It may seem a bit self-promoting to host a show of photographs depicting your own building, but once you’ve gotten past that hiccup the new exhibit of Peter Serko photographs at the Museum of Glass is well worth seeing: a vision of intensely colored angles and reflections stretching along the museum’s back gallery.
Serko often works in moody black and white, but here he abandons misty long views for vivid close-ups of the museum building and surrounds, charged with candy-box of colors in a wide variety of light. As a resident of the museum district since 2006 (Serko lives in one of the waterfront condos; I’ve run into him walking his dog along Dock Street) he’s perfectly poised to make such an in-depth study of this architecture in all seasons. And as someone who moved to Tacoma in 1979, he’s also got a longer vision – of how “intentional or not, art transformed Tacoma” from seedy to beautiful.
In “Transformation” Serko captures this momentum on paper with an eye for light and color. “Never an Afterthought” shows the exact same gallery the exhibit hangs in, shot through with western sun; the glass sculptures seem to float on the pale gold light. “Caught Ya” captures a slivered moon wafting over the very top of the cone like a mirage in a gray-green twilight sky. “Cloud Maker” is the view every visitor sees looking up at the cone from the curvy steps, but covered in – unusually, for Tacoma – puff-clouds in a cerulean sky.
Of course, the architecturally compelling cone tends to dominate Serko’s photographs, as it does everyone’s view of the museum. It’s there framing a dazzling orange sunset or the green-lit pool sculpture “Incidence” (2002-08), a white-wet winter sky reflected in Martin Blank’s curling glass “Fluent Steps” or angled against the uprights of “Water Forest” on the plaza. One of the most effective is “They Left the Lights On,” setting the yellow-white warmth of light spilling out of the front doors against a threatening, cone-speared black night sky.
It’s hard to resist the cone’s visual lure, but Serko manages it with a view of the museum through Dale Chihuly’s Union Station window and a stunning close-up of Joseph Rossano’s “Mirrored Murrelets” (2008-10), in full silver flight against an indigo plaza and pool.
Serko invites members of the community to submit their own photos of MoG: Some are selected for a slideshow that is displayed in the museum’s entry hall near the exhibition. Send photos here.
It would be nice (and less self-obsessed) for the museum to put Serko’s work in the context of his other, equally artistic dockland views. Even so, “Transformation” is well worth a visit.
“Transformation” runs through Jan. 8, 2012. Summer hours 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 12-5 p.m. Sunday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. third Thursdays. $12/$10/$8/free for under-six and 5-8 p.m. third Thursdays. 1801 Dock St., Tacoma. 866-4-MUSEUM, www.museumofglass.org