Friday, August 16, 2019

Welcome to the Circus

Douglass Orr’s paintings of circus posters and William Turner: A Tribute to the Artist
By Alec Clayton
Installing circus poster paintings at Minka
Continuing in its quest to bring new and unusual art to Tacoma —typically and often works that may never be seen elsewhere—Minka is now showing paintings by Douglas Orr of early 20th century circus posters and upstairs in MU Gallery, a tribute to William Turner.
A California transplant now living in Aberdeen, Orr is co-founder of the Aberdeen Art Center and Alder Grove Gallery.
Lisa Kinoshita of Minka says, “If you're weary of the relentless sideshow of partisan politics, we invite you to rest your orbs on this spectacular show of paintings by Douglas Orr. These fiercely colored canvases of early 20th century circus banners inadvertently capture the zeitgeist without an overt reference to clowns or mimes of the elected kind. Orr's companion piece ‘Windows to the Soul’ is inhabited by the eyes of friends – but also a homeless man in the uppermost panel who lends it a somewhat dark inflection in the era of Orwellian politics and homeland surveillance. It is a symptom of the times that paintings of such contrasting style and content both lead the viewer back to muse on the state of society and country.”
William Turner “Playing (Cuenic)”
Upstairs at MU Gallery, you can visit a show of paintings by William Turner. MU curator Brian Ebersole invited Turner and his wife, Josie (a former Poet Laureate of Tacoma), to choose paintings that trace Turner's long career.
This exhibit touches on many phases of Turner's career, with an emphasis on figural work and landscape abstracts. "I paint to jazz, and the rhythms that play in my ear give my paintings movement and velocity," says Turner. "I have many different series, some that focus on the environment through aerial and/or exploratory landscapes, some on jazz and dancing figures. I am drawn to the human figure and love to sketch it in all its perfections and imperfections."
Turner is also known for his plein air painting, “reflecting memories of home and travels. In my current series, I have returned to my first love, oil paints. In this series, I am playing with the luscious sculptural elements that only oil paint can create." 
Turner’s little painting “Playing (Cuenic).” Was a hit in the recent Tacoma Community College Juried Exhibition. I wrote about it in my review for the Weekly Volcano: “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.
I highly recommend seeing Welcome to the Circus and William Turner: A Tribute to the Artist at Minka.
Thurs-Sun, noon to 5 p.m. and by appointment, 821 Pacific Ave., through September 22, 2019.

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