Monday, October 1, 2012

The best juried art exhibition yet

The Weekly Volcano, Sept. 27, 2012

“Centrifugal Forces”by Don Haggerty
reviewed by Alec Clayton
The 10th annual Juried Local Art Exhibition at The Gallery at Tacoma Community College is the best of the lot. There are a lot of familiar artist in this show, including Lois Beck, Bill Colby, Ron Hinson, Dorothy McCuistion, Jason Sobattka, C.J. Swanson and others. There are a few pieces in the show that are nice but not exceptional, and I was not overly impressed with any of the sculpture, but most of the two-dimensional work (including McCuistion’s accordian-fold and pop-up books) are excellent.
The most eye-catching are Don Haggerty’s “Centrifugal Forces,” Hinson’s large painted construction and Swanson’s “Structural Thinking.” Also Barlow Palminteri’s “Cui Bono.”

Haggerty’s painting is a Pop Art diptych of a silhouetted dancing woman. I’m usually rather disdainful of diptychs and triptychs because they tend to be gimmicky and could be just as effective if done on a single panel, but Haggerty employs a nice balance of slight variations in similar figures here and a strong use of complementary yellow and purple balanced by neutral tones. It’s like an Andy Warhol silkscreen but sweeter and more playful.

Swanson’s large painting was off-putting at first glance because it seemed jumbled and incoherent, but the longer I looked at it the more I began to think it was one of the top two or three pieces in the show. I like her use of Escher-like spatial illusion, and her generous use of white gives the painting a sparkle like sunshine on snow.

Hinson’s large painted constructions are always exciting to look at with their combinations of geometric and Art Nouveau forms, amazing textures and interesting color combinations. The one in this show is predominantly yellow with intricate stippling patterns.

Palminteri’s entire oeuvre comprises self-portraits in his studio, and occasionally portraits of friends and family, with a kind of funhouse-mirror patterning of paintings on easels and propped against walls, and scenes seen through doorways and windows and reflected in mirrors. In this one his own images is repeated, once large and expanding forward like a Carravagio and once small in the background with some terrific brushwork on the face. I could spend hours studying this painting.

JoAnne Green’s untitled graphite drawing depicts two robed and hooded figures embracing, perhaps whispering or comforting one another. There’s a strong sense of mystery and some very nice detailed drawing.

I like Jeffrée Stewart’s “The Dream of St . Francis in the Wilderness.” Swirling patterns are reminiscent of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” The only drawback is that it would have been better if he’d left out the narrative element of the figures of a man and an animal.

For a long time I’ve admired the work of David Noah Giles, the artist formerly known as David N. Goldberg. His two little paintings in this show are not his best works; they are overworked and not quite resolved. But there’s a lot going on in these two canvases that is exciting. The same can be said for Becky Knold’s entry. Not her best work, and not typical, but still mighty fine.

This is definitely a show worth seeing for a great overview of what’s going on with South Sound artists.

[Tacoma Community College, Juried Local Art Exhibition, noon to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, through Oct. 26, Building 5A, entrance off South 12th Street between Pearl and Mildred, Tacoma.]

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