There have been quite a few everyone-in-Tacoma art shows on lately – Fulcrum, Mineral, Brick House – but one of the best is up at Kittredge Gallery. Kittredge, based at the University of Puget Sound, has had a run of interesting shows since Tacoma Art Museum took over the programming, and curator Margaret Bullock – working with UPS folks, of course – has picked another good one.
It’s a display of all nominees and winners of the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation Art Award in the award’s three-year history. This results in a guest list of 25 artists, but Bullock has organized things so serenely in the small space that the variety’s not a problem. In fact, the exhibit feels like a who’s who of Tacoma art, a kind of tiny Tacoma Bienniale, representing the best of what our city can do art-wise.
The three winners are nestled in among the others. Chris Sharp, who won the 2008 award, is there in “Look,” with its bubbly shapes and splashed-over layers echoing the signwriting fonts that inspire all Sharp’s work. Jeremy Mangan (2009) has two of his finely-detailed paintings of American barns doing unbelievable things – perching on stilts, tossing on stormy seas – a perfect mix of stereotype and surreal imagination. Finally, this year’s winner Lisa Kinoshita has three art necklaces, her combinations of geode and glass, pearl and fishhooks exuding a chunky stylishness. (Kinoshita’s commission piece, part of the award along with the cash prize, will be unveiled at Kittredge on Sept. 23.)
Around the rest of the gallery are some of the best of Tacoma’s artists, doing what they do well. There’s Toot Reid’s pulled-fabric quilt, like an elegy to decay. There’s Spencer Ebbinga’s sculptures, gorgeously worked 3D metaphors – like the tall, shingled ceramic house on an inflatable tire raft pulled by three ancient, jade-green turtles. Joe Miller’s landscape of industrial felt is in center place, and diagonally opposite Ebbinga’s work are pieces by Nicholas Nyland, his vivid paintstrokes dashed over ripped cardboard or lumpy, whimsical clay.
The list goes on: Shaun Peterson’s curvaceous “Killer Whale” screenprint in lush teal, Chandler O’Leary’s detailed, nostalgic bird prints, a highly embroidered falconry glove by Shannon Eakins. The smaller room is largely devoted to paper works, a Tacoma strength. Holly Senn’s five spherical sculptures of old book pages sit on the floor like burning suns, partnered strangely by Marc Dombrosky’s embroidered cardboard homeless signs. On the walls are intricately patterned prints by Janet Marcavage, loaded letterpress images by Lance Kagey and Sean Alexander’s infinitely filled pencil drawings of Escher-like illusions.
A survey of three years of the GTCF Award does more than highlight the award’s usefulness – it underlines, like all good biennials, an underlying meta-theme in Tacoma art: thoughtful, ironic, and with a love of craftsmanship.
Kittredge Gallery is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and noon-5 p.m. Saturday at UPS, 1500 N. Warner St, Tacoma. The artist reception for the GTCF Award show is from 5-7 p.m. Sept. 2. www.pugetsound.edu/kittredge