Friday, December 27, 2013

Selected photos by Mary Randlett

 The Weekly Volcano, Dec. 26, 2013

"Cloud Form Number 1, September 1998" by Mary Randlett.
If we can trust the evidence of the past three months, Salon Refu in Olympia is now one of the best art galleries between Seattle and Portland. And Mary Randlett is the most celebrated photographer in the Pacific Northwest.

Recognized as an outstanding landscape photographer and celebrated for her marvelous sensitivity to the unique Northwest light, Randlett is one of the few surviving members of the Northwest School; she has shot portraits of all the great artists from Morris Graves, Kenneth Callahan and Guy Anderson to Mike Spafford, and has been represented in some of the best museums.

Now a large selection on her landscape photographs is on display at Salon Refu — black and white photos that show an unerring eye for light and the subtleties of gray tone and the ability to capture the perfect moment: when the sun lines up with a silhouetted tree or rock or when a shadow highlights a fish in shallow water.

Artist and friend Jeffree Stewart wrote of her photographs, “They’re quiet, like mist, revealing light that moves over waters dark as ink.”

In looking at her pictures at Salon Refu I noticed that she has a particular penchant for finding the single, isolated image like a tree on top of a cliff with nothing else around. If we were to step back for a wider view we may see many other trees, but in her photo that one tree stands alone in quiet beauty.

You see it in the single dark log lying across ripples of water in “Shoalwater Bay” or in an untitled photo from July1999 with the aforementioned single naked tree standing on top of a ridge on Mount Rainier where a snow plow has recently pass through, or in a fish on its side underwater framed by shadows of trees on the bank in a photographed titled “Spawned Out Humpy.” The fish looks dead and ghost-like.

In “Teal Slough Esturary” small islands of mud in shallow water look like alligators.

“Lunar Halo” presents a dramatic picture of a halo around the moon behind a tree on the horizon — another example of her ability to find the single image isolated in a larger landscape.

These are but a handful of the many outstanding photographs in this show
[Salon Refu, Thursday-Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. through Jan. 5, 114 N. Capitol Way, Olympia, 360-280-3540.]

Friday, December 20, 2013

Foundation of Art at Fulcrum

The Weekly Volcano, Dec. 19, 2013

Installation shot of Foundation of Art exhibition

“Between Wolf and Moon” by Shaun Peterson
A dozen plus one of Tacoma’s most well-known artists are represented in the Sixth Annual Greater Tacoma Community Foundation of Art Award Exhibit with a variety of prints, drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures. It’s a cornucopia of every imaginable style and media that can be tastefully crammed into the small Fulcrum Gallery, and not a dull piece in the show.

Artists included in the show are: Sean Alexander, Beautiful Angle, Laurie Cinotto, Scott Haydon, Ellen Ito, Chris Jordan, Nicholas Nyland, Chandler O'Leary, Shaun Peterson, Juliette Ricci, Holly Senn, Kenji Stoll, and Britton Sukys. The plus one is this year’s award winner Shaun Peterson with a stunning and elegant wood and etched glass wall piece called “Between Wolf and Moon,” a Native American legend stylistically symbolized in a work that artfully combines traditional and contemporary styles.

Appropriately Peterson’s work is given a wall all its own in the back gallery. Also in that room is a table filled with posters from Beautiful Angle and Art Chandry (Chandry’s work is another plus).

Among the more striking works is Scott Haydon’s untitled photograph on wrapped canvas of a wide-eyed young boy in a field of tall grass. The lush gray tones and selective focusing in the photograph present a beautiful contrast of sharpness and softness.

Holly Senn’s “Blackbird” is a magnificent nest created of swirling strips of paper cut out of old books and hanging from the ceiling at a slight angle (dare I say beautiful angle?). Like a little tornado whipping through the gallery, it is at once powerful and delicate.
One wall of the front gallery is filled with four Beautiful Angle prints made of a dense overlapping of letters in the richest range of red, brown and black imaginable, showing just how beautiful and emotionally stirring simple block letters printed on a page can be.
Chandler O’Leary’s “Frisko Freeze,” ink and watercolor on paper, is a lovely example of a pop art urban landscape in a style popularized by the photographer Edward Ruscha and by some of David Hockney’s early bright landscapes.

There are also two large, free-standing cloth sculptures created in collaboration by Ito and Nyland that must be seen.

Do yourself a favor and see this show when you can. Gallery hours are limited.

