|Becky Frehse in her studio|
Becky Frehse has been a fixture on the Tacoma art scene for as long as I’ve been writing about that scene, and even longer. I first became aware of her in relation with work she did in collaboration with the late Louise Williams, some delicate, sensitive and loving drawings of children, if my fading memory serves me right.
|"Scherzo for Goldfish and Violin 22x12 acrylic on wood|
Over the years she has created art in so many different styles or themes that I tend to think of her as the Gerhard Richter of Washington. I remember a piece in a group show at Tacoma Art Museum that somewhat like a doll house diorama combined with a box of goodies a la Joseph Cornell. And it seems like she’s been in just about every group show at Tacoma Community College with paintings and assemblages and even once a series of documentary photographs of a man refining salt in Sichuan Province, China. Visits to China have played a large role in her art. So has music, which seems to be the strongest theme in her more recent work.
|"Ellensburg Nocturne" 2014 36x42 oil and acrylic on canvas|
About three years ago she had a show called Reconfigured - a Collaboration in what was called Gallery 301, the space next door to the old Mineral Gallery. This show, a collaboration with sculptor Jane Kelsey-Mapel was filled with sculptures of cowboys and circus performers, and featured a large assemblage by Frehse called "Seeking Center" with flying birds suspended from the ceiling and a strange doll in the center of an equally strange landscape.
Most recently I visited her studio during Tacoma’s November artists’ studio tours, and I was deeply impressed with a few large paintings with assemblage or collage elements (whichever label best describes these works may be up to the viewer; I prefer to think of them as paintings with objects embedded or stuck on). These paintings are shimmering, heavily textured and quite beautiful. They make me want to reach in and feel everything with my hands. The paint application is like rich icing on a cake and the connected objects are like encrusted jewels.
Music is a strong theme in much of her more recent work, and the work itself is musical in the sense of objects dancing rhythmically across the surface and playing with color harmonics.
Frehse says of her recent work, “Work continues with musical ideas; mostly thinking of the composition as a musical score to be ‘read’ in some way. I'm especially engaged in the vigorous reticulation of the painting's surface with lots of modeling paste texture, etc. And then, of course color relationships as the ‘score’ moves from movement to movement. Sometimes I embed or add actual musical instrument parts—especially for installations like Music Box that I did for the Woolworth Windows this year.”
She will have three pieces in the TCC show called "Found Photos" in January.
Alec, I appreciate your keen eye and perceptive comments about my work and studio history. Thanks for including me in your blog!
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