Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Summer Dragons

Convergence of the Summer Dragons at B2

The Weekly Volcano, Aug. 9, 2012
by Alec Clayton

What a wonderful title for an art exhibition! The word “convergence” in the title must refer to a bringing together of Eastern and Western traditions. Asian and American artists show works influenced by the Japanese art of sumi with both Western and Eastern traditions in landscape and abstraction. 

Featured are the works of Faye Clerget, Bill Colby, Fumiko Kimura, Sheri Neville and Jun Kang Ye.

"Beautiful Buddha," digital photograph by Sheri Neville 
Following on the heels of the bombastic Ric Hall and Ron Schmitt show, this one is quiet, contemplative and restful. Where the Hall and Schmitt was like a jaw-droppingly surrealistic movie this show is like a book of lyric poetry to be savored in a quiet mood.

The first works to be seen as you enter the gallery are a group of three Chinese brushstroke landscapes by Jun Kang Ye. They consist of horizontal sweeps of tree lines and buildings set against the horizon, mostly in muted tones of gray (ink washes, I presume) with occasional spots of color. These are nice little paintings, but a little too stiff and formal for my taste. The better of these is one called “Red Bridge,” which has looser brushstrokes except for on the bridge — the only spot of color — which lacks the delightfully impromptu look of the rest of the painting. 

There are about seven more similar paintings by Ye in the back hallway. The best of these is one called “Passage Through Oregon I.”
"Cliffside II," sumi by Bill Colby

Also in the front gallery are three sumi-style paintings by Bill Colby — a very well known name in the Tacoma art scene. I’ve seen a lot of Colby’s work in print media, but can’t recall if I’ve ever seen any sumi paintings. These are excellent, with a delicate balance between open spaces and density of paint and between abstraction and representation. The best of these is one called “Cliffside II.”

Colby is also showing some of his Helix series prints, which were shown last year at Flow. And there are more works from Colby in the back rooms of the gallery including watercolors, sumi and woodblocks. He adds a lot of variety to the show in terms of style as well as media.

Sheri Neville is showing a group of digital photographs of Buddhas which appear to have been computer-manipulated. There are overlapping images and fascinating textures — not literal textures, no bumps or ridges to be felt, but illusory textures so that the images seem to have been projected onto rocks and leaves.

Faye Clerget is showing some sumi and pastel works that have smoothly flowing forms in soft colors that remind me of oil on water in sunshine — very soothing imagery. Clerget also has a group of six sumi watercolors of flowers nice brushwork and balance and placement of figure and ground. And one excellent little ink drawing of a bird’s nest in tree branches that reminds me of a Franz Kline but more delicate.

Finally, Fumiko Kimura has two of the finest works in the show. They are small sumi paintings in the back hall with square and rectangular shapes floating over and within atmospheric swirls of soft black and gray ink. I like the contrasts of hard and soft edges, openness and density. There is controlled energy here.

[B2 Fine Art Gallery, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and till 8 p.m. Third Thursdays, through Sept. 28, 711 St. Helens Avenue, Tacoma, 253.238.5065]

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