Since it opened, Flow gallery on Puyallup Avenue in Tacoma’s Dome district has devoted a lot of space to creative extensions of sumi-e brush painting, and the latest show “Full Spectrum” – vibrant, mixed media work by Nola Tresslar – follows the theme.
Apart from the straight sumi-e, however, Tresslar’s work is as much a fascinating “how did she do it” puzzle as art. The artist uses a lot of recycled and found materials, but transforms them almost beyond recognition: cheap packing paper hardened into metallic chain mail, foam filler gilded and sculpted into encaustic-like bubbles, patinaed copper and rusted steel framing a leaf threaded with copper wire.
Her Zen art hangings feel a bit contrived – collages of old yen notes and pulled washi paper under plexiglass – and her backwards-painted, plexiglass-mounted faces are a little ingenuous. But what Tresslar does really well is color and texture: her mixed-media pieces flow between materials and vibrant golds, reds and blues, while “Releasing the Dragon” is an outpouring of red and gold paint streaks and molten bubbles.
And yes, there’s straight sumi-e also, mostly subtle and pleasing: the fuzz of peach, the curve of a rabbit’s back, an abstract sunset swathe.
“Full Spectrum” is open by appointment through October. Free. Flow gallery and studio, 301 Puyallup Ave., Tacoma. 253-255-4675, email@example.com