Friday, March 21, 2014

Current Work at the Brick House

The Weekly Volcano,
March 20, 2014

"An Assemblage for Rats" by Alan Hopkins

“Floating Island Estates” by Gabriel Brown
The current show at Brick House Gallery is an eclectic selection of current work (all done since 2013) by more than 20 artists including many old friends who have shown often at this and other Tacoma galleries. My overall impression was that there are three or four excellent works and a whole lot that are good but not outstanding.

Bill Colby’s two woodcuts, one with acrylic and one with acrylic and water color, “Stone Wall: Beach 1” and “Sun River,” are excellent — possibly the most accomplished works in the show. Both are simplified, semi-abstract landscapes with the flattened, scraggly look of woodcut illustrations but sparked up with the addition of high-keyed blue, orange and green. In both pieces there are bodies of water, land and sky, and in both clouds are as solid as boulders. Reading too much into these subject-wise would not be the best way to appreciate them. Seen as simple abstract shapes on a flat surface they are exciting yet placid with good color contrasts and a unity of mark-making and directional thrust.

Alan Hopkins’ “An Assemblage for Rats” is intriguing and well-made but not placed well in the gallery. It is an assemblage of wood, something like women’s hosiery filled with unidentifiable materials and hanging heavily beneath a shield-like shape covered with a dense montage of pictures of rats. An artist’s statement says it celebrates something called a “rat rod” from hot rod culture.

Suspended over a coffee table in the back room is Gabriel Brown’s “Floating Island Estates,” a lovely fantasy of little houses on green grass and earth that has been plucked from the ground like roots of dirt. They are made of corrugated cardboard and cut and pasted bits of containers such as milk cartons and cereal boxes and all hang from monofilament line amidst fluffy white clouds made of cotton.

Sharon Styer is represented with a couple of outstanding photographs printed on aluminum. Both “Fog at Thea’s Park” and “Dungeness Spit” are moody and atmospheric scenes in soft sepia tones that capture the look of the Pacific Northwest on a foggy morning just after sunrise (for all I know they could have been taken at noon, but there is an early morning feel to them).

Also likeable is Margo MacDonald’s little tapestry “Ozette River.” It is a peaceful scene of a river mounted on a board that is covered with what appears to be rice paper and angel hair but is listed as cotton and wool.

I also like Richard Turner’s “Virgin Du Guadalupe,” a wall-hanging relief sculpture of conch shell, rivets, pine board, lizard skin and Mexican popsicle sticks. It is a strong, simple and reverent image.

Just a few of the other artists of note in this show are: Jeffree Stewart, Jada Moon, Peter MacDonald and Cathy Fields.
[Brick House Gallery, Third Thursday 5-9 p.m. and by appointment, through March 31, 1123 South Fawcett St., 253.230.4880 or 253.627.0426.]

Photo: “An Assemblage for Rats,” mixed media by Alan Hopkins. Courtesy Brickhouse Gallery.

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