Monday, February 26, 2018

Student art at University of Puget Sound

by Alec Clayton
Published in the Weekly Volcano, Feb. 22
installation view of the student show, courtesy University of Puget Sound
The 2018 Annual Student Art Show at University of Puget Sound presents the best work from the last two academic years of UPS art classes as chosen by the juror, Tacoma artist Anida Yoeu Ali. The show includes pieces by everyone from first-year students to seniors. The quality of the work varies tremendously. With a few exceptions, the sculpture is much more inventive and of higher quality than the drawings and paintings, which tend toward the more amateurish and less original. Notable exceptions being a figure drawing by Megan Breiter, which is of much higher quality than the bulk of the two-dimensional works in the show; and a couple of Pop Art sculptures — one of a fork lying on the floor. and one of a Pooh Bear:  these two were not of the quality exhibited by the bulk of the sculptures.
I don’t know who teaches sculpture at UPS, but he, she or they must be terrific teachers.
One of the more impressive pieces is a sculpture by Will Books called “Socket Bloom.” Standing on the floor like a large steampunk umbrella that has been cast aside or some kind of time-travel kite. There is a gritty and foreboding character to this piece in steel, canvas and acrylic. Only from certain angles can you see the “handle” of the “umbrella.” Without that clue, it is a purely abstract sculpture with no references beyond itself. 
A wall sculpture by Sam Crookston called “Peeling” has a painterly quality because it is basically flat and rectangular and its surface texture (wood grain) has the look of paint strokes with a variety of directions, all in the same dark charcoal color. As sculpture it is an expressive version of a Donald Judd box. It is constructed of a dozen boxes jammed together side-to-side and top-to-bottom. It is the subtle variations within an almost solid and unvarying shape that makes it so interesting to contemplate. 
Jarett Prince’s “Untitled B” is comprised of six wooden blocks attached on metal rods that project about six inches out from a hexagonal metal frame against the wall. It has the feel of a futuristic clock with too few hours and although it creates the impression of slow and regular movement — tic tok, tic tok — there are no moving parts.
Breiter’s graphite drawing alluded to in the opening paragraph is like a time-lapse photo of a female kick boxer in repetitive motion. The line work is sure and strong, and the shading is soft and atmospheric, with parts of the body in motion, fading smoke-like. Its only problem is that the woman’s head is disproportionately large. 
The only functional piece in the show is a bench by Patrick Johnson in wood and epoxy resin with beautiful wood grain shining through a thick layer of epoxy on the top, which rests on a dark gray arched base that looks like metal even though the wall label says it is wood. 
One of the better graphic works is “Ink” by Mary Ontiveros, a print of a woman seen from behind with arms raised and fingers in her long hair. Her arms and shoulders are tattooed with light blue hieroglyphic images that appear flat, as if printed over the body; yet the straps of her bra go over the tattoos in an intriguing kind of visual trickery. 
There is a lot of good work in this show, making it well worth a trip to the UPS campus. 

2018 Student Art Show, Kittredge Gallery, Monday-Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday noon to 5 p.m., through Feb. 24, 1500 N. Warner St., Tacoma, 253.879.3701

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Bryan Willis's Sophie at Olympia Family Theater

Bryan Willis’s one-act, Sophie, will be performed one show only this Sunday, Feb. 25 at 2 p.m. at Olympia Family Theater.

Willis is the founder of Northwest Playwright’s Alliance and is the author of more than 30 plays including Bicycle Noir - A Love Story On Wheels, the incredibly popular The Incredible Undersea Trial of Joseph P. Lawnboy and the intense psychological drama 7 Ways to Get There.

Sophie is described as in a press release as “an uplifting play based on Sophie Large’s extraordinary writings, many of which are published widely in the acclaimed book Sophie’s Log.  From her earliest childhood, Sophie used to write about things and events and people that interested her, and as she became older she often wrote as well about her own thoughts and feelings. This one-act show takes place at an outdoor railway station, where a young Sophie (age 13) talks with her older self (age 19).

“At age 19, the talented Sophie was due to direct and produce a play at the Edinburgh Fringe (Scotland) but died before this ambition could be realized. In the ensuing weeks her family decided to found a charity in Sophie’s name to give financial support to needy students of acting and of singing – ‘Sophie’s Silver Lining Fund’. The charity published a book of Sophie’s own writings entitled ‘Sophie’s Log – thoughts and feelings in poetry and prose’. A few years later the trustees commissioned a playwright to write a short play based on Sophie’s Log.”

