If you ever thought Sandpiper Gallery was just for calming photographs of Puget Sound sunsets, you obviously haven’t been down there lately. Thanks to concrete art diva Lynn DiNino, the gallery is transforming into an alter-ego of quirky sculpture, wearable art and now graffiti-based subversive wit from Lakewood painter James Hume.
Apart from his famous father Ed Hume of Northwest gardening fame, Hume’s best known for Kulture Lab, the insta-gallery phenomenon which sprang up in various downtown venues a few years ago and involved the dark, moody painters based in Rampart Gallery, among others. Hume’s own work is sarcastic and in-your-face, though with his Sandpiper show “Not Painting Flowers” (curated by DiNino) he’s branching out into different media, from spray paint to sculpture.
The new Hume takes existing images, often iconic, and alters them into social commentary. It’s apparently inspired by Paris street artists, whom Hume noticed adding to poster advertisements before they were torn down – the ultimate in ephemeral art.
Of the 15 paintings and two 3D works, the best are those that temper acidity with wit, rather than toilet humor.
“Mona’s Moon” envelopes the Mona Lisa in a long black dress (her hair?) which she hoists with wicked look for us to get a good view of her pearly buttocks. These are liberally tagged with the sumi-black signatures of local graffiti artists (Kulture Lab participants) including, appropriately, one called Ink. The foreshortening is brilliant, the lines spray-paint-clear.
“Boogeyman” is another original, channeling 18th-century philosophical drawings into a portrait of a bemused robotic creature made up of drum, rockets, pipes, birdcage and KKK mask stomping all over a quaint European village. In “Wonderful Dreams” a bizarre machine is imprinted over the brain of a thick-lashed starlet, layered over the sheet music for the song. “Kerouac” spray-paints the writer’s melancholy face over a mixed-up road map.
After that, things get a little tedious. Steve McQueen gets the neon Warhol treatment, while a vintage typewriter is displayed as Kerouac’s suppository (the return lever, get it?), fed with a gratuitous paper picture of a female backside. The potty humor continues with “eatmybutt.com”, where the typewriter’s image is laid over Kerouac text. There’s not much subtlety here, but the lines are strong and the graffiti-pop mix is worth a laugh.
James Hume’s “Not Painting Flowers” shows at Sandpiper Gallery, 2221 N. 30th St., Tacoma. Noon-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday through Oct. 18. 253-627-6667