Friday, June 19, 2015

Riding the Bus and the Elephant

Two exhibitions in one at Tacoma Library

Published in the Weekly Volcano, June 18, 2015

“Chihuly on Bus,” mixed media wall sculpture by Lynn Di Nino. Courtesy the artist
Lynn Di Nino comes up with more unique and often hilarious ideas than you can shake a stick at. Her latest — two shows in one, one curated by Di Nino and the other featuring her sculpture — is a delightful concept but more successful as an idea than as executed. 

Exhibition number one is A Fable, inspired by the parable of the blind men and the elephant. The elephant is a wall-size, cartoon-like drawing in pink with 25 artist-made dolls attached to it, each about six inches tall and standing on a little shelf. The dolls are made by: Becky Frehse, Marita Dingus, Claudia Riedener, Doug Mackey,  John Carlton, Marta Olson, Marsha Conn, Sam Tower, Elayne Vogel, Amy Reeves, Steve LaBerge, Analee Reutlinger, Di Morgan Graves, Eddie Graves, Chocolate Chimpo, Heather Cornelius, Pam Orazem, Kathy Gore-Fuss and Loralin Toney, Karen Perrine, Ann Meersman, KaCe Whitacre, Ruby Re-Usable, Dick Weiss, Jeremy Gregory and Sharon Styer. Most face the elephant on the wall, backs turned to the viewer. On an adjacent wall are statements by the artists explaining the figures and, for most, short essays about their relationship with and feelings toward the city of Tacoma.

LaBerge created a blind man with a cane. He has apparently bumped into the elephant. The Towers must have had the same idea. They also created a blind man with a cane.
Some of the written statements are poetic, and some are humorous. My favorite is from Dingus, who writes “I’m better at making things than I am at using printed words to express myself” — a statement that should probably be a mantra for most artists.

The other part of the show, Riding the Express Bus 594, consists of 14 dolls by Di Nino, each seated in a window seat on the bus. Through the windows we see what the passengers see while riding the bus from Tacoma to Seattle, each scene represented by a color photograph.

The passengers are little clay figures dressed in the kinds of garb one might expect of them. There’s a golfer with a golf bag full of clubs in his lap. Outside his window is the Indian Smoke Shop. At one point the bus passes by Di Nino’s actual house and out the window we see the artist waving from an upstairs window (she must have recruited someone else to take that photo). There’s one called “Peacefulness” that has a woman in a gray hoodie with a picture of a marijuana plant on her back. The view out her window is a placid field and woods. The woman has head-in-hand and appears to be crying.

There’s a woman in black shorts and yellow halter top passing the Weyerhaeuser building, which is slated to move to Seattle. The interesting thing about this woman is that she is facing right while the other 13 sculpted passengers are facing left. I don’t know the significance of that, if any. Maybe she’s on the return trip.

The most I can say about this show is that it is cute and the figures are thought-provoking.

Handforth Gallery at Tacoma Public Library, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays-Saturday, through July 24, 1102 Tacoma Ave. S, Tacoma

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