GO Arts

Everything new on the walls, stage, screen and streets of Tacoma and South Puget Sound.

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Category: art – galleries


Artist Ricco diStefano kicks off LeMay Marymount summer arts program with exhibit

Artist Ricco diStefano. Photo courtesy LeMay foundation.
Artist Ricco diStefano. Photo courtesy LeMay foundation.

The LeMay Family Collection Foundation has announced an expanded summer fine arts program at its Marymount campus, kicked off this weekend with the opening of an exhibition of work by Northwest painter Ricco diStefano. The opening preview will be from 5-7 p.m. this Saturday, including an artist reception.

From the press release: “The June 29 event represents a major public exhibition designed to raise awareness (and funds) for an increasingly rich and diverse fine arts program that includes a growing number of fine painting, sculpture and historic offerings ranging from classic Americana and iconic statuary installations to new works by local and world masters.”

Based on Tiger Mountain, Spokane-born artist di Stefano is influenced both by his forested studio and his training in graphic design and illustration, creating Northwest-based landscapes in a vivid, unique style. Exhibits include a recent co-exhibition with Northwest glass legend Dale Chihuly.

A portion of all sales from work at the preview will go to the foundation.

5-7 p.m. June 29. Free. LeMay Marymount Event Center, 325 152nd St. E., Tacoma. lemaymarymount.org Read more »


A banquet of tapestry on Tacoma’s hilltop: locals at Brick House Gallery, international work at the library’s Handforth Gallery

Cecilia Blomberg, "Birches." Photo courtesy Brick House Gallery.
Cecilia Blomberg, “Birches.” Photo courtesy Brick House Gallery.

There’s a banquet of tapestry on show right now in upper downtown Tacoma, both local and international, as the Tapestry Artists of Puget Sound and the American Tapestry Alliance annual shows coincide at Brick House Gallery and the Handforth  Gallery, just two blocks apart, and with a joint reception this Saturday afternoon.

It’s a smart time to check out both shows, which offer a wealth of tapestry in two and three dimensions, a myriad of fibers and a range of genres. The Handforth, located in the Tacoma Public Library main branch, has pretty broad opening hours, but Brick House is on third Thursdays and by appointment only. Since you can easily stroll down the hill from one to the other, the joint opening makes a golden opportunity to see both, and compare.

Left to right: Cecilia Blomberg, Margo Macdonald and Mary Lane collaboratively weave a tapestry. Photo courtesy Margo Macdonald.
Left to right: Cecilia Blomberg, Margo Macdonald and Mary Lane collaboratively weave a tapestry. Photo courtesy Margo Macdonald.

At Brick House there’s a chance to go deep into the art of several local tapestry artists in “TAPS: Contained.” Three of the biggest hitters are Cecilia Blomberg, Mary Lane and Margo Macdonald, and in fact one of the best works in the show is by all three: “Labyrinth,” tucked away in a side room, was woven by the three women side by side, with Macdonald in the center linking Blomberg’s and Lane’s very different styles. A tan labyrinth pattern floats abstractly over ripples of chartreuse, purple and teal – a mental labyrinth in an imagined forest. (The three women have also co-woven three works hanging near the elevators at Mary Bridge Children’s Health Center.)

Blomberg, Macdonald and Lane, "Labyrinth." Photo courtesy Brick House Gallery.
Blomberg, Macdonald and Lane, “Labyrinth.” Photo courtesy Brick House Gallery.

Also collaborative is the signature work “Contained” – a delightful pattern of color fields that in fact represent Tacoma’s shipping containers. Some are pure color – gold, ochre, red – others are patterned, one’s labeled ‘Hanjin.’ They’re lengthwise, end-on, a Tetris of industrial shape and color, juxtaposing a gritty subject with a soft, clean medium.

Blomberg, Lane and Macdonald each have other work in the show. The most striking is Blomberg’s “Birch Rolls,” nine pale white cotton strips some six inches wide and ten feet high, drifting down from the ceiling like skinny birch trunks and blowing slightly in curator Peter MacDonald’s fan breeze. He’s placed the right in front of the window, with lilacs offering a green background outside, and the effect is gorgeous – soft fiber creating its own space in nature. The rolls appear also at the Handforth, where Blomberg has rolled them up for a completely different effect – the detail of the gray-flecked weaving now transformed, the edges becoming a textured side themselves.

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Art outside the (book) box: Puget Sound Book Artists’ annual exhibit at the University of Puget Sound library challenges the whole idea of a book

Judy Lynn, "12th Jan. 2012" in the Puget Sound Book Artists' show at the Collins library at UPS. Photo: Rosemary Ponnekanti
Judy Lynn, “12th Jan. 2012″ in the Puget Sound Book Artists’ show at the Collins library at UPS. Photo: Rosemary Ponnekanti

If you think a book means cardboard covers and paper pages, then you need to head over to the Collins Memorial Library at the University of Puget Sound and have your horizons broadened. The Collins – which throughout the rest of the year hosts a swathe of visiting and local letterpress and book artists – is currently the venue for this year’s exhibit by 30 members of the Puget Sound Book Artists group, and the show continues to stretch the boundaries of creative materials, construction, binding and content.

