Thursday, January 24, 2019

Metaphor into Form

The new Benaroya Wing opens at Tacoma Art Museum
By Alec Clayton
Published in the Weekly Volcano, Jan. 23, 2019
“Reconstruction of Pluto and Persephone” glass, steel and photographs, gift of Glen Stewart, photo by Richard Nicol, courtesy Tacoma Art Museum
On Saturday, Jan. 19, Tacoma Art Museum celebrated the opening of the new Rebecca and Jack Benaroya Wing, with its 4,800 square feet of new gallery space including the gorgeous vista gallery with its 46-foot-wide window projecting six feet out from the building’s north face. On display in the new wing donated by Rebecca and Jack Benaroya is a collection of selected works from their collection of some 353 glass-art pieces, one of the largest such collections in the world. The entire collection is earmarked to eventually go to TAM.
With this collection, TAM now has more than 900 works of glass art in its permanent collection. The opening exhibition, Metaphor into Form: The Rebecca and Jack Benaroya Collection, includes iconic works by Dale Chihuly, Howard Ben Tré, Lino  Tagliapietra, William Morris, Dante Marioni and many other artists mostly associated with the Pilchuck Glass School.
“Current,” a 30-foot long glass sculpture by Martin Blank, is installed in the museum lobby. Blank is the artist who created the “Fluent Steps” in the reflecting pool at the Museum of Glass. “Current” is a series of rough aquamarine slabs of glass mounted on and behind metal strips and standing wood beams. It represents the flowing waters of Puget Sound. It is monumental and stunning due to the sparkling color of the glass, strong material contrasts and sheer size.
The first piece to greet viewers upon entry into the new Benaroya wing is Stanislav Libenský’s “Green Eye of the Pyramid III,” a minimalist sculpture in cast, cut and polished glass: a luminous, translucent and mysterious pyramid that seems to bend magically as you look at it from different points of view.
Morris’s blown glass and metal animal sculptures that look for all the world like creatures emergent from some prehistoric slime. These creatures are displayed behind non-reflective glass in a display case that is interesting in itself, being an integral part of the building built around a load-bearing post.
Another display that appears to be an integral part of the building is Charles LeDray’s dark and foreboding “Jewelry Window” fabric, wood, glass and other materials set between glass sheets 42 inches apart in a case that is built to look like a window set into the wall. Any further description would spoil the effect of seeing it in person.
A large part of the gallery — essentially a gallery within the larger gallery ― is set aside for Debora Moore’s four almost-ceiling-high glass trees, each tree representing one of the four seasons of the year. The technical expertise required to make these trees, with their limbs and details such as sprouting flowers and ice crystals and moss on trunks and limbs, is astounding.
No ending date has been set for this inaugural exhibition, but some of the works should be up throughout 2019, and other works from the collection will be brought in.

Metaphor into Form, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, $15 adults, $13 students and seniors, free for military and children 5 and younger, free Third Thursday from 5-8 p.m., Tacoma Art Museum, 1701 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, 253.272.4258,

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