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Edgy glass and neon sculpture at Tacoma’s Fulcrum Gallery

Post by Rosemary Ponnekanti / The News Tribune on May 26, 2011 at 6:37 am with No Comments »
May 27, 2011 2:23 pm
Oliver Doriss, "Cloched City" and vessels. Courtesy photo.

It might have a pretentious name, but don’t let that put you off. Fulcrum Gallery’s latest show “Pr3v1ews & Pr0toTyp3s” is an inventive combination of two of Tacoma’s most edgy glass artists – Galen McCarty Turner in flashing weird-science neon, and Oliver Doriss with elegant in-your-face cast glass – and together the effect goes way beyond the sum of the parts.

With Turner around the walls and Doriss in the center, “Pr3v1ews” is an extremely balanced show, which only highlights the way each artist pushes boundaries. Turner creates neon sculptures – twisty, spirally, bulbous tubes of clear glass (blown by Doriss, a former Museum of Glass crew member) filled with neon and plugged in to electrify in tangerines, lavenders and aquas. Mounted on Norman arch frames they’re rather like tiny church windows for a house of science, rather than God, and each has its own character. Unfortunately, the neon’s rather unpredictable, and only a couple (“Piss Light 2,” for example) have enough colored gas in them to make sense of the concept. Seeing them in the bright light of day also takes away half of the effect – possibly some window shading might help here.

In the center of this whimsy are half-a-dozen works by Doriss, who for years now has been refining his chunky, iceberg style of cast glass. Long and smooth, coated on the inside with hypnotic color and encasing fractured gold leaf, Doriss’ vessels are the disdainful chalices to Turner’s glass windows. Adding to the post-modern Victorian effect are three beautiful “Cloched City” sculptures: miniature ice chunks, this time shot through with sparkly gold, and entombed in clear glass bell jars blown ever so asymmetrically. Each is slightly different – a gold rim, three clawed feet – but each is capped with a handle stamped ODD (Oliver Doriss Designs).

Combined, Turner and Doriss’ work turn the front gallery at Fulcrum into a kind of English church inhabited by a mad scientist, complete with the weird buzzing of neon that’ll set your teeth on edge.

Galen McCarty Turner, "Bike Jump." Courtesy photo.

In the back, beautifully lit in the dark, is what Turner’s maybe most famous for – his Bike Jump. Set in a wooden eight-foot-high frame are pairs of horizontal glass tubes sculpted into heart-monitor lines: jagged, regular or flatline. Each is filled with neon stimulated by 90,000 volts to shine pink, orange or blue, and each will be thoroughly smashed at 8 p.m. August 13 as Turner (a.k.a. Gaytron the Imploder) does his third Bike Jump right through them, scattering neon and glass around the alleyway at 6th Avenue and South I Street. The jump is a fundraiser for Hilltop second-hand bike-shop 2nd Cycle, but it’s also a performance art event that hits new heights for sheer crazy courage (and also invites the words “panty-melting” into Turner’s work description.)

Galen McCarty Turner doing his annual Bike Jump. Courtesy photo.

On the wall behind the Bike Jump is a thought-juggling collage of local work on paper: Kristin Giordano’s sci-fi photographs of Qatar landscapes, Maria Jost’s lush botanical drawings and Sean Anderson’s sad, intricate pen and ink works.

“Pr3v1ews & Pr0toTyp3s” is open noon-6 p.m. Thursday-Saturday through June 11, with a special Glass Art Society open house 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. June 1. Free. Fulcrum Gallery, 1308 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma. 253-250-0520, www.fulcrumtacoma.com


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