It sits at the corner of South 15th and G Streets like a beacon. Architecturally it’s just an ordinary large four-square Craftsman of the kind you see all over that neighborhood, but it’s what’s in the windows that make it shine, literally: 28 backlit photographic panels of brambles, thistles and weeds on a heroic scale, lighting the darkness in silent, appreciative hope. It’s “FlowerHouse,” a City of Tacoma-granted installation by artist Duncan Price, who lives in the house and has come up with a great way to brighten the darkest time of the year (and promote his work at the same time).
Sitting on the corner one block down from St. Leo’s and St. Nicholas’ on Yakima Avenue, the “FlowerHouse” functions, in fact, a little like a church – visually, at least. Every single window, from the small rectangle over the doorframe to the three-part bay window on the side to the upstairs bedrooms, is completely covered over with a backlit rectangle printed with a giant, close-up shot of a weed. Yes, Northwest garden pariahs like blackberry, ivy and thistle are here captured with all the care and fascination usually given to more exotic species like hummingbirds or orchids: A yellow dandelion bloom sparkles with morning condensation, a bramble’s thorn arches greenly out of a blood-red base, a purple thistle-flower spreads a dainty, delicate filigree. The photographic plants dialogue with the real brambles that reach up the walls from the yard, and the grasses and weeping spruces of the landscaped parking strip.
As photographs, they’re rendered with all the detachment professional skill that Price, a 10-year commercial photographer who works with many local artists, shows in his daily work. But it’s the installation that really takes off. Like stained glass showing heavenly glories, “FlowerHouse” offers an unashamed celebration of the everyday haloed by light and hope.
“FlowerHouse” is on view 24/7 through December. Free. Corner South 15th and G Streets, Tacoma. duncanpricephotography.com