Thursday, May 14, 2009


Nicholas Nyland’s Objects of the Mind

published in the Weekly Volcano, May 14, 2009
pictured: untitlled watercolor by Nicholas Nyland

“When asked to describe my work, I usually answer, ‘Abstract,’“ says Nicholas Nyland. “Unfortunately, I’ve found that that answer is a great way to stop a conversation dead in its tracks.”

He’s talking about what he calls “Abstraction’s dumbness,” which he confesses is why he’s drawn to it.

Nyland’s show at mineral consists of one ambitious three-dimensional work and about a dozen smaller and more modest wall hanging paintings and sculptures. The more ambitious piece is a painted papier-mâché sculpture called "Crucible." It is a fire pit, rough and rock-like, it sits on the floor and stands about three feet high and equal distance in diameter. It is painted in blobs of various colors on the outside and in brilliant blobs of fuchsia and yellow on a stark white surface inside. The interior glows like fire, and Nyland says people automatically approach it and extend their hands as if warming them over a fire pit. I know I did. It’s almost impossible to resist.

The smaller works consists of watercolors, some on paper and some on canvas; some glazed ceramic works and one hanging sculpture made of something called paper clay, which I have never heard of. They are all abstract, and the artist’s primary consideration seems to be displacement in forms in space. The best of these, to my way of thinking, are delicate little watercolors with multicolored bands around the edges and open white space in the middle. The colors are brilliant and thin. The wet media is applied loosely and allowed to soak into the paper.

Some of his works on paper are done on ripped paper that is hung from the wall from ropes or chains. One of the most intriguing of these is "Rope of Eight Paintings" — which, as the title implies, is a group of eight little watercolor paintings on torn paper; in this case hung from moose antlers. Personally, I think it would have been much more effective if they had been dangled in front of the blank wall. I think the antlers conflict with the form and color of the paintings and destroy the integrity of the piece.

Most of Nyland’s work are simple and unpretentious, and very pleasant to the eye.

After seeing this show I stopped by Grand Impromptu Gallery to see their latest group show, "Feels Like Home," featuring Peter Serko, photographer, with guest artist Margo Macdonald, tapestry artist. This is a large show with a range of work tastefully displayed — paintings, photographs, sculpture, taspestry and more. Also included are works by Grand Impromptu’s member artists Bill Colby, Heather Cornelius, Becky Frehse, Bea Geller, Mirka Hokkanen, Faith Hagenhofer, Dorothy McCuistion, LeeAnn Seaburg Perry and Shirley Benton.

Both shows are enjoyable.

[mineral, Objects of the Mind, noon-5 p.m., Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, and by appointment, 301 Puyallup Ave., Tacoma, 253.250.7745,]

[Grand Impromptu, Feels Like Home, 4-8 p.m. Thursday, noon-8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 2-6 p.m. Sunday, through May 30, 608 South Fawcett., Tacoma, 253.572,9232,]

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