Arts & Entertainment

30 Americans at Tacoma Art Museum Part II

South Sound Arts - Sat, 10/22/2016 - 8:18am
African American Art Since the 1970sRobert Colescott, “Pygmalion, 1987, acrylic and oil on canvas, 90 x 114 inches, courtesy of the Rubell Family CollectionPublished in the Weekly Volcano, Oct. 20, 2012I reviewed 30 Americans in this space two weeks ago. With 45 works from 30 of the best African American artists since the 1970s, this exhibition needs more than one column. So here’s part two:One of the more impressive paintings I did not touch on in my first review is Robert Colescott’s “Pygmalion,” a large painting at nine-and-a-half feet in length and seven-and-a-half feet in height. Colescott’s interpretation of the Greek myth (upon which the play by George Bernard Shaw was based) has an interesting twist. The sculptor, Pygmalion, is a black man with gray hair and a heavy gray beard, identified as a self-portrait of the artist (or it could also be a caricature of Frederick Douglass; Colescott’s cartoon style leave a lot to the imagination). The sculpture of the beautiful woman which the mythological sculptor created and then fell in love with is usually depicted in white marble. Here she is presented as a Black woman — not the alluring nude with no arms, that’s the Venus de Milo, also depicted as a Black woman — but the woman in the flower-patterned house dress Pygmalion is dancing with. His expression is angry or intense, not loving. The other figures in this crowded scene all appear as everyday people in everyday situations. Some might even be viewed as stereotypical. It is difficult if not impossible to read the artist’s meaning. Nevertheless, I love this painting. I like its exuberance and energy and bold use of color, and I am fascinated by its ambiguity. Speaking of Frederick Douglass look-a-likes, Rashid Johnson’s black-and-white photograph “The New Negro Escapist Social and Athletic Club (Thurgood)” pictures a handsome Black man in suit and tie surrounded by swirls of smoke. The title refers to Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court justice. I’m not sure that I get the meaning, but it is a dramatic photograph.A striking photo with a similar appearance is Hank Willis Thomas’s “Who Can Say No to a Gorgeous Brunette?” — a part of his “B®randed” series, which critiques the advertising industry by presenting twists on the types of images often seen in ads. Of this series Thomas said, “I believe that … advertising’s success rests on its ability to reinforce generalizations about race, gender, and ethnicity, which can be sometimes true, and sometimes horrifying, but which at a core level reflect the way culture views itself or its aspirations.” Pictured in this photo is a beautiful, strong, Black woman with a sad expression and a huge Afro that blends into the background with a strong use of chiaroscuro. The viewer is asked to contemplate her image in light of the title and with advertising imagery in mind.Kara Walker asks viewers to think about the history of slavery with her mural-size (eight-by-55 feet) frieze of silhouetted, cut-out cartoon figures dancing. They are designed to illustrate the old Stephan Foster minstrel song, “Camptown Ladies.” The frieze presents the style of demeaning images of Negroes that were popular during the time of minstrel shows. The contrast of black figures against the white wall and the rhythmical movement draws the viewer into a deceptively lighthearted visualization of a history of horror.Many of the paintings, photos and sculptures in this show employ irony and insightful references to history and the art of the past in order to comment of the realities of racial relations then and now. It is a powerful show that should be perused slowly, in depth, and often.Tacoma Art Museum, Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., through Jan. 15, 2017, $15, third Thursday free 10 a.m.-8 p.m., 1701 Pacific Ave. Tacoma,

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

We Call This Home: Kathy Gore-Fuss at Salon Refu

South Sound Arts - Tue, 10/18/2016 - 9:15am
Photo: “And They Call This Home,” oil on linen panel by Kathy Gore Fuss, courtesy of the artist

Reviewed in the Weekly Volcano and Oly Arts

“And They Call This Home,” oil on linen panel by Kathy Gore-Fuss, courtesy of the artist“Windswept,” oil on paper by Kathy Gore-Fuss, courtesy of the artistThe exhibition of drawings and paintings by Kathy Gore-Fuss at Salon Refu offers proof positive that practice makes perfect. Gore Fuss has been making art for a long time. She was one of the first artists I met when I moved to Olympia in 1988. She was good then, and she’s been getting progressively better ever since. When she started plein air painting in the dense forests in and around Olympia and later at the gritty, industrial Port of Olympia a few years ago, she found her truest voice and her raison d’etre. She and the subject of her painting have become one. 

