Thursday, January 10, 2013

Hall of the Gods

Greek and Roman Mythology exhibition at TCC

reviewed by Alec Clayton

for the Weekly Volcano, Jan. 10,2013


Prometheus Bound, charcoal by Ron Hinson, 40" x 30"

Urban Leda, charcoal on cardboard box, by
Melinda Liebers Cox

Pan and the Three Graces, oil on screen, by William Turner
Saturn Devouring his Son, pastel, by Ric Hall and Ron Schmidt
The Greek and Roman Mythology exhibition at Tacoma Community College is outstanding. The operative word is strength — depicted strength of character, purpose and ideology; beauty and strength in the human body, and strong drawing and composition. There is also a lot of humor and wisdom in the way these contemporary South Sound artists react to ancient myths.

There are a few bland pieces, and I can find fault in even some of the best pieces. For instance, Marsha Glazière’s “Wingless Victory aka The Finish Line,” probably the most striking and powerful piece in the show, has an illustrational quality to the drawing of the face and hand that dilutes its strength. But there’s too much of greatness here to dwell on minor shortcomings. 

So I praise these outstanding artists, starting with the aforementioned “Wingless Victory,” a knockout acrylic and mixed-media relief painting based on the ancient “Nike of Samothrace,” a Greek statue by an unknown artist circa 190 BC. The sure and sensitive drawing, the lyrical lines of the woman’s torso and the seamless manner in which the artist transitions from painting and drawing to relief sculpture is breathtaking. The powerful thrust of the running figure epitomizes speed even more emphatically than does the flowing robes and wings of the original. This is one of two excellent works by Glazière in this show.

Adjacent to this is a wonderful drawing by Melinda Liebers Cox called “Urban Leda.” It is a contemporary version of “Leda and the Swan” with a crow instead of a swan perched on the hip of a reclining nude. The figure is strong and sensual, and the drawing displays both strong lines and sensitive shading. It is drawn on a flattened corrugated cardboard box, and the natural property of the ribbed corrugation is used to create nice textural effects.

Speaking of great drawing, Ron Hinson has included three large charcoal drawings: “Birth of Adonis,” “Prometheus Bound” and “Sisyphus.” These are among the most powerfully executed charcoal drawings you’ll ever see, with wonderfully flowing gestural marks, rich blacks and delicately teetering balance between figure and ground. 

I really enjoyed looking at Sharon Styer’s two photographs, “Waiting” and “Escape.” Both are photographs of statues in the Metropolitan Museum of Art with Hopper-like compositions.

I was also impressed with the lovely red contours in the figures in William Turner’s “Pan and the Three Graces,” oil paint on a folding screen. The lines are lyrical and the red accents peeking out from around black figure on a gray background are like burning embers in a dying campfire.

Margaret Doty’s “The Marriage of Pandora and Narcissus” is sweet, frilly and feminine — not the kind of thing I normally enjoy, but I like this one a lot. It is a wedding cake, square on the bottom, probably made from a box incrusted with ceramic, with tiles, beads, and flowers. The top layer is open and inside is a candy-red heart. I see it as a lampoon of sweetness.

Finally, as usual, I enjoyed the pieces by Ric Hall and Ron Schmidt, the team I have often written about that collaboratively creates amazingly surrealistic pastel drawings. They have four works in this show. All are very dark, mysterious and threatening in a humorous way — most noticeable is their striking version of Goya’s “Saturn Devouring his Son.”

There will be a panel discussion in the gallery Jan. 16 from 5-6 p.m., and each of the artists will give individual talks throughout the run of the show. A complete schedule of talks can be found at

[Tacoma Community College, Juried Local Art Exhibition, noon to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, through April 19, Building 5A, entrance off South 12th Street between Pearl and Mildred, Tacoma.]

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