[Fulcrum Gallery, Foundation of Art Award, noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday and Fridays and by appointment, through Jan. 10, 1308 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma, 253.250.0520]

Friday, December 13, 2013

Dennis DeHart’s Confluences at TESC

The Weekly Volcano, Dec. 12, 2013

You are invited to travel through the byways of Eastern Washington, Oregon and Idaho with photographer Dennis DeHart at Galerie Fotoland at The Evergreen State College. DeHart, a TESC graduate who teaches photography at Washington State University, has trained his lens on many of the out-of-the-way places in the Northwest to provide an insider’s look at the oddities and the beauty of the region and a look into the devastating effects of industry on once pristine lands.

He approaches his photographic journey with an artist’s eye for color and composition and with obvious sympathy, and even reverence, for the land and its people. Not to mention a quirky sense of humor.
His photographs capture eccentric roadside attractions like a larger-than-life statue of Paul Bunyan in front of a high school or the interior of a bar with dollar bills tacked all over the walls, each bill written upon and signed; or the outer wall of an Elks Lodge with  two boarded-up windows and in each window a painting of an elk —this latter image is like one of Rene Magritte’s paintings of paintings in which you see a landscape painting on an easel set as part of the landscape it is a painting of.  That has become an overused trope, but it was brand new when Magritte did it, and it was brilliant of DeHart to find it in nature and capture it with his camera.

There are haunting images of environmental waste such as a picture of a wrecking yard in front of a paper mill with an unspoiled mountain range on the horizon. Hundreds of cars and trucks fill a hillside in this picture that is aesthetically beautiful but which pictures an environmental horror. Lining the top of a hillside are bu7mper-to-bumper yellow school buses like cars on a freight train.

Also haunting is an image of animal bones in a dry-grass clearing surrounded by sage brush and a similar image of hundreds of clay skeet pigeons discarded in a field of patchy snow. The orange pigeons look like strange mushrooms growing in the snowy field.

And then there is the photo of a clumsily painted and partially painted-over mural of a headless mountain man shooting a bear.

These and many other images are part of a show called Confluences. Galerie Fotoland is located on the first floor of the Daniel J. Evans Library at TESC.

[The Evergreen State College Gallery, open during regular school hours, through Jan. 14, 2700 Evergreen Parkway NW, Library 1st floor, Olympia]

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Fun with Lyle the Crocodile

Kate Ayers and Ted Ryle

The children’s play Lyle the Crocodile performed by Olympia Family Theater is fun for children of all ages as proven on the night we saw it by the rapt attention of children in the audience and by the laughter of adults.

It is a musical based on two children’s books by Bernard Waber: The House on East 88th Street and Lyle, Lyle Crocodile. Set in New York City in 1950, the Primm family moves into a new house and discovers, much to their horror, a crocodile in their bathtub. Their fear and disgust does not last long, because Lyle the Crocodile (played by Kate Ayers) immediately proves to be funny, joyful and engaging. He has the ability to know what humans want and give it to them. The Primms soon accept him as a part of their family, and he becomes a special friend to their son, Joshua (Mandy Ryle). Their neighbor, however, the aptly named Mr. Grumps (Ted Ryle), does not take to Lyle at all. Even though Lyle is super sensitive to the feelings of humans and able to melt even the coldest of hearts, it takes him a long, long time to make friends with Mr. Grumps.

Grumps, who owns a department store and the nastiest cat on East 88th Street, ships Lyle off to the zoo (animal prison). But the Primms, with the help of Hector P. Valenti (Eric Crawford), pull off a prison break.

Kate Ayers and Eric Crawford

In the course of the action there is rope jumping, ice skating, a parade, and lots of singing and dancing by a talented cast. Ayers is a mime without white face in her interpretation of Lyle. She never speaks with her voice, but speaks volumes with her gestures. Crawford as Valenti “star of stage and screen” is a kind of circus master of ceremonies and narrator. Crawford has an entertaining way of clapping his hands whenever he says his own name, and he combines a kind of dignified restraint with comic energy. You gotta love the soft shoe dance number he does with Ayers.  

Ted Ryles’ expressions of anger are hilarious — he’s the apotheosis of the nasty guy you love to hate. He plays the part not only as a grumpy old man but as a nerdy grumpy old man with a soft spot in his hard, hard heart. Amanda Stevens plays the uptight and proper Mrs. Nitpicker in a most delightful manner, and she sings beautifully.

Mr. Grumps’ beloved cat is a puppet that is used to great comic effect.