Sophie is directed by Charlotte Tiencken & Stephen Floyd. Recommended for ages 12 and up.

Sunday, February 25 at 2:00 PM 
·  Olympia Family Theater
612 4th Ave E, Olympia, Washington 98501

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Glass Menagerie comes to Lakewood

by Alec Clayton  
Laura (Jess Weaver) and Jim (Nick Fitzgerald), photo by Tim Johnson
Tennessee Williams was a genius, and Lakewood Playhouse does more than justice to his masterpiece, The Glass Menagerie. Williams’ plays are among the best in what many consider the golden age of American drama — because he makes complex human emotions seem simple and because he writes such inventive lines as “…the powerful and obnoxious odor of mendacity” (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) and “He s a telephone man who fell in love with long distance” (The Glass Menagerie). And for his wonderful use of metaphor, such as in the title itself — Laura’s glass menagerie or collection of tiny glass animals is a metaphor for Laura’s fragile psyche and the broken lives of all the characters.
The structure of Menagerie, with narrator Tom Wingfield (Niclas Olson) stepping in and out of the character and even signaling when lights should be turned up or down, is a masterful stroke and one of the most inventive uses of “breaking the fourth wall” I have seen. Olson and Director Micheal O’Hara can be credited with this. Williams left such innovations up to the producing companies, along with freedom to interpret lighting and sound, which Sound Designer and Playhouse Artistic Director John Munn, along with Lighting Director Aaron Mohs-Hale did in a way Munn calls cinematic. Both were dramatically effective.
from left: Tom (Niclas Olson), Laura, and Amanda (Dayna Childs), photo by Tim Johnson
Tom works a job he hates and longs to get away from the stifling home he shares with his domineering mother, Amanda (Dayna Childs) and his painfully withdrawn sister, Laura (Jess Weaver). Laura’s debilitating shyness is masterfully and painfully enacted by Weaver. The character was based on Williams’ sister Rose, who ended up in a mental hospital and was lobotomized.
Amanda tries to live her life as a Gone with the Wind-era Southern belle and wants nothing so much as to find a “gentleman caller” to romance Laura. That gentleman caller appears in the guise of Jim O’Connor (Nick Fitzgerald), a workmate of Tom’s who is invited for dinner. Jim is charming, and he gently draws Laura out of her self-imposed shell, but there is cruel thoughtlessness underneath his charm.
Menagerie is Williams’ most autobiographic play. Tom is clearly Williams, and Laura and Amanda are based on his mother and sister. Tom as the narrator even states as much, calling the play a “memory play.” Williams was gay, and there has been much speculation that Tom is a closeted gay man. But the only hint to this in the play is that he goes to the movies every night and does not come home until the wee hours of the morning. Amanda thinks he’s up to something else and not really going to the movies.
The pacing and the direction by Micheal O’Hara is excellent, as are James Venturini’s set design and Mohs-Hale’s lighting design. The ensemble cast is smack-on, especially Olson and Weaver. Childs’ over-the-top take on the clichéd Southern belle is hard to take, and some might think unrealistic, but I lived in the Deep South and I know that such characters existed when this play is set, and there were still a few around when I left the South in 1988.
The Glass Menagerie is a sad and depressing play. It is almost three hours long, including intermission. Yet I came away stimulated and not depressed. It is a great play, beautifully produced and acted.

The Glass Menagerie
8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, 2 p.m., through March 11
Lakewood Playhouse, 5729 Lakewood Towne Center Blvd., Lakewood
(253) 588-0042,

Monday, February 19, 2018

CJ Swanson's paintings at Batdorf and Bronson

From my review of CJ Swanson's paintings at Batdorf and Bronson:  I thought at the time her work was good if somewhat derivative. Since then her work has grown more complex and compositionally stronger, though subtly so.

Read the complete review in

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Sophie by Bryan Willis

Olympia Family Theater presents a special performance of Sophie
 Inline image 2
An uplifting play based on Sophie Large’s extraordinary writings, many of which are published widely in the acclaimed book Sophie’s Log.  From her earliest childhood, Sophie used to write about things and events and people that interested her, and as she became older she often wrote as well about her own thoughts and feelings. This one-act show takes place at an outdoor railway station, where a young Sophie (age 13) talks with her older self (age 19).