A non-profit that links amateurs and professionals from all sections of the book art field, the PSBA offers year-round monthly meet-ups for workshops and or lectures. And it’s notjust for folks who live around Puget Sound: This year’s show features work by new members living in Oregon, New Mexico and Indiana.

As such, the show’s by no means even in quality – there’s stunning artistry by letterpress professionals like Chandler O’Leary (delicately watercolored horse prints in a cute little stitched pouch), by print artists like Dorothy McCuistion, Mark Hoppman (intensely textured pencil sketches in a large folio) and  and college instructors like co-curator Kathryn Govan. There’s also less skilled amateur work, which is nevertheless heartfelt and often innovative. Every work is different, and presents the concept of a book in a uniquely thought-out way. Read more »


Tacoma artist and Puyallup member Shaun Peterson wins this year’s Foundation of Art Award


Shaun Peterson. Photo courtesy GTCF.
Shaun Peterson. Photo courtesy GTCF.

Shaun Peterson, a Tacoma print and sculpture artist who is a member of the Puyallup tribe, has won this year’s Foundation of Art Award. The award, in its 6th year, is given by the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation to recognize talent and community commitment among local artists. Peterson will receive the $7,500 cash award, and will also be commissioned to create a piece for the foundation, which will be unveiled in a two-month long exhibition at Fulcrum Gallery starting November 14.

“It’s a great feeling to have recognition in one’s community,” said Peterson in a press release. “It’s something I’ve longed for since my early start, and I am happy to receive this recognition from peers. Making art is often a place of solitude, so to feel a sense of appreciation helps address the time and effort that goes into the creative process.”

Among his other works, Peterson is perhaps best known for his “Welcome Figure,” the carved Native Northwest female figure standing 20 feet high above Tollefson Plaza in downtown Tacoma. Focusing on the art of his Coast Salish roots, Peterson also does painting, print and other sculpture, incorporating glass, metal and light.

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Blue giants, green dragons, red-headed goddesses and white mattresses in Tacoma’s Woolworth Windows

Beth Johnson, "Green Dragon." Photo: Rosemary Ponnekanti
Beth Johnson, “Green Dragon.” Photo: Rosemary Ponnekanti

The latest edition of the Woolworth Windows art in downtown Tacoma is big – really big, with larger-than-life versions of everyday and mythical objects that fill the window space with color, form and vision to stop passers-by in their tracks.

Maybe the most surprising is Beth Johnson, up the theater end of the windows. A self-taught, self-described closet artist who’s obviously got a wealth of imagination, skill and love of fantasy (she gets summer jobs acting at the Renaissance Faire), Johnson has crafted three dragons out of cloth maché – whimsical, humorous and just a little scary. She combines realistic effects (wrinkled skin, reptilian scales, baleful eyes and fiery tongues) with original elements (corkscrew hair that ends in dagger-sharp teeth) and a fun sense of humor: The lizard-green dragon lazily carries a knight’s lance loaded with damsel-in-distress laundry (scarves, chiffon), while the little black guy with the scorpion tail examines a yellow-jacket he’s caught on his tongue with painful dismay. The red dragon, meanwhile, stares angrily out of a trophy mount – perfect lodge décor for your country knight.

One window further down Tacoma’s letterpress printmakers show off their supersize skills in the steamroller prints from this year’s Wayzgoose, a letterpress festival held annually at King’s Books. Read more »


Pastels at the American Art Company range from mediocre to breathtaking

Kari Tirrell, "Train Wreck." Photo courtesy American Art Co.
Kari Tirrell, “Train Wreck.” Photo courtesy American Art Co.

It’s not quite business as usual at the Northwest Pastel Society’s 27th annual International Open Exhibition, on this month and next at American Art Company in downtown Tacoma. Yes, around half of the show is misty, romantic landscapes, all well executed but looking just like pastels pretending to be oil paints and eschewing any originality of vision.

But a handful of the works – mostly those awarded juried prizes – both capture the unique texture and feel of the medium and say something unusual to boot. In the front portrait gallery, many of the works sport light-burnished, angelic subjects gilded with New Age-y palettes of neon pink and yellow. There’s some gratuitously in-your-face flesh from Paul Barton’s nude, and the usual number of feel-good beachside moments. But  Roberta Combs combines the smooth surface and intense tonal clarity of a Renaissance oil with the social commentary of a Diane Arbus photograph in “Harlem Heat.” Z. Feng uses a fascinating charcoal-sketch feel in “Mr. White,” with hair and beard strokes fierce and direct.

