Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Juried exhibition at Tacoma Community College

Raging emotions on display
by Alec Clayton
Published in the Weekly Volcano, July 15, 2019
 “Nachtgespenster” and  “Family Separation,” sculptures by Irene Osborn, photo by Rachel Payne
There are certain characteristics shared by most if not all juried art exhibitions that are particularly noticeable at top-quality shows such as those held annually at South Puget Sound Community College and Tacoma Community College where many of the same artists show up every year. Such shows have a plethora of outstanding art, but a good half of the works are just OK — not bad at all, but not work that makes you want to run out in the streets and sing their praises at the top of your lungs.
Both TCC and SPSCC are currently having their annual juried shows. I haven’t yet seen the show at SPSCC but plan to soon. In this column I will concentrate on the works in the show in Tacoma, which incidentally includes a lot of Olympia artists. And I shall concentrate on the pieces that do make you want to rush out and sing their praises.
“Playing (Cuenic).” by William Turner

"Agony," clay, paint and limestone by Mary Beth Hynes
Tops among these is William Turner’s little painting “Playing (Cuenic).” At first glance, this painting brought to mind paintings by the great British abstract painter Howard Hodgkin, but Turner’s painting is much grittier and more complex that anything of Hodgkin’s, and to my way of thinking, more exciting. There are shapes within shapes. A deep cerulean blue rectangle in the upper left corner plays off against a large backwards “L” shape filling the rest of the surface. The blue area is like a window into the depths of night. The rest is like old city billboards that have been ripped and tattered showing multiple layers. Both sections are filled with architectonic and organic shapes and marks. The colors range from burning bright to shadowy dark areas, and the paint application is gritty and heavy in places and smooth and blended in others. Seldom will you see so much variety of shape, color, line and mark-making in a single little painting. If I were the juror and were tasked with choosing “Best in Show,” I would have to give this one serious consideration.
Lynette Charters’ “Missing Woman” series has become so ubiquitous it is hard to say anything new about them. There are three in the TCC show and at least one in the South Puget Sound show. In this series, Charters both honors and criticizes male painters for their paintings of women that objectify their subjects, while women artists are ‘missing” in so many museums and galleries. She paints almost exact copies of master paintings of women on wood panels but leaves the women’s bodies unpainted. I believe I have seen every painting in the series and therefore can say the jurors chose her three best: “DeKooning’s Muse,” “Yves Klien’s Petite Muse Blue” and “Picasso’s Seated Bather Muse.”
Mary Beth Hynes’s “Agony,” clay, paint and limestone, is a tableau of five small sculptures of male and female nudes in stressful and agonizing postures with rough bodies in positions that would be painful were they living people. The emotional impact of these figures is akin to that of Michelangelo’s sculptures of slaves or Rodin’s “Gates of Hell.” Taken separately, these figures might be in the “OK” category, but as a group they are shout-it-in-the-street powerful.
Similar in terms of emotional impact are Irene Osborne’s two sculpted heads “Family Separation” and “Nachtgespenster.” One is the fully rounded figure of a shouting head, and the other is a bas relief wall-mounted face that is split down the middle. It is great to see how the two relate visually.
Special notice should also be given to Robert Thomas’s portrait of the writer James Baldwin and Jeffree Stewart’s oil painting “Standing Symbol,” one of Stewart’s best yet.

17th Annual Juried Local Art Exhibition, noon to 5 p.m. Monday-Thursday, through Aug. 9, Tacoma Community College, Building 5A, entrance off South 12th Street between Pearl and Mildred, Tacoma, visitor parking in Lot G. 