Read the complete review inOly Arts.
the Weekly Volcano. 
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Elephant & Piggie's "We are in a Play!" at Olympia Family Theater

South Sound Arts - Tue, 10/18/2016 - 8:34am
Joanna Gibson as Piggie and Isaac McKenzsieSullivan as Gerald, photo by Alexis SarahJoanna Gibson plays Piggie in her OFT debut. Gibson is an acrobat and circus aerialist who teaches at Olympia Community School. She is a bundle of energy, running and jumping and dancing all over the place with a smile that lights up the world. Her exuberant acting reminds me a lot of another OFT favorite, Kate Ayers, who happens to be the director of this play.
Read the complete review on Oly Arts
Also in the Weekly Volcano
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Kathy Gore Fuss

South Sound Arts - Fri, 10/14/2016 - 10:23am
Dear Friends of Salon Refu, Below is an invitation from Kathy Gore-Fuss, our artist this month.  Please come and join with her in conversation.  We might have some snacks for you.     The gallery is open for quiet viewing every Thursday through Sunday from 2 to 6. 
We're selling a lot of work,  so if you've always thought about owning something by Kathy, this is no time to dawdle.   All the best, Susan Christian Salon Refu

Hello Arts Walk fans!   On October 22nd, 2016, I will be giving a talk about my work from 4 – 5PM.  Come early to assure yourself seating!   The gallery will be open from 2 – 6PM that day.    Please come and join me for some thought provoking ideas about this place we call home.      Thank you so much for turning out to see the art shows last Friday!   Cheers – Kathy Gore Fuss Susan Christian, Proprietress | Salon Refu, 114 Capital Way N, Olympia, WA 98501
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Geraldine Ondrizek: Wednesday, October 19th, 11:30-1:00 pm in the Recital Hall of the COM Building

Evergreen Artists Lecture Series - Thu, 10/13/2016 - 2:39pm

Gerri 1Geraldine Ondrizek is a Professor of Art and artist at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. For the last twenty-five years she has collaborated with genetic and medical researchers to make architectural based installations.

She has had over 30 solo exhibitions internationally and is the recipient of several grants including an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Ford Family Foundation, an Oregon Arts Commission Individual Artist Fellowship, an exhibition grant from NASA and the Houston Foundation, a UNESCO Artist in Residence grant, an NEA exhibition support grant, and a Mellon Foundation Art and Science Research Grant.

Geraldine’s work is currently on exhibit in the Evergreen Gallery, located in the Library building,  from October 5th to November 7th.  A reception will be held for her on Tuesday October 18, from 4 – 6pm.

Her 2014-15 project Shades of White done in collaboration with Dr. Alexandra Stern focused on skin color charts and eugenics practices in the US. In 2015, she was an artist in residence at Kaiser Wilhelm Archive at The Max Plank Institute in Berlin where she studied the work of Dr. Georg Geipel and the origins of Biometric Data to create a series of artist books and a short film. Her work was recently in Global Exo-Evolution, curated by Peter Weibel, at ZKM, the Center for Media, in Karlsruhe, The Momentum AIR in Berlin and in Translocation at the Musrara Mix Festival in Jerusalem. In 2016, she completed mtDNA an architectural installation charting of mitochondrial DNA world-wide that will travel to several museums in 2017.  Geraldine received her BFA from Carnegie-Mellon University and an MFA from the University of Washington.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