Over in the animal section, which includes Van Gogh-inspired zebras and a Harry Potter-esque owl (coincidentally by artist Laurie Potter), there’s one of the show’s most stunning examples of color blending: Joe Mackechnie’s opaque salmon, swimming through a Technicolor stream of teal, magenta and gold. Read more »


Tripod slideshow Friday night features national cartoonist Chris Britt, the new art in Mary Bridge and LaVonne Sallee, the ‘Barbie Lady’ of Oregon


LaVonne Sallee, "Barbie's Last Sleepover." Photo courtesy Lynn Di Nino.
LaVonne Sallee, “Barbie’s Last Sleepover.” Photo courtesy Lynn Di Nino.

The semi-monthly Tripod slide-shows at Gallery Madera in downtown Tacoma always have an array of quirky, fascinating pics, but this Friday the extremes are wild – and locally connected. Mady Murrey will show slides of the new not-so-public art at the Mary Bridge hospital extensions, nationally syndicated cartoonist Chris Britt will show and tell the life of a political cartoonist, and Oregon’s ‘Barbie Lady’ LaVonne Sallee will expose the cutesy doll in daring and sometimes bizarre vignettes that’ll make you look at dolls in a totally different light.

Of all of these, the Mary Bridge shots are perhaps the most useful to Tacomans, who won’t actually ever see this art unless they or a young relative happen to be sick enough to be admitted to the hospital. I blogged earlier about this work, which is Northwest in theme and vaguely ocean-based, including mosaic murals by Jennevieve Schlemmer and Mauricio Robalino, glass by Diane Hansen and Native Northwest art by Shaun Peterson. The one work you can see without even going in is the skyway window full of blown glass bubbles by the Hilltop Artists (visible from the emergency drop-off if you walk underneath). Even so, it’s still worth seeing up close in a photo to spot the cute glass sea-creatures hidden in the floats like a “Where’s Waldo” picture.

Chris Britt, "Bookends at the George W. Bush Library." Image courtesy Lynn Di Nino.
Chris Britt, “Bookends at the George W. Bush Library.” Image courtesy Lynn Di Nino.

Chris Britt is an editorial cartoonist for the Illinois Times of Springfield, Illinois, and has been syndicated since 1991. His award-winning work skewers politicians and public figures, pointing out the ironies of gay marriage, the gun debate, presidential illiteracy and more with goofy characters and detailed sketching. He’ll present “Slinging Ink: The Life of an Editorial Cartoonist.”

The third in the Tripod trio is LaVonne Sallee of Marquam, Oregon, otherwise known as the “Barbie Lady” for her extremely inventive art installations deconstructing the skinny, boringly-beautiful doll and reinventing her as a hairy tree-hugger, a topless Halloween angel, a bag lady, a circus clown, the White Witch, a prehistoric warrior, Lady Gaga and even Jesus.
She picks up material for her ‘altered Barbies’ from yard sales and thrift stores and lets her imagination go wild with clay, plaster, paint and more.

Even more cool is the fact that she’s the sister of Tacoma concrete-art diva Lynn Di Nino, co-organizer of the Tripod series and a quirky found-media artist in her own right.

The Tripod Show runs 7-8:30 p.m. May 17. Donation $5. Madera Furniture Company, 2210 Court A., Tacoma. 235-572-1218, maderawoodworking.com Read more »


Aki Sogabe cuts serene beauty from paper at Asia Pacific Cultural Center

Aki Sogabe, "Riverbank." Courtesy image.
Aki Sogabe, “Riverbank.” Courtesy image.

It’s an ironic place to display immaculately beautiful art about stunningly beautiful places – a low-slung, badly-lit hallway about five feet wide. But on the other hand, hanging Aki Sogabe’s blossom-filled papercuts at the Asia Pacific Cultural Center is definitely appropriate, because in her meticulous, gorgeous work Sogabe exemplifies the APCC spirit: Northwesterners with Asian heritage mixing their traditions with their locale.

Just up in the APCC gallery (read hallway) and showing through June, with an artist reception next Thursday, Sogabe’s show traverses 26 of her originals and reproduction papercuts, or kiri-e. Begun in China, this ancient art form first inspired Sogabe when she was in middle school, but she only got serious about it when she moved to Washington from Singapore in 1978. Cutting with an X-acto knife, the Bellevue-based Sogabe works with both black and white cuts, occasionally gluing onto colored paper for a watercolored-print effect.

Sogabe’s work inevitably invites comparison to the Northwest’s other beloved papercutter, Nikki McClure. But where McClure uses her faces and composition to tell a narrative of nostalgia, wry appreciation or just earthy living, Sogabe’s work stays in a purely aesthetical plane. With a very Japanese appreciation of simple beauty, she cuts rivers, mountains, flowers, birds and cats, making their visual appeal the hero of the story.

The best works at APCC are in a quietly minimalistic vein: “The River,” where flowing white paper curves over a background fading from teal to baby blue, with almost tangibly feathery, dangling maple leaves; or “Hummingbird,” framed in the center of the picture by delicate black leaves. Read more »