Friday, July 19, 2019

Review: Mamma Mia

By Alec Clayton
Published in The News Tribune, July 19, 2019
photo by Kat Dollarhide
The musical “Mamma Mia,” based on the music of ABBA with music and lyrics by former ABBA band members Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, has enjoyed phenomenal success since opening in London in 1999. On this side of the pond it is the ninth longest-running show in Broadway history, and judging from the opening night audience response at Tacoma Musical Playhouse, it still has an almost rabid fan base.
It is a feel-good romantic comedy with a simple but delightful plot filled with disco music of the type that gets your mind dancing and won’t let go – songs like the title song and “Money, Money, Money,” “Dancing Queen,” “Take a Chance on Me.”
Growing up on a Greek island where her mother runs a tavern, Sophie (Maggie Barry) has never known who her father was. As her wedding to Sky (Donovan Mahannah) approaches, she sneaks a peek into her mother’s old diary and discovers that mom had three affairs in a short period of time 21 years ago, and any one of the three could be her father. So, unbeknownst to her mother, she invites all the possible fathers to the wedding. They are Harry (Gary Chambers), a banker; Bill (Sam Barker), an adventurer; and Sam (Scott Polovitch-Davis), an architect.
The spirit of the play is made evident from the moment audience members walk into the theater – from drinks called “dot dot dot” and “Voulez-Vous” served at the concession stand to the disco ball that casts swirling lights all over the auditorium walls and ceiling. The drink names refer to, respectively, something in Sophie’s mother’s diary and the song that ends the first act, both of which refer to the act that generated Sophie’s dilemma.
Sophie’s mother, Donna (Linda Palacios), is the former lead singer in the girl group Donna and the Dynamos. Now, two decades after the band quit playing, she’s still got it. The Dynamos get back together and revise some of their old hits starting with “Honey Honey,” and prove they can still rock out. Palacios has a terrific voice, as does Barry. All the music is good, but the musical standout is not a disco number, but a more serious song called “S.O.S.” belted out by Polovitch-Davis, who in many ways – acting and singing – is the performer who keeps “Mamma Mia” from being too much fluff.
In addition to the danceable music and the lighthearted humor, what this play has going for it is exceptional production values, from costumes by Janet English to Jon Douglas Rake’s direction and choreography, to delightful ensemble song-and-dance numbers, to John Chenault’s lighting to the marvelous island villa created by set designer Blake R. York and scenic technician Bruce Haasl.

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, through Aug. 4, extra performances added performances 6:30 p.m. July 28 and 7:30 p.m. Aug. 1
WHERE: Tacoma Musical Playhouse at The Narrows Theatre, 7116 Sixth Ave., Tacoma TICKETS: $31, $29 senior, Military, Students, $22 children 12 and younger, $27 groups of 10 or more
INFORMATION: 253.565.6867, http://www.tmp.org

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Vaudeville Auditions


The Lord Franzannian Royal Olympian Spectacular Vaudeville Show!

Olympia's most popular annual variety show wants you or your group to share your talent and be part of The Lord Franzannian Royal Olympian Spectacular Vaudeville Show!

BigShowCity Performing Arts Organization is seeking short (2-6 min) live performance acts that are often: funny, or skillful, or daring, or weird, or simply audience worthy. (Not so much serious drama, not so much rock bands.) They can be solo acts, or group numbers. Acrobats, Dancers, Jugglers, Puppeteers, Storytellers, Singers, Actors, Magicians, Comedy, _________ fill in the blank. All talents encouraged from the traditional to the modern bizarre.

All performers selected to be part of the show will receive a stipend.

Actual Vaudeville show runs: October 11-13 and 18-20, 2019

This is a fun show to participate in and it is very well liked in our community - every performance sells out! At the audition, show us your act, or even just tell us all about your idea for an act. Remember, even if your act isn't fully formed and rehearsed, we still will have another month to get it up to speed. Go for it! Take a chance.

Get creative, anything goes. What can you do?

When: Saturday September 21, 2019

Time: 2:00 pm

Where: Octapas Café  - 414  4th Ave E. Olympia, WA 98501

Who: Produced by Elizabeth Lord and the non-profit BigShowCity Performing Arts Organization

Contact: Elizabeth Lord 360-754-7114 or cell 360-250-2721, Elizabeth-lord@hotmail.com, www.professionaltalker.com (click on Vaudeville show tab)