The set designed by Jill Carter is up to her usual high standards, and the set pieces move smoothly and without distraction.

Piano accompaniment by musical director Stephanie Claire is outstanding.

Performances are Thursdays and Fridays at 7 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 1 p.m. with additional 4:30 matinees Dec. 14 and 21, in the black box theater at South Puget Sound Community College’s Kenneth J. Minnaert Center for the Arts, 2011 Mottman Rd. SW. Tickets are $10 for children 12 and younger, $12 military, $16 adults, available at, by phone at 360-753-8586 or at the Washington Center box office. More information at

Today is Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day

"This Saturday marks the third annual Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day. Begun by author Jenny Milchman, whose debut novel, Cover of Snow (Ballantine), comes out in January, the day was her way of trying to encourage other parents to share the joy of being in a bookstore with their children."  Read the article in Publisher's Weekly.

More than 500 bookstores are participating in Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day including in Olympia: Orca Books, 509 E 4th Ave and Half Price Books Outlet at Cooper Point Pavilion, 1520 Cooper Point Rd. SW.

Annie at Tacoma Musical Playhouse

The News Tribune, Dec. 6, 2013

Madison Watkins as Annie and Mark Rake-Marona as Daddy Warbucks. Photo by Kat Dollarhide
Tacoma Musical Playhouse’s holiday offering is the perennial favorite, Annie. It is only the second show to be presented on the completely renovated stage with its improved sound system. The new stage is much larger, making it possible for more elaborate sets. The set for this production was designed by Technical Director Bruce Haasl. It is stunning, with large and easily moved set pieces that change from the ratty interior to Mrs. Hannigan’s orphanage to a Hooverville camp to Daddy Warbuck’s palatial home to a radio station, all with the silhouetted New York skyline in the background beautifully lighted by John Chenault.

Annie is the feel-good story of how a neglected but hopeful orphan girl melts the cold heart of a ruthless industrialist during the great depression, with comic relief provided by a pair of neer-do-well con artists, Rooster Hannigan (Eric Clausell) and his floozy girlfriend, Lily (Kathy Kluska).

Loosely based on the comic strip “Little Orphan Annie” by Harold Gray, the musical touches lightly upon many of the major political and social issues of the day, including President Roosevelt suddenly hitting upon the ideas for the New Deal thanks to Annie’s optimism. The story is overly simplistic – such happy hobos and orphans – but it is emotionally uplifting. 

The title character is played in alternating performances by two seventh graders. Madison Watkins is a student at Harbor Ridge in Gig Harbor. She was recently seen in The Sound of Music and as the young Cosette in Les Misérables. Julia Wyman goes to Lighthouse Christian School. She was also in The Sound of Music and was most recently in the Seattle Opera Youth Chorus performances of Our Earth and Turandot.

Veteran actor Sharry O’Hare in the role of Mrs. Hannigan lights up the stage in one of the best performances I’ve seen from her. This is a demanding role, and O’Hare plays it with confidence and panache. It’s as if the character created the actor instead of the other way around. In her interpretation, Mrs. Hannigan is a saucy and sexy old lady with a heart as hard as steel. Her every move is comic perfection, and her singing and dancing is delightful.

Also outstanding is Clausell as the irrepressible Rooster. It helps that he has arms and legs that are so long they seem to stretch from one side of the big new stage to the other. His dancing and shuffling with flapping limbs on the wonderful song, “Easy Street” with Lily and Hannigan is hilarious and classic.

Another veteran actor, Mark Rake-Marona (seen in countless TMP shows) plays Daddy Warbucks. In some versions Warbucks comes across as mean and heartless at first and gradually becomes more likable, but Rake-Marona plays him as kindhearted from the start, despite being a man who gets his name from war profiteering and who is totally out of touch with the real world.

Warbuck’s trusty assistant, Grace Farrell, is played with restraint and class by Leischen Moore, who sings beautifully.

The night I saw the show Warbuck’s butler was played by the director and choreographer, Jon Douglas Rake, who was not listed in the program as was apparently filling in which he did nicely.

There was also a chorus of orphan girls who were sweet and loveable and who sang and danced admirably on big production numbers like “Hard Knock Life” and “Little Girls.”

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday through Dec. 22
WHERE: Tacoma Musical Playhouse at The Narrows Theatre, 7116 Sixth Ave., Tacoma
TICKETS: $20-$29
INFORMATION: 253-565-6867,