Friday, June 28, 2013

Two tapestry shows

The Weekly Volcano, June 27, 2013

"Mates" by Cecilia Blomberg
Two tapestry shows opened simultaneously in Tacoma. Small Tapestry International 3: Outside the Line at Handforth Gallery in the downtown Tacoma Library is a show of international tapestry artists, which will be on display until Aug. 3. TAPS Contained at Brick House Gallery features the works of local and regional tapestry artists.

I visited the Brick House and will try to get to the Handforth at some point during the run of the show.
There is noth
ing flashy or startling in the Brick House show, but it is a nice showcase of members of Tapestry Artists of Puget Sound featuring such local and area artists as Mary Lane, Julie Rapinoe, Joyce Hayes, Inge Norgaard, Margo MacDonald, Ellen Ramsey, Cecilia Blomberg and others.

I was particularly taken with two pieces by Blomberg.  “Birch Rolls” consists of nine almost floor-to-ceiling strips of white fabric with black bands woven into them to mimic the look of a stand of birch trees. They are hung in front of a window and near a ceiling fan, and they gently move in the wind from the fan. 

Blomberg’s “Mates” would be my choice for best in show if there was a prize. It appears to be a strong abstract painting with references to water. Only upon closer inspection do you see that it is not abstract at all but is clearly a picture of a boat tied to a pier with rippling reflections in the water. It has the effect of a photograph taken at such close range that you can’t see the whole for the parts… and then the whole emerges. As an abstract configuration it has strong contrasts and asymmetrical design.

I also very much like Mary Lane’s “Untitled #40,” a pop-like image of a green striped shirt standing upright as if hung on a line with some kind of sheet or fence in front of it with a subtle tan and white checkerboard pattern. You get the impression that there’s a boy in the shirt and he’s spying on you, but you can’t see his face.

Norgaard’s “Nesting #3” is a splash of brown lines like twigs tossed in the wind with a background of lighter brown with an almost invisible diamond pattern. 

Rapinoe and Hayes are each showing groups of abstract patterns similar to Native American basket-weave patterns that almost move optically. The works of both are similar, the main difference being that Hayes’ colors are shimmering blue and green tones and Rapinoe’s are more muted earth tones.

Another piece that has a strong graphic appeal is Ramsey’s “Awakening 2012,” a large banner-like wall hanging with black stitching that mimics sumi painting. It is energetic and carries a lot of punch, but the flowery background patterns detract and seem contrived.
If you enjoy tapestry you should make an effort to see both shows. Call first for the Brick House show because it is open by appointment only except for during Art Mingle.

[Brick House Gallery, TAPS Contained, Third Thursday and by appointment, 1123 South Fawcett St., 253.230.4880 or 253.627.0426.]

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