Friday, July 5, 2019

In the Spirit

Regional Native art at History Museum
By Alec Clayton
Published in the Weekly Volcano, July 4, 2019
“Predator Cannibal” stainless steel sculpture by Robin Lovelace, courtesy Washington State History Museum
For the 14th year, Washington State History Museum presents a juried exhibition of works by regional indigenous artists. Twenty-eight works of art by 24 artists are on display, including mixed media, paintings, beadwork, textiles, sculpture, carving, and basketry. Throughout the run of the exhibition, visitors can vote for their favorite work on view; the top two People’s Choice awards will be announced at the free In the Spirit Northwest Native Festival on August 10, held in collaboration with Tacoma Art Museum and the Museum of Glass.
“Some (artists) have exhibited in previous years, including RYAN! Feddersen and Linley B. Logan. We’re honored to feature artists who are new to the show as well, including Dan Friday’s works in glass, and Robin Lovelace’s stainless steel mask sculpture,” said the History Museum’s lead program manager, Molly Wilmoth.
Jurors chose “Predator Cannibal” by Robin Lovelace, Tingit, as Best in Show. “Predator Cannibal” is a fierce sculpted mask in stainless steel and abalone. It is a shiny warrior face with jewels on the nose and an expression that could easily scare little children.
“Full Circle Totem” by Dan Friday, Lummi, is a glass totem that combines contemporary glass forms with traditional imagery. It is sleek, smooth, beautifully colored in tones of green and copper, and it includes references to regional ecology and tradition in a humorous vein, as a little pot-bellied bear stands atop a glass vessel and lifts above his head a salmon and an evergreen tree.
“Generations 2” by Denise Emerson, Skokomish Enrolled and Navajo, is a print depicting four women in Native dresses, each with a baby in a carrier strapped to her back. It is done in a Pop Art style, with no shading in multiple colors on a bright blue-green background. The shapes and colors create a kind of semi-static dance across the surface.
“The Little People” by Carol Emarthle Douglas, Northern Arapaho, is a basket in coiled waxed linen. Amazingly, what appears to be purely abstract decorative markings turns out to be, upon closer observation, many figures of standing people, which become even more evident upon looking down into the inside of the basket.
One of the more delightful and intriguing pieces in the show is “Our Stories Are Mixed,” a mixed-media sculpture of a kitchen mixer with Czech seed beads and found objects, including a glass jar with a crank handle standing on a stack of books. This work is by Cynthia Masterson, Comanche Nation of Oklahoma. The book titles and the mixer, which is a visual pun, refer to the people of the Nation.
“Bison Stack” by RYAN! Feddersen, Confederated Tribes of the Colville, is a black and white print that starkly and dramatically pictures the slaughter of buffalo.
I recommend seeing this show, and I recommend the exhibition in the adjacent gallery: A Thousand Words Worth: Washington Authors Tell Stories with Objects.

In the Spirit, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday. 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Third Thursday, through Dec. 6, free for members; $14 adults, $11 seniors, students, and active duty and retired military, $40 per family (up to 2 adults and up to 4 children under age 18), free for children under 5. Patrons with a Washington Quest card or with a Washington Foster Parent license (and ID), $1 per person or $2 per family, free Third Thursday, Washington State History Museum, 1911 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, www.WashingtonHistory.org.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Paintings by Lois Beck at Allsorts Gallery

 By Alec Clayton

“Beta” monoprint by Lois Beck
Allsorts Gallery is featuring works by Olympia artist Lois Beck in their latest. There are 22 works in the show, all works on paper of modest size. Most are monoprints or collages. Typically, Beck cuts monoprints into various shapes and collages them onto other monoprints that are used as background. A few of these include narrow strips of printed paper that are woven in and out across the surface to create hard-edged patterns over more amorphous backgrounds.

Overall her prints and collages have the look of what would be the very best works to be created in a college art department design class or perhaps abstract art from the early years of abstraction—works from artists such as Miro, Kandinski or Klee, with some hints of Abstract Expressionism.

There is a lot of variety in style from an early landscape that is not at all abstract, a rarity among these pieces, to one called “String Theory” that reminds me of Duchamp’s “Network of Stoppages,” to a little piece called “Dune” that is as minimalist as anything you’re likely to see these days.

The ones with the woven strips of paper play with spatial relationships and with contrasts between the sharp edges and the more amorphous shapes. In some of them,  woven checkerboard or kitchen-tile patterns appear to hover above the more atmospheric backgrounds.

“String Theory” is a complex composition and one of the most interesting pieces in the show. There are rough, jagged lines that look, like strings that have been held above the surface and dropped to create random lines in random places on a dark background, as in Duchamp’s “stoppages.” Intermingled with these are geometric shapes that look like cellular images seen a microscope — some but not all are round. All of this is in black, white and gray. The similarities and slight differences between the string-like lines and the “cellular images” are striking, and the whole thing seems alive with static movement.

“Dune” is a lovely construction of either a.) two black lines of varying weight on a red-ochre field or b.) a single such line that goes out of the picture plane and curves back into it. It is impossible to tell which, which is part of the print’s charm.

“Unfolding” is a hand-printed collage with a network of dark bars that taper in width like neckties and go top-to-bottom over a background upon with are drawn abstract figures in white over gray. The interaction of the neckties and the background figures is fascinating as diagonal stripes across the ties continue the lines of the figures in just barely enough places to unite figure and ground.

Openings at Allsorts are casual and enjoyable social events with a terrific spread of snacks. Olympia owes John and Lynette Charters Serembe a debt of thanks for periodically turning their home into an art gallery.

WHAT  Paintings and monoprints by Lois Beck
WHEN 5-7 p.m. July 11-13 and 19-20, artist reception July 14, 4-7 p.m.
WHERE All Sorts Gallery, 2306 Capitol Way S, Olympia
LEARN MORE https://www.facebook.com/Allsorts-Gallery,  (323) 254-6220