Friday, January 18, 2013

Another postcard show

The Weekly Volcano, Jan. 17, 2013

"My Kind of Place. A MouseHole" by Susan Emley
Last year’s postcard show at South Puget Sound Community College was a huge success so they’re doing it again. This one does not seem quite as good, but maybe it’s just that the novelty has worn off.

Last year’s theme was “Wish you were here,” and there were a lot of clever and funny takeoffs on that well-worn sentiment. This year the theme is “My kind of place.” The crop of postcard-size art this year doesn’t play on the theme so much. Rather, it is a somewhat random collection of 239 paintings, drawings, collages, and even some three-dimensional work. Most of them don’t even pretend to be postcards but are simply artworks of a particular size. (Before going any further I need to explain that none of them are identified by media, so when I mention media I’m describing what they appear to be.) 

One fun piece that does comment on the theme is by Gina Thompson. It features two circles that, in context, appear to be big, round cartoonish breasts. Plastered across them is the word “Censored,” and at the top are the words “Not my kind of place. Extending the big-boobs theme, Thompson has another one that has very large boobs with burlesque pasties extending three-dimensionally out from the card — the boobs, not just the pasties.

There are some excellent works of art and some very amateurish ones. I get the feeling that whoever chose the pieces picked everything that was submitted. Roxanne Rants and Patrick Cavendish, as typical examples, are showing drawings and watercolors of scenes that look like they were done by a 8-year-old kid. For all I know, Rants and Cavendish may be children. There are far too many such weak and uninspiring works.

On the other hand, there are some excellent works. 

Becky Knold, whose work stood out in the recent Drawn to Abstraction show at SPSCC, has three small abstract paintings that are dark and moody with a richness of texture and color beyond what is normally expected of such work. Barbara Young is also showing dark and richly textured pieces that are a joy to look at. Her works are all relief sculpture in wood and metal. I’d love to see these blown up to massive proportions.

Charlie Keck’s five entries are slick and beautiful photographs of a type you might expect to see in a glossy magazine. Also showing photographs is Joe Batt, whose manipulated photos or photo-collages sport brilliant colors with energetic marks drawn into the photos. 

Jeanne Hamilton’s collage and watercolors display odd cropping and unusual points of view. All but the cat drawing, which is like about a million other cat pictures.

Barlow Palminteri is showing a suite of studio scenes that are like his large and well-known acrylic paintings, but the painting is looser with fewer details, and apparently not just because of the size, because I saw a recent painting of his in a show at Tacoma Community College that was also done in this looser style. If this is a new direction in his painting he needs to develop it further or go back to his earlier style.

The big surprise in this show for me was how much I liked Susan Emley’s three silly cat and dog paintings. The gallery invites people to vote for their favorites, and I voted for one of hers.
Postcards will be sold in a month-long silent auction. Bidding through 7 p.m. during the closing reception on Friday, Feb. 15. 

[South Puget Sound Community College, My Kind of Place…a Fine Art Postcard, through Feb. 15, Monday-Thursday, noon-4 p.m., and by appointment, closed Jan. 21, 2011 Mottman Rd. SW. Olympia, 360.596.5527.]

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