Hard to believe that the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation has been presenting its annual Foundation of Art Award for five years now, but it’s true – and the community-funding non-profit is celebrating the anniversary with a show at downtown Tacoma’s B2 Gallery spanning 40 nominees and winners from the award’s past five years. The result is a cohesive exhibit that skims over some of Tacoma’s best artists and their recent work, including this year’s winner glassblower Oliver Doriss.
Doriss’ piece is just to the left of the entrance, and it’s a bit of a surprise. Leaving his usual chunky vases and forms for a figurative 2-D work, the glass artist (and Fulcrum Gallery owner) has riffed on a moody, New Age-type landscape, with a circular glass blue moon rippling with silver metal and green enamel hanging over a triangular arch of brown “earth.” The arch gets sophistication from the thick, jagged edges, and the whole thing sparkles with a metallic, otherworldly sheen, but the size and serenity looks created for decorating a wall rather than the boldness of Doriss’ other work (this award is given on the basis of a body of work, not just one piece.)
Around the rest of the gallery is a who’s who in Tacoma art. There’s a meticulously painted barn by 2010 winner Jeremy Mangan, crushed under the weight of a pale day moon and a huge blue sky, talking rather nicely to the little donkey in front of it made out of chai tea wrappers by Jennifer Adams. There’s a powerfully sad mixed media sculpture by Jeremy Gregory, who lays one of his blue-handed clay puppets behind a confining wall of calendar scratchings and stories hidden in bottles. An installation by Gabriel Brown of Tacoma’s Old City Hall as a shoe shine operation isn’t quite as powerful, lacking some subtlety.
It’s a disparate but cohesive show, held together by the quality and zeitgeist of the work. There’s 2011 winner Jessica Spring’s vintage printers’ blocks, delicately imprinted with dotted patterns and an old-world feel; and the sign-writing-inspired paintwork of 2008 winner Chris Sharp. There are marvelously organic creations by Holly Senn (a giant wasp’s egg made of ruched book pages) and Kyle Dillehay (a brain-like form rooted through with clay, moss and soil.) There’s Toot Reid’s thread-trailing quilts, each square unique, and a grid of feedtacoma.com comics by R.R. Anderson; Elise Richman’s lush, gloopy paint islands and Sean Alexander’s immaculately shaded, wistfully sad pen-and-ink drawing.
In short, this is the sort of show that ought to be on every year to remind Tacomans of the beautiful, creative work that’s done every day by artists in this city, whether or not they win awards.
Opening reception 5:30-7:30 p.m. Dec. 5, then open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday through Dec. 28. Free. B2Gallery, 711 St. Helens Ave. Suite 100, Tacoma. 253- b2finearts.com