My Wandering Mind

South Sound Arts - Thu, 10/13/2016 - 10:52am

The Fab Four
We saw on the news the other day that Rod Stewart was knighted. Congrats, Rod. The reporter reminded us that Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger are also knights, and my immediate reaction was: What about Ringo? Come on, Britain, get it right and honor Ringo.
Coincidentally, on that same day my wife and I won tickets in a raffle to see In My Life, a tribute to the Beatles with the band Abbey Road. Actually, someone else won but they had to turn down their tickets, and we were second in line.
It was a fun show—not the Beatles, but a pretty good proximity. The best musicians in the band, by far, were George, played by Zak Schaffer, and Ringo, played by Axel Clarke. Schaffer’s solo on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” was a knockout, and Ringo—I mean Clarke—played the hell out of the drums. The guys playing Paul and John were good, but not as good. All of them were better musicians and singers than actors. They lacked the energy and impish humor and charisma of the Fab Four—not that there weren’t some great songs. They did a knockout job on the tunes from Sgt. Pepper, and “Blackbird” was great.
Letting my mind wander back to my youth when the Beatles first exploded on the scene, I have to admit I was not impressed. I was a big jazz fan back then, and something of a snob. I thought rock ‘n’ roll had reached its pinnacle in the first years with Bill Haley, Elvis, Roy Orbison, Fats Domino, and Chuck Berry. I thought the Beatles were second rate and silly. As for Ringo, I thought he was ridiculous. I should have known better. I was a drummer. My heroes were Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich; later Joe Morello, the great drummer with the Dave Brubeck Quartet; and later still, Art Blakey. The only rock drummer I admired was Ginger Baker, who I still think is one of the greatest.
My wife, 10 years younger than I, was no Beatles fan in the early days either. It was not until Rubber Soul that she came around. For me it was Sgt. Pepper. Only years later did I come to realize that those early tunes, despite their lovesick teenage lyrics, were damn good and musically much more sophisticated than they seemed to me at the time.

Anyway, I’m happy for Rod Stewart and all his fans, and I hope Britain gets around to knighting Ringo before he kicks the bucket.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

The Two Gentlemen of Verona at Harlequin Productions

South Sound Arts - Thu, 10/06/2016 - 3:27pm
Reviewed for Oly Arts, Oct. 5, 2016

There are inspired scenes of comic gold, as when Jason Haws first appears with his dog, a puppet manipulated alternately by Haws and Maggie Ferguson-Wagstaffe. You may recall Ferguson-Wagstaffe was the living presence inside the puppet flower in Harlequin’s recent production of Little Shop of Horrors. There’s also a scene in which everyone mounts make-believe horses and gallops around like knights inMonty Python and the Holy Grail, and a marvelously funny super-slow-motion fight scene near the end of the second act.

Read the complete review

Proteus (Adam St. John) and Valentine (Jeffrey Painter)
Silvia (Jessica Weaver) and Julia (Kira Batcheller)
Speed (Andrew Scott Bullard) and Launce (Jason Haws)
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

