Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Pruzan Collection part II

The Weekly Volcano, Aug. 8, 2013

Robert Colescott, You Have Such Beautiful Hair My Darling, 1988. Acrylic on canvas, Overall: 14 × 16 inches. Collection of Herb and Lucy Pruzan.

My review of Creating the New Northwest: Selections from the Herb and Lucy Pruzan Collection at Tacoma Art Museum (The Weekly Volcano June 20) barely touched the surface of this large, varied and exciting exhibition.

Paul Havas, Untitled, 1980. Oil on canvas, Overall: 48 × 64 inches. Collection of Herb and Lucy Pruzan.
I said nothing about Fay Jones’ large acrylic painting “Big Fish—Small Pond.” But what a strangely fabulous piece of work it is, as are most of her paintings. For more than 40 years Jones has been creating an ever-growing iconography of figures and stories in paint that defy explanation. They are bright and colorful and combine many styles and influences with imagery from all over the world and from times periods from ancient to modern. “Big Fish—Small Pond” pictures a boy with white face and white shirt, red shorts and yellow legs and a hand that disappears and can be seen only as a contour line against a giant red fish. Is the fish being prepared for dinner? It is standing on a blue plate (a blueplate special?) but appears to be very much alive. Her narrative content is never crystal clear but entices viewer interpretation, and her flat, childlike painting is delightful.
Michael Burns, Family Portrait, 1970. Acrylic on canvas, Overall: 52 × 52 inches. Collection of Herb and Lucy Pruzan.

Another simple and striking image I wasn’t able to mention in my first review is Sherry Markovitz’s “Double Donk,” a painting of two donkey’s heads, one in brown on a light blue-green background and one in white on a red background. The repetition and classical balance lend power to this image.

I did mention Paul Havas’ untitled oil painting in my previous review, but would like to say more about it. It is a recognizable interior scene looking out a window to a bright blue exterior. Despite the clear subject matter this is essentially an abstract painting with oddly tilted perspective and a precarious balance of architectonic forms and a clash of pastel and acidic colors. It’s an excellent painting.

Paul Horiuchi’s “Blue in Transition #2” is similar in form to the Havas painting but it is purely abstract with delicate coloring and three softly floating rectangles. It’s like the love child of Joseph Albers and Mark Rothko.

Another simple abstract painting with rectangular shapes on a simple ground is William Ivey’s untitled painting with a blue rectangle resting atop and almost black on. It follows the same abstract principles as the Horiuchi but the heavy impasto paint application is lush as icing on a cake.

Michael Burns’ “Family Portrait” is a pop art takeoff on a typical family photo with children perched on mama and papa’s knees. Their heads are all white with barely visible faces drawn in what looks like graphite. The colors in their clothing dance across the canvas in a most entertaining way.

These are but a smattering of the more than 100 artworks from the collection of Herb and Lucy Pruzan on display through Oct. 6. That’s plenty of time to get there, but don’t let the time slip up on you. This is a fabulous collection that you’ll probably never get another opportunity to see.

 [Tacoma Art Museum, Creating the New Northwest: Selections from the Herb and Lucy Pruzan Collection, Wednesdays–Sundays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Third Thursdays 5–8 p.m. through Oct. 6, adult $10, student/military/senior (65+) $8, family $25 (2 adults and up to 4 children under 18), 5 and younger free, Third Thursdays free from 5-8 pm., 253.272.4258,]

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