Thursday, December 9, 2010

Michael Kaniecki at Spaceworks Tacoma

Michael Kaniecki's endless drawing is on display at 1114 Pacific Ave.
Review published in the Weekly Volcano, Dec. 9, 2010

The Spaceworks project continues to show innovative works by some of Tacoma's most interesting artists in some of the town's more interesting (if not always easy to see) venues. One of the more fascinating works in the program comes from Michael Kaniecki, a recent transplant from Moab, Utah, who said he picked Tacoma as his new home on the advice of artists friends in Seattle, who recommended it because Tacoma's art scene is vibrant and exciting. He's right. It is. After 15 years of reviewing art in T-town, I have noticed the scene has exploded in the past few years. And Spaceworks is at the heart of that explosion.

Wearing a coat and gloves with cut-out fingers to work in the unheated space at 1114 Pacific Ave., Kaniecki is creating a large drawing in ink and red-earth pigment that the Spaceworks program is billing as a never ending drawing. At an earlier stage the drawing flowed down and forward toward the window as seen in the photograph pictured here. But now that long scroll has been stood on edge and it weaves horizontally across the space like ocean waves. In front of it similar drawings are seen on other long sheets of paper that have been cut into sections and arranged like a line of cubes, and in front of it smaller drawings are laid out in a straight line on the floor. According to Kaniecki, the installation is complete as it stands, but he keeps on drawing every day. The new drawings, however, are not part of the installation but go back to his studio for possible inclusion in some future installation.

The drawings are gestural and abstract. The primary design element is a repetitive pattern of abstract shapes in a grid that plays out like still images on filmstrips. He could easily rearrange them day by day and thereby create a metamorphosing drawing, but that is apparently not his intention.

The forms within the big drawing, while not intended to represent anything other than shapes and gestural marks, have an architectural or industrial look. Some look like hieroglyphics or schematics for circuitry. Other forms appear more organic and flexible. I recall noticing one section with a floating oblong shape that looked like a pancake tossed in the air with one big twist in the middle.

The artist drapes long sections of a big roll of coated paper across a table and draws pencil guidelines to break it up into evenly spaced grids with three rectangular "frames" on each section. He draws a different form, each repeated three times, in each section. Within the precision and exact planning of each grid are almost identical drawings that are very freely drawn in direct contradiction to their precision.

At least one side of the series of interconnected cubes on the floor looks like an urban street scene. Each shape is an invented and self-contained form that relates to other shapes and to the whole only in visual terms. That is, not in terms of symbolism or meaning or reference but in color, line quality and tone. The interaction of loosely flowing washes, formal structure and delicate line work is that of an accomplished artist at work.

The installation can be seen through the window, and if you spot the artist at work you can tap on the window and he might let you in. Then you can get a better view, and he will gladly talk to you about the work.

Kaniecki's "endless drawing" is one of many works in the ongoing Spaceworks Tacoma project. Others of interest include Alice DiCerto's photographs entitled My America, and Kyle Dillehay's Lines of the Earth (both installations in the Woolworth windows at 11th and Broadway) and Barbara DePirro's vortex plastica at 912 Broadway through Jan. 5.

[Michael Kaniecki, through Jan. 5, Spaceworks Tacoma, 1114 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, website]

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