30 Americans at Tacoma Art Museum

South Sound Arts - Thu, 10/06/2016 - 3:19pm

African American Art Since the 1970sPublished in the Weekly Volcano, Oct. 6, 2016Jean-Michel Basquiat, "Bird On Money," 1981, acrylic and oil on canvas, 66 x 90 inches, courtesy of the Rubell Family CollectionThe traveling exhibition 30 Americans from the famed Rubell Family Collection in Miami makes its first West Coast stop at Tacoma Art Museum. With 45 works from 30 of the best African American artists since the 1970s, this is one of the more important shows to ever grace the galleries at TAM. Imagine, if you will, that in the early days of pop art you had been able to see — many for the first time ever — works by Lichtenstein, Warhol, Oldenburg, Indiana, Rauschenberg, Johns, and Thiebaud. That is the only thing I can imagine that could have a similar impact to this show. Adding to that, the sheer scale of many of the works is stupendous. Sadly missing, perhaps because they emerged before the 1970s, are Sam Gilliam, Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, Faith Ringgold, Martin Puryear, and Gordon Parks. Some of these artists have been around for quite some time, but in many cases have never received their just recognition.Many are up-and-coming young artists, and few are more up-and-coming than Kehinde Wiley.Wiley’s paintings are a 21st century updating of romantic and baroque art done in monumental scale with brilliant colors and a photo-realist style. Typically, he riffs on classical art by replacing heroic European figures with young black men and women. Wiley’s “Sleep” is the largest painting ever mounted on the walls at TAM. It is 25 feet long and 11 feet tall. It is a reimagining of a painting of the same name by the 18th century French artist Jean Bernard Restout. In this version, a beautiful, Christ-like black man sleeps on a bed of intricate floral patterns, naked but for a sheet draped across his midsection. This painting is mesmerizing because of the rich color, the balance and contrast of figure and background, and the monumental scale. It is one of two Wiley paintings in the show.“Duck, Duck, Noose,” a sculptural installation by Gary Simmons,depicts in stark simplicity the darkest era in United States history. Nine stools are arranged in a circle 132 inches in diameter. Each of the stools is topped with a Ku Klux Klan hood. Hanging from the ceiling in the middle of this is a noose. Seeing this was like listening to a dying heartbeat.I was greatly moved by Mickalene Thomas’s acrylic, rhinestone and enamel wall hanging that graces the entrance to one of the two galleries. It is called, “Baby, I Am Ready Now.” In two panels measuring a total 11 feet in width, it pictures a self-possessed and strong woman seated on a bed with bejeweled and densely clashing patterns.  Mickalene is similar to Wiley in her manner of immersing figures into elaborate settings, but her figures are much more in-your-face seductive. They ooze sensuality and pride.Nina Chanel Abney is an artist new to me. She is young, born in 1982, and just beginning to make a name for herself. Having not previously known her work, I visited her website at and saw scenes of Black life in America with mostly flat figures in solid colors, strong and decorative work exhibiting shades of Jacob Lawrence and Stuart Davis. Her large painting in this show, “Class of 2007,” pictures the students in her class at Parsons The New School of Design. Abney was the only black student in the class. In this painting she pictures all the other students as Black and herself as white. This painting is more expressive in its application of paint than any of her works that I saw online.There are two works by the late, great Jean-Michel Basquiat. Often symbolic of Black life and critical of commercialism, Basquiat’s paintings are sardonic and angry. The two in this show, “Bird on Money” and “One Million Yen,” are outstanding examples of his work. Had the wall text not told us, not everyone would know that the bird in “Bird on Money” represents the great jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker.This show is too big and too important to limit my review to one column. I will follow up with a part-two review in mid-October. But even with two reviews I will not be able to touch on more than a small sampling of the art to be seen.
Tacoma Art Museum, Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., through Jan. 15, 2017, $15, third Thursday free 10 a.m.-8 p.m., 1701 Pacific Ave. Tacoma,

