Thursday, June 3, 2010

Neddy time

Annual fellowship competition nominees

Published in the Weekly Volcano, June 2, 2010

2010 Neddy nominees in painting: Margie Livingston, Joey Veltkamp, Ken Kelly and Matthew Offenbacher. Photo courtesy of

It's Neddy time again. Every year I look forward to the Neddy show at Tacoma Art Museum, and every year I'm just a little bit disappointed. But along with the disappointment comes exhilaration because year after year the Neddy nominees seem to be split between some of the best artists in the Northwest and some of the most overrated.

Among past winners who have definitely deserved the honor and whose work I am always grateful for an opportunity to see are Michael Spafford, Juan Alonso, Joseph Park and Randy Hayes.

One of the things I'm most conflicted about is that they nominees and winners are nearly always Seattle artists. It's as if South Sound artists are not real artists but just provincial dilettantes and we should be grateful to TAM for giving us an opportunity to see these real big-city artists.

If we suspend our T-town xenophobia for a moment we can see that there's a lot of truth in the previous statement. Art thrives where there is a large community of artists who can stimulate and influence each other, and there's a lot more of that in Seattle than there is in Tacoma. On the other hand, there's a lot more pretentious crap up there too. The Neddy gives us a chance to see the hot up-and-coming artists, and maybe we have to take the bad with the good.

So what is the Neddy? From the TAM Web site: "The Neddy Artist Fellowship was established in 1996 as memorial to Robert E. (Ned) Behnke (1948 - 1989) to recognize his contributions to the Northwest artistic community. The two $15,000 Fellowships are awarded annually to Northwest artists who demonstrate artistic excellence, innovation, unique vision, and a passionate commitment to their art and community."

This year's nominees in painting are Ken Kelly, Margie Livingston, Matthew Offenbacher and Joey Veltkamp. The nominees for glass are Sabrina Knowles and Jenny Pohlman, Dante Marioni, Richard Marquis and Marvin Oliver. Offenbacher and Veltkamp are probably the most well-known of the painters, while Marioni is the glass artist most Tacomans are likely to be familiar with.

The exhibition will begin with a free opening celebration Saturday, June 5, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., to be followed by a party at Hotel Murano, where you can enjoy a cocktail, mingle with the artists and admire the hotel's art collection.

Wednesday, June 9, at 10:30 a.m. there will be a talk by curator Rock Hushka and a tour of the exhibition.

Watch for my review in this column next week.
Neddy Artist Fellows 2010

June 5-Aug. 22, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. third Thursday, $8-$9, opening celebration June 5, 6:30-9 p.m.
Tacoma Art Museum, 1701 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma

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