At age 19, the talented Sophie was due to direct and produce a play at the Edinburgh Fringe (Scotland) but died before this ambition could be realized. In the ensuing weeks her family decided to found a charity in Sophie’s name to give financial support to needy students of acting and of singing – ‘Sophie’s Silver Lining Fund’. The charity published a book of Sophie’s own writings entitled ‘Sophie’s Log – thoughts and feelings in poetry and prose’. A few years later the trustees commissioned a playwright to write a short play based on Sophie’s Log.

Written by local Olympia playwright, Bryan Willis, Sophie premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2002 and was adapted as a radio play two years later for broadcasting on BBC Radio 4, as an Afternoon Theatre play.

“Funny, moving, true,”
–Sue Roberts, BBC Radio
“A definite must-see,”
–Zoe Green, The Scotsman

Directed by Charlotte Tiencken & Stephen Floyd
A one-act show
Runtime: 50 minutes
Recommended for ages 12+
This production premiered on Vashon Island and was recently featured at the International Theater Festival in Shenzhen, China.

All seats: $10

Sunday, February 25th at 2pm

Our lobby will open 1 hour before show time.
Recommended for ages 12+


All seats are $10
Available anytime online:
Box Office Walk-up: 1 hours before performance


Olympia Family Theater • 612 4th Ave E • Olympia, WA 98501 • (360) 570-1638

Creative Colloquy and Spaceworks Tacoma holding Literary Reading and Open Mic

In support of TRANSFORMation
Transforming the Theater District

On Thursday, February 22, 6–8pm, Creative Colloquy will hold a free public literary event focused on the future TRANSFORMation of the Theater District. Literary readings about the proposed revitalization will be shared by six local writers, with talk-back encouraged. Light refreshments will be served. The event will be held at the Pythian Temple, 926 1/2 Broadway, Tacoma. ADA entrance on Court C.

TRANSFORM is a project initiated in 2017 by Pierce Transit, City of Tacoma and Broadway Center for the Performing Arts, aimed at revitalizing Tacoma’s Theater District. These three project partners are committed to working with the community to develop a plan to redesign the transportation and cultural hub framed by 9th and 11th Streets between Broadway and Pacific Avenue into a vibrant district at the heart of downtown.

“What we want to end up with is a plan that sparks change, and makes this district better for our transit riders, theater-goers, residents, workers – everyone who cares about this district. So, while we get entertained by some cool local artists, we’ll also be checking in to see if our plan is headed in the right direction.” Janine Robinson, Senior Planner, Pierce Transit

This free community event, produced by Spaceworks Tacoma, will include a presentation of TRANSFORM plan progress; Creative Colloquy readings of creative non-fiction, essays, and poetry; an open mic at which the public can share their ideas. Featured writers include Moe’Neyah Holland, J Anne Fullerton, Blaine Johnson, Christina Butcher, Daniel Person, and Anita Schwedder.

Facebook RSVPs are encouraged, however no registration is required. To join the event on Facebook, visit

“This event will be a unique and entertaining way for the community to provide us feedback,” said Heather Joy, Spaceworks Manager. “We are excited to hear from people who care about downtown and the future of our Theater District.”