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

My Wandering Mind

South Sound Arts - Thu, 10/06/2016 - 10:50am

From Duchamp to the N-WordTo segue from Marcel Duchamp to the use of the n-word in life and in literature might seem quite a leap, but it came about quite naturally as I let my mind wander away from the art review I was thinking about writing.I’ve referred to Duchamp often when talking about how we got from the art of the 19th century to the art of the late 20thcentury and beyond. I’m convinced that without Duchamp — more specifically, without his “ready-mades” and even more specifically his “Fountain” — there would have been no Andy Warhol, no Allan Kaprow, no Marina Abramovic, no Joseph Beuys, no Christo, no Jeff Koons. Some might argue we’d be better off without any of those.
Thanks to Duchamp, art today is anything you can get away with, which is liberating but which also opens up the hellhole to terrible crap that passes as art. The good, the bad, and the what-monsters-have-we-spawned.
Everybody who has studied modern art history knows about his “Fountain,” from out of which all of post-modern art has flown. Duchamp purchased a urinal from a plumbing supply store, signed it R. Mutt, and entered it in an art exhibit. When it was rejected. An anonymous letter sometimes attributed to Duchamp and sometimes to Beatrice Wood explained: “Whether Mr.Mutt with his own hands made the fountain or not has no importance. He CHOSE it. He took an ordinary article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view – created a new thought for that object.”
This opened the floodgates for found art, performance art, and conceptual art. Ironically, Duchamp often stated that he had no interest in aesthetics, but only in the idea; and yet many artists and critics have talked about the formal beauty of “Fountain.”
While thinking about this, I recalled my graduate thesis written in 1970. It was called A Ground for Today’s Art: An Alternative to the Frame-Pedestal Aesthetic. Pretty grandiose sounding, huh? In the book were some illustrations, including a collage I created. It pictured an African-American kid wearing a football uniform and a white youth in a baseball uniform. The caption reads: “Now son, you go down this way for two blocks and turn right. That’s the n….. ball park.”I didn’t use dots or dashes after the n.Today I would be embarrassed for anybody to see that collage because it contained the n-word. But at the time it was intended as a statement against racism and as an illustration of how insidiously that word had been insinuated into society and how casually it was used in my native South.
Thinking of that led me to a remembrance. It was 1977. I had recently returned home to Mississippi from New York with my new bride. There came a time in a conversation when my mother, a kind soul who would never intentionally hurt or belittle anyone, said something about “that sweet little n….. girl.” My wife was shocked at that. I was a little put off by it as well, but I knew she did not mean it in a vicious way. She was as casual about it as Mark Twain was when writing The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn — one of the greatest books in American literature, which has been banned in many places because of Twain’s use of the n-word.
At the time I was having these thoughts, I had recently finished my latest novel, Tupelo, which is set in the Deep South during the time of lunch-counter sit-ins and protest marches and the forced integration of schools and other public places. I could not write an honest book about that time and place without using the n-word, and yes, I spelled it out; I felt like I had to. During the time I was working on it I re-read a lot of Eudora Welty’s stories and Pat Conroy’s The Lords of Discipline, and I was surprised at how often they used the n-word. In my book, only racist characters use that word, but with Welty and Conroy it came out of the mouths of their narrators and characters who were not depicted as racist, but was used in the way my mother used it when she said “that sweet little n….. girl.” That was the way of the South. I wonder if Welty and Conroy and many other Southern writers of the mid- and late-20th century would use that word more sparingly or in different ways, if at all, if they were writing today.

In art and life and literature, from Duchamp to whomever comes along next, I guess we never stop changing.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Emily Adams: Wednesday, October 5th, 11:30-1:00 pm in the 2nd floor Recital Hall of the COM Building

Evergreen Artists Lecture Series - Tue, 10/04/2016 - 10:46am

emilyEmily L. R. Adams is an installation artist living in Olympia, WA. Her work often combines arrangements of altered found objects, with large-scale photo based screen prints. Her work examines issues of femininity, counter-culture, and war in a syntax that brings a quieting awareness through the power of the multiple. 

 Adams earned her BFA from the Columbus College of Art & Design (2005), and her MFA from the University of Wisconsin (2015). She is a recipient of the David and Edith Sinaiko Woman in the Arts Award, and her work has been featured in New American Painting Magazine. Adams has a breadth of printmaking experience; having worked with artists and master printers at the highly respected Pace Editions and Tandem Press.

 Adams currently works at The Evergreen State College as the printmaking technician, and adjunct faculty, teaching evening classes in printmaking and drawing.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

