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Shaved clay and tumbling birds fill The Gallery at Tacoma Community College

Post by Rosemary Ponnekanti / The News Tribune on Nov. 22, 2012 at 5:11 am |
November 20, 2012 10:16 am
Marit Berg, "Demise of the Ivory Billed Woodpecker." Courtesy image.

Happy  Thanksgiving! It’s closed til next week, but here’s a taste of what’s up at TCC gallery.

Clay curls, intricate pencil drawings and mixed media nature works make up a new exhibit at The Gallery at Tacoma Community College, as current faculty Marit Berg and Melinda Liebers Cox plus retired faculty member Frank Dippolito combine for a group show. Each artist has something different to say, but there’s enough continuity in style and media to gell the show into an interesting whole.

For each artist, though, there’s definitely a medium that best shows their strength. For Cox it’s delicately shaded color pencil drawings. In the front of the gallery her wide prairie paintings are flat, with no sense of that enormous prairie perspective. Her pick-up truck spilling out with foreshortened melons is better, but walk around the corner and suddenly you see directly into Cox’s fine sense of humor: three birds, their feathers penciled softly and fluffily, are tumbling through a juggler’s hands in one frame, balancing cutely on a ball in the other. Like little kids at a gymnastics class, their eyes light up with quizzical joy in their surreal acrobatics.

Melinda Liebers Cox, “China Painter 1.” Courtesy photo.

Cox’s Edwardian flower “paintings,” their half-finished colors springing Escher-like from their paintboxes, are as tranquil as vintage embroidery.

Also excellent with birds is Marit Berg.
While her four house-shaped “Biome” paintings look a little unfinished, the careful outlines of birds and animals superimposed on serious layers of washed vegetation, her “Demise of the Ivory Billed Woodpecker” is just gorgeous. Four images of the bird show fainter and fainter: The first is shiny and saturated with blue-black watercolor feathers and red crest; the second a shadowed gray ink wash; the third a smudgy charcoal and the fourth merely a detailed embossing of the paper, the bird now a beautiful ghost. Berg’s red-brown etchings of torture equipment show an equally detailed attention to shading and texture.

Dippolito ranges the most widely, from large chalk paintings to mixed-media oils and ceramics. But it’s the latter that really speaks: shaved curls of clay, looking just as raw as when they come off the block, are scattered around mysterious funerary objects, or themselves make up ironic lattice-work vases, and the glazes are much more complex than any of the stark black-and-color oils or wafty chalks.

“Berg, Cox, Dippolito” is on view noon-5 p.m. Monday-Friday through Dec. 14. Free. TCC Gallery, Building 4, Tacoma Community College (at the north end of campus, near the corner of South 12th and Mildred Streets), Tacoma. 253-460-4381, tacomacc.edu


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