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Colonial Walk Overwhelms

Minoosh Zomorodinia at Feast Art Center
by Alec Clayton
Published in the Weekly Volcano, Feb. 8, 2018
 “Land Mark” paper sculpture with projection by Minoosh Zomorodinia, photo by Alec Clayton
Much has been written online and elsewhere about Minoosh Zomorodinia’s Colonial Walk, an art installation and gallery exhibition, parts of which are on display at Feast Art Center. According to the gallery website at it is a project in process that investigates the relationship between the self and the natural environment, explaining: “Meditating on the ways immigrants can or cannot make home in the United States, Zomorodinia  takes dérives (or psychogeographic walks) through nature, mapping her routes with geographical information systems (GIS) software and other programs. The videos taken along her routes are then reconstructed intro abstract pathways, and are projected onto larger sculptural forms.”
The dominant feature of the installation is a sculpture in paper, tape and wire of a geologic formation that stands about eight feet tall in the center of the room and upon which is projected images of rock formations. It is called “Land Mark.” The structure is circular and open on one side so visitors can view it from all sides, inside and out. The projected images land on the sculpture and on the wall behind it — actually the front wall of the gallery, with windows covered. The projected image permeates the entire room with muted gray, pink and violet sunset colors and creates optical movement such as in moiré patterns. If you watch closely while someone steps inside this sculpture, you can see the walls close in on them. Whether this is an optical illusion or actual movement is debatable, but since it is made of light materials that hang from the ceiling, it is likely that the wind created by the entering body makes the walls move.
There is a dreamlike feel to the combined sculpture and video projection that is meditative and fascinating. It calls for close study of the many details from the grid pattern (which could be printed on or woven into the paper or projected onto it, it’s impossible to tell which) to the changing colors and the interaction of huge and minute shapes both positive and negative.
If this central piece were the only thing in the exhibition, immersing oneself into the experience of walking around and into it would be a transportive experience in itself. But wait, there’s more. 
On one wall is what appears at first glance to be a series of graphite drawings of jagged forms like crushed paper airplanes or abstract images of birds in flight done directly on the wall. It is called “Missile Map” — a title that hints at a possible more sinister meaning. Upon close inspection it is revealed to be a series of three-dimensional drawings in bent wire and paper strips suspended in front of the wall upon which are dark marks like pentimenti strokes that might be cast shadows or actual marks on the wall. As with the grids on “Land Mark,” it is impossible to tell.
Also included are a small wall-hung sculpture with projected light images, a video, and a series of digital prints from similar sculptural pieces.
As indicated in wall texts and other sources, there is much meaning inherent in these pieces which I’m not sure I fully comprehend, but for me it is enough that it is an almost overwhelming visual and sensory experience.
Minoosh Zomorodinia’s Colonial Walk, noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, and by appointment, through March 10, Feast Arts Center, 1402 S. 11th St., Tacoma, 

Monday, February 5, 2018

Lakewood Playhouse run-raiser and season reveal preview party


Sunday, February 18th at 6:00pm

The LAKEWOOD PLAYHOUSE is having a PARTY to ANNOUNCE and PREVIEW Our Upcoming 80th SEASON of SHOWS and You are Invited!  Doors open, and Silent Auction begins, at 6:00pm on Sunday, February 18th, 2018.  The Preview Party kicks into high gear at 6:30pm

JOIN US for a very special night as we announce the 6 Shows, and 2 Bonus Shows, of our Historic 80th Season!

It’s a huge evening of Fun, Prizes and TWO SONGS from NEXT SEASON’S MUSICALS Performed by an ALL-STAR LineUp of Returning Cast Members from our past Hit Musicals – PIRATES of PENZANCEAVENUE QTHE ROCKY HORROR SHOW, OLIVER and AMERICAN IDIOT!  This Celebration will also serve as the 2nd Annual Fundraiser for your Playhouse! A special gathering with a Wine, phenomenal Silent Auction Items and Live Auction items such as VIP TICKETS to the RAINIERS with Refreshments and a Tour of the Field, a Private Get-away at CEDARBROOK LODGE, Tickets to the Northwest Premier of Disney’s HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME at the 5th AVENUE, a Luxury Stay at SNOWATER RESORT at Mount Baker, a WALK ON ROLE in Next Season’s LiT SPOTLIGHT SHOW and much, much more!

We will also be having another 50/50 RAFFLE!  Last year’s Winner won over $700.00!

PLUS – We are thrilled to announce that this year’s PLAYHOUSE PREVIEW PARTY will once again have Light Appetizers provided by CARR'S RESTAURANT & CATERING!

All Proceeds from Ticket Sales will go to benefit the Lakewood Playhouse Annual “FRIENDS FUND” which goes to keep our costs down at the Theatre.  Our Theme for this year’s Fun-Raiser is “THIS OLD HOUSE” because we will also be raising funds to help upgrade areas in this Old House we call our Home – The Lakewood Playhouse!  This year we are focusing on two areas: UPGRADING OUR BATHROOMS and NEW BODY MICROPHONES for Our Actors to Wear during Musicals!  Both areas are at the top of the “Wish List” of Our Patrons!

Ticket Prices are: $25.00 (and includes appetizers and apple cider), $50.00 (and includes appetizers, apple cider and a glass of wine for adults), $75.00 (and includes appetizers, apple cider and two glasses of wine for adults) and a limited number of VIP TABLES which seat six each and a special surprise, light appetizers and two bottles of wine.  There are only five tables left and these are going very quickly!

TICKETS are AVAILABLE ONLINE at or can be purchased by CALLING Our BOX OFFICE at (253) 588-0042.

VIP TABLES can be purchased through contacting our BOX OFFICE ONLY at (253) 588-0042 or while visiting during our normal box office hours.