Friday, December 14, 2012

High expectations met at B2 Fine Art Gallery in Tacoma

Top artists honored at five-year Foundation of Art Award show

Hard Times Shoe Shine, installation by Gabriel Brown

Blue Moon, glass by Oliver Doriss

By Alec Clayton for the Weekly Volcano December 12, 2012

I had high expectations when previewing the Foundation of Art exhibition at B2 Fine Art, and I was not disappointed. The show featuring works from 40 artists who have been nominated for this prestigious award over the past five years is a good deal edgier than B2's usual offerings, with works by often risky and politically savvy artists, many of whom - fittingly, as it turns out - have had shows at Fulcrum Gallery, which is owned and operated by this year's Foundation of Art Award winner, Oliver Doriss.

As the winner, Doriss receives a $7,500 award and has created a commissioned art piece for the Community Foundation titled "Blue Moon," which was unveiled at the opening night awards ceremony. This piece is quite different from any previous work of his I have seen. Doriss is known for his steampunk-snoglobe-like cities in a bubble and for his cute and creepy baby head cups that are sold in the Museum of Glass gift shop. Quite a departure from these, "Blue Moon," is an elegant and jewel-like piece that balances straight-edge and circular shapes with blue and golden and clear glass forms. It is quite beautiful.

Other past nominees and winners featured in the exhibition include, just to name a few: Gabriel Brown, Jeremy Mangan, R.R. Anderson, Lisa Kinoshita, Lynn Di Nino, Jeremy Gregory, Kyle Dillehay, Maria Jost, Peter Serko, Sean Alexander, Holly Senn and Sharon Styer.

Di Nino is represented by 10 pieces from the "Hostess Survival" series that was shown at Flow Gallery in March. The work takes on extra meaning in light of the recent Hostess closing. Each of the 10 works is presented as if it is an archeological find displayed under glass in a museum. The "glass" is actually cheap plastic packaging and under each are found objects from bygone eras such as a Radio Flyer wagon and a Howdy Doody doll and, of course, lots of preserved-forever Hostess sweets.

I was particularly impressed with Mangan's painting "Heavy Daytime Moon," which depicts a dilapidated farm building with a collapsed roof in a field with a mountain range on the horizon and a giant moon overhead in a vast expanse of incredibly blue sky. This painting is both eerie and beautiful.

Gabriel Brown, a performance artist and shoe cobbler is showing an installation called "Hard Times Shoe Shine" that features a sculpture of Tacoma's Old City Hall that leans like the Tower of Pizza and which he has used in performance pieces shining shoes on the streets. I love the sandy brown finish and the surface painting. A shoeshine sign and paraphernalia stand next to City Hall.

Anderson is represented by a wall of 24 cartoons including a Will Baker campaign poster, a "Weakly Volcano" cover with an Occupy mask and the legend, "What if Tacoma had an alternative weekly?"

Another favorite piece is Kinoshita's little drawing of a horse named "Eight Belles." Kinoshita does wonders with a few lines and makes the horse's hips look like a sensual woman's posterior.

I was also greatly impressed with Jeremy Gregory's macabre and cartoonish sculptural installation "Broken Girl" and with a drawing by Sean Alexander.

I wish I had space to write about many more of the pieces, but I guess you'll just have to get down to B2 and see for yourself.

B2 Fine Art Gallery, Foundation of Art Awards, through Dec. 28, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, till 8 p.m. Third Thursdays, 711 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma, 253.238.5065

No comments: