“Current Work” at Brick House gallery ranges from floating horses to floating houses

Tacoma News TribuneMarch 5, 2014 

After a hiatus, Brick House has opened a brand-new show of, literally, brand-new work. “Current Work” is exactly that: Gallerist Peter MacDonald asked all his regular artists to submit work done during the last year, and while it’s a diverse show, it’s still coherent, and fascinating to see how some of these artists are developing.

Possibly the first thing you’ll notice is a carousel horse, child-size, hanging from the ceiling and zebra-striped. Jada Moon has creatively taken her debt collection notices and plastered a swing horse with them, alternating with black paint and a saddle of hot pink-and-purple chocolate wrappers. It’s striking, just a bit tacky, definitely ironic. Sumi-e painter Darlene Dihel is also inspired by the Year of the Horse, capturing a prancing ink pony with poodle-ish fetlocks and mane and fat, wild brushstrokes.

After that, though, the show ventures all over the content map, with varying results. Alan Hopkins’s ode to the rat in a mixed media hodgepodge of rusted steel, broken mirrors, faux fur, photographs and detritus is an odd assemblage, not quite achieving the statement he’s clearly trying to make. Frank Terrell, though, creates three thoughtful small sculptures, with black coral reaching out of marble like fingers, or a marble cylinder offered like a tiny scroll. Gabriel Brown hangs more of his tiny grocery-box houses, floating on cardboard islands of terrain and turf amid fluffy white cotton clouds like a hand-made video game; it’s especially effective hovering over the living room furniture in the front of the gallery-house. Wander into the back room and look up the stairs to see more of Brown’s creative re-use: giant wasp nests alternating corrugated cardboard with flattened soda cans, garbage wrappers, plastic – a comment on how scientists are starting to conflate the animal, fungi and plant kingdoms in a new taxonomy.

Most of the rest of “Current Work” is two-dimensional, with some favorite artists breaking new ground. Bill Colby brings in bright reds, yellows and greens into stylized water-based woodcuts of the beach, singing a cheerful summer song. Cecilia Blomberg and Margo Macdonald offer tiny tapestries, landscapes in rich indigo and orange. Nancy Johnson’s small waterscapes are dull compared to her large works of rippling aqua pools, but Sharon Styer captures Dungeness Spit floating in mist in a sepia-toned photograph on aluminum, and Mindi Katzman explores unusual textures in her encaustic-and-pigment koi pond, the fish like fabric and the water thick as Jello.

Also worth a look is Julie Alland’ss “Disquietude,” perplexed phrases transferred via lithograph onto opaque glass, and trapped behind a bubbly, clear glass switchplate. In the back Peter MacDonald’s shows us “Renee,” a statuesque graphite nude with a tense, protective body but calm, thoughtful eyes, shadowed interestingly with deep, watery strokes.

“Current Work” is up at Brick House through April. Open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. March 8 and 15, 5-9 p.m. third Thursdays and by appointment. 1123 S. Fawcett Ave., Tacoma. 253-627-0426, thebrickhousegallery.com

Rosemary Ponnekanti: 253-587-8568 rosemary.ponnekanti@thenewstribune.com

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