Arts & Culture

Woolworth Windows showcase glitz, glamour and fairytales for the New Year

You always expect something glitzy in the Woolworth Windows art project for the New Years’ installation, since so many people are wandering around that end of Broadway at nighttime during First Night festivities Dec. 31.

This year doesn’t disappoint. Spaceworks Tacoma has chosen three artists with creative imaginations that go beyond three dimensions into light, reflection and immersion. More are coming on Commerce Street by the end of this week.

In the windows nearest Theatre on the Square park, Seattle artist Elise Koncsek creates art worlds that require a viewer: Draping each window in wacky-patterned fabric to hide what’s behind, Koncsek positions childlike cardboard cutouts (curvy Teletubby figures, a cartoon piranha) with strategic eye-holes at adult- and child-height on the windowpane. Will you look through?

If you do, you’ll glimpse tiny, surreal fairytale worlds: a space-age landscape where colored light flickers on silver foil planets; tiny twig people dangling oddly from thin branches amid a spiderweb of white gauze; a rubber duck sailing a pirate raft; an undersea scene where toy whales float past a giant woman’s torso, encrusted with barnacles like a sea goddess; chunky stained-glass windows and an Earth made from scrunched fabric floating high in a black sky.

Koncsek’s a photographer by profession, and the concept of peeking through a hole to frame a scene references this gracefully. But most of all, Koncsek is challenging us with her art-project construction and childlike fantasy worlds to take part in her art by dropping our adult perceptions and being willing to look inside.

In the central window, Barbara De Pirro creates a new biology by turning plastic into pulsating cells. Cutting translucent white plastic bottles into squares and painstakingly sewing them together in a honeycomb with fix-my-dolly cross stitches, she builds a bulbous, elongated creature that flows across the window. Lit from within, it pulses white in the darkness like phosphorescent egg sacs, the promise of life coming from discarded plastic death.

Anastasia Zielinski, turns the window on the corner of Broadway and South 11th Street into a child’s dress-up stage. Draped from floor to ceiling with sparkly metallic mesh in blue and black, silvery chain-mail fabric and gold satin, her theater set invites us in, metaphorically. Cracked mirrors reflect the upside-down branches and buildings of the street, pockets of sky, glimmers of streetlights. The only thing missing — and it’s a big one — is you.

In Zielinski’s summer installation in Seattle’s South Lake Union business area, cleverly placed mirror shards shot back reflections of passersby as they stopped to look — the swift, fleeting flash of each person as they imagined themselves somewhere else, something else. This is missing in the Broadway installation. The mirrors only reflect the street, and the viewer is left out in the cold watching a dress-up stage without actors that thereby loses all meaning.