The Hound of the Baskervilles

South Sound Arts - Fri, 09/30/2016 - 8:19am
Sherlock Holmes like you’ve never seen at Lakewood PlayhousePublished in the Weekly Volcano, Sept. 29, 2016from left – Kayla Crawford as Dr. Watson, Gary Chambers as Sir Henry Baskerville, and Jacob Tice as Sherlock Holmes. Photo by Tim JohnsonThe Hound of the Baskervilles at Lakewood Playhouse is not the spooky version of the story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle but a spoof on it by Stephen Canny and the British comedy troupe Peepleykus (pronounced people like us). It is a Monty Python-style skit expanded to about two-and-a-half hours with bits apparently inspired by the Reduced Shakespeare Company and perhaps the Marx Brothers and the old Carol Burnett TV show — not to mention The 39 Steps, which director John Munn also directed at Lakewood Playhouse. Like The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged), the actors even stop at one point and replay the whole thing in a super-fast speeded-up version. And they not only break the mythical fourth wall, they shatter it to smithereens, even to the point of introducing themselves to the audience as themselves rather than as the characters they play, and they criticize one another’s acting.Yes, it is madcap, insane, and a daunting challenge to the director, actors and three-person backstage crew, all of whom together shall forever be known as the Magnificent Seven. The marvel is they almost pull it off. Almost. There are moments of comic genius and amazing acting, not to mention feats of backstage magic we can only surmise. But despite all this, I found myself at times wishing they would just get on with it and finish it up. Not all of it was as funny as hoped for. I noticed on the night I attended that the audience laughed, but not wildly, and sat stone-faced through long scenes.Three actors each play one major character and many others. The press release said 50 different characters. I didn’t try to keep count. I just know that many of them were named Baskerville and were played by Gary Chambers; Sherlock Holmes and a lot of other men and women were played by Jacob Tice, and Dr. Watson was played by Kayla Crawford. Of the three actors, Crawford plays her part almost without comic exaggeration. Chambers is rubber-faced and crazily funny, and Tice is not only rubber-faced but also rubber-bodied, with movements that bring to mind Monty Python’s “Ministry of Silly Walks.” There’s a great segment in a steam room with Watson (remember, she’s a woman in this version) trying to maintain her dignity when the two men keep dropping their towels, and a funny dance scene with Tice as a woman dancing with Chambers, and hilarious bits with a stuffed doll sporting Chambers’ long pony tail (he’s supposedly a dead member of the Baskerville family), and a scene on a train where Tice plays a conductor with a voice like the monster in Young Frankenstein, and a great little scene with Chambers and Crawford playing patty cake/hand jive. If you like such Vaudeville-type silliness, you’ll love this Hound of the Baskervilles.The Hound of the Baskervilles, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, through Oct. 9, Lakewood Playhouse, 5729 Lakewood Towne Center Blvd., Lakewood, $25, $22 military, $21 seniors and $19 students/educators, 253.588.0042,

