda Garrity, and chunky enameled jewelry by Ilse Verhalle.
Mavi Contemporary Art will open with a reception 5-9 p.m. Aug. 19, then will be open 2-8 p.m. Wednesdays and noon-8 p.m. Thursday-Sunday at 502 S. Fawcett Ave., Tacoma. 253-759-6233, www.mavigallery.com
B2 is open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday at 711 St. Helens Ave. Suite 100, Tacoma. 253-238-5065, www.b2finearts.com