It’s a rare thing to walk into Tacoma’s glass-based Traver Gallery and see it filled with ceramics. It’s also rare to see it all filled with the same kind of art. But with “Yours, Ours and Mine,” the work might be on ceramic but it’s painted by artists who usually work with glass, and of course every single platter is very different, created by either Cappy Thompson, Dick Weiss or Jeffry Mitchell, or some combination of the three. It’s also a joy to look at.
Like kids playing together at play-dough, Thompson, Mitchell and Weiss delve into a realm where nature and myth meet. They paint peacocks with women’s eyes, tigers with tongues like Hindu gods, flowers with sweet faces and skulls puffing pipes. They’re overlaid on more subtle, dreamlike images of wafty clouds crying tears of paint, or robot armadillos, with every so often a big splodge of thick black paint to remind you not to take it all too seriously.
In another corner, Weiss paints birds onto uneven-edged rectangular platters. Swans with yoga necks, ducks with blank eyes, even a spiral-eyed owl have feathers etched onto the paint with caressing strokes. Weiss graffitis the edges with irreverent comments like “Boo.”
In the center of the ceramic-filled gallery (this show was timed to coincide with the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts conference coming up soon in Seattle) are slumpy vases by Weiss/Thompson full of more licking tigers and cross-eyed daisies, and the magnificent head “George,” its white dome splattered with fecund painted vegetation like an ancient Roman statue being subsumed by the jungle.
Finally Thompson gets back to her usual mythological mode, occasionally aided by Weiss: white and black paint on ochre plaques telling a strange but comforting narrative of quests, Norse canoe journeys, angels, queens and haloed heroes, their curvy noses and flat perspective casting them into a timeless realm that’s somehow underscored by their existing on clay rather than glass.