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

14th Annual Juried Local Art Exhibition at Tacoma Community College

South Sound Arts - Fri, 09/30/2016 - 8:08am
Photo: “The Salon – Blue Boy,” painting by William Turner, courtesy Tacoma Community College
Published in the Weekly Volcano, Sept. 29, 2016“The Salon – Blue Boy,” painting by William Turner, all photos courtesy Tacoma Community College
The annual juried art exhibition at Tacoma Community College is usually a sampling of much of the best art created by South Sound artists. There is always admirable art to be seen, and this year is no exception; there are works worthy of admiration by such artists as Lois Beck, Susan Christian, Andrea L. Erickson, Fumiko Kimura, Becky Knold, Mary McCann, C.J. Swanson, David Noah Giles and many more — 41 total.On the downside there is far too much that is trite and predictable — sweet little statuettes, nice but uninspired landscapes and safe abstractions. Lois Beck’s little monoprint “Voodoo.” comprises a pair of concentric circles in soft, sandpapery, dull pink on a dark reddish field intersected by linear black shapes. It is simple and direct, with a sophisticated play of contrasting shapes and marks. It reminds me a lot of a drawing by Robert Motherwell I once saw, but much softer and less gutsy than any Motherwell.Susan Christian’s “House Boat” is an abstract painting on old sticks that have been glued together. It has the weathered look of an old fence or barn or, befitting the title, a houseboat that has been left out of the water for generations. The rugged texture and dull colors and one little red splotch dead-center make for an attractive configuration of shapes and colors. What more can you ask of a painting?"Geo Communication," acrylic on canvas by CJ SwansonMarquita L. Hunt is showing two landscapes in acrylic on canvas, one much better than the other. The best of these is the smaller one, a thin, vertical painting of trees and a field of grass with a mountain in the background. The larger one, with similar subject matter, is not as well unified. The trees and grasses separate in this one like puzzle pieces that don’t quite fit; whereas the smaller one, despite dividing the space into two clearly separate areas, holds together as a single image. I like her autumnal colors and Cezannesque choppy brushstrokes.Mary McCann’s “Precambrian Collision” is a dramatic mountain scene with low clouds, intense color and an enjoyable variety of brushstrokes and scratches. I saw this one earlier this year in a show in Olympia. I loved it then and still do, but in this setting it loses some I the power I saw in the smaller show.Had I been selecting show winners, I would have given the top awards to David W. Murdach and William Turner. Murdock is represented by two sculptural pieces, one free-standing and one a wall-hanging piece. Both are — if I may coin a phrase — steampunk rococo. Not a style I usually go for, but these pieces are funny, inventive, outlandishly decorative, and beautifully crafted. “Scalia, the Broccoli Man” is a relief sculpture of a floral pattern hanging on the wall and surrounded by gilded columns and pipes, and there is a gavel and a little man who looks to be made out of broccoli, with cartoonish white hands. His “Wall Street” is a free-standing carousel with music box. Instead of horses, this carousel has clowns, a pig, a bear, a silver frog, and Merlin the mythical magician. It is even more elaborately decorative than “Scalia.” It’s like Jeff Koons meets Gian Lorenzo Bernini.Turner’s “The Salon – Blue Boy” also harkens back to rococo art, specifically Gains borough’s “Blue Boy” with a bit of Vermeer thrown in for good measure. But stylistically it is more like a Matisse interior scene, but grittier.
The Gallery at Tacoma Community College, noon to 5 p.m. Monday-Thursday, through Oct. 28, Tacoma Community College, Building 5A, entrance off South 12th Street between Pearl and Mildred, Tacoma, visitor parking in Lot G. 

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

My Wandering Mind

South Sound Arts - Thu, 09/29/2016 - 11:59am

A visit to American LakeMy mind wanders across landscapes of memory, imagination and speculation. It happens most often when I’m driving and alone in the car, or when I’m taking a long, relaxing soak in a tub. At other times my mind stays relatively focused on the here and now. Well, sometimes.
This morning while driving to the VA hospital at American Lake for routine lab work I rehearsed in my mind what I am going to say at my book event at Orca Books in Olympia (Saturday, Oct. 15, 3-4 p.m.). I’ve decide that rather than reading complete scenes as I sometimes do — after all, isn’t that what authors do at readings? — or inviting actors to read scenes adapted as if for the stage, which I more commonly do, I will simply talk about my new novel, and perhaps read a few not complete scenes but sentences or paragraphs that illustrate what I have to say about the book.
So from 6:30 to 7 this morning while driving on I-5 in smoothly flowing traffic despite it being rush hour, I imagined myself standing in front of a small crowd in Orcas holding a copy of my book with the photo of twin boys on the cover and saying, “This is my book. I wrote it. It is the story of Kevin Lumpkin told in the first person from beyond the grave by Kevin, looking back over a long life at events in his youth in Tupelo, Mississippi.” Kevin remembers girls he had crushes on. He remembers football games and swimming in the local pool and in “Blue Hole” where the boys skinny dipped until the girls invaded, and Lake St. John in Louisiana near the birthplace of Jerry Lee Lewis. And he remembers the riots at the nearby University of Mississippi in Oxford when James Meredith became the first Black man to become a student at the previously segregated college.
My wandering mind settled down when I got to the hospital. Walking in, I suddenly realized that I couldn’t remember where the lab was, but then I remembered that I had to check in downstairs, and when I did, the man at the desk said, “Left off the elevator. Second floor.” Oh yes, I remembered.In previous visits the waiting room at the lab had always been full, and there was a long wait. But I had never before been there that early in the morning. There was only one other patient, and I got in almost immediately.
The woman who drew my blood was a middle aged Black woman with a broad smile. The doctors, nurses and administrators at the VA are always friendly and helpful. She told me she was from Atlanta, and I told her I was from Mississippi. She said her husband was from there, and we talked about the South while she drew three vials of blood.
After that I had to go pee in a cup and drop it back at the counter, and then I was done. Easy peasy. Back to the elevator. A tall, skinny man with a heavy gray mustache got in and said, “I think I’ve lost my mind. If you see it running around, grab it for me.”
I said all right, I would. I could relate. The elevator stopped at his floor and as he was getting off he said, “My appointment is not until next month.” I guess that was why he said he had lost his mind. I hope he hadn’t had a long drive to get there, and I wondered why, if his appointment is not until next month, he wasn’t leaving.
Walking back out to the parking lot I met an attractive Asian woman with deep dimples who flashed me a big smile and said, “Good morning” as she passed by. Following her lead, I said good morning to the next person who passed by, a man about my age with long hair wearing a Vietnam Veteran cap. He looked like David Crosby. He reached to shake my hand, called me “Bro,” and said, “I’m pissed. Look at that. They’re all employees,” pointing to a row of parked cars. “I’m going to take a picture and send it to Patty Murray.” I got his point. The first row of parking is reserved for employees. Patients, who are generally older and less easily able to walk the greater distance, have to park farther away from where they’re going.
I wonder if Patty Murray will respond to his letter if he actually writes it.

Back in the car heading back to Olympia, I thought about Marcel Duchamp. Thoughts of Duchamp led to remembering my graduate thesis, which led to thought about the use of the N word. And then I thought about how my mind tends to wander across landscapes of memory, imagination and speculation when I’m driving, and then I thought about how I’d like to write about some of these wandering thoughts and maybe post them on this blog — about how I might make it into a kind of semi-regular column.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

The Underpants at Tacoma Little Theatre

South Sound Arts - Sat, 09/24/2016 - 2:40pm
Published in The News Tribune, Sept. 23, 2016
Tacoma Little Theatre opens its 98thseason with a frothy bit of silliness called “The Underpants” from the multi-talented Steve Martin, renowned comic, actor, writer and musician who wrote the brilliant Picasso at the Lapine Agile. It is hard to believe that Steve Martin wrote this one.
At best, it is good for a few laughs. There is some entertaining word play, it pokes fun at sexist attitudes that were prevalent when the play is set, in the first decade of the 20th century – attitudes that in some quarters still exist today. It is also mildly risqué and would have been even more so in 1910.
Read the complete review.

Louise (Cassie Jo Fastabend)  and Gertrude (Deya Ozburn). All photos courtesy Dennis K. Photography
Daya Ozburn and Jed Slaughter
Cassie Jo Fastabend and Daya Ozburn
Ben Stahl and Cassie Jo Fastabend
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Resonating Objects

South Sound Arts - Sat, 09/24/2016 - 8:28am
Margaret Noble’s sound art at South Puget Sound Community College
Originally published in the Weekly Volcano, Sept. 22 and posted online at

Students interacting with Margaret Noble's sound art installation “Material Shrine for a New Class,” photo courtesy South Puget Sound Community CollegeSouth Puget Sound Community College gallery director Nathan Barnes said noted that Margaret Noble’s exhibition, Resonating Objects, begs the question “what is art?”. Is it just painting and sculpture? What about sound, movement, light? What are the boundaries between visual art and the performing arts? There are no easy answers, but Noble’s exhibition certainly raises the questions. 
Read the complete review at:
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

And We’re (nearly) DONE!

Sherwood Press - Fri, 09/23/2016 - 5:39pm
It all started with digging out the foundation. Terry and I removing shingles to expose rot below the big south-facing window. The window opening being prepared to receive the new window. The new window being fitted. Jocelyn and Betty next to the new old window, next to the new window. One last look up the 'Nutcracker' Douglas Fir. So long, and thanks for the majestic presence. Luis starting his climb. Luis approaching the tree-topping point. Fast-forward a bit to Terry surgically removing the tree stump. And the stump has been wrenched from its last earthly tether. Sad but, well, good. Ariel Biggerstaff prepping and opening our old windows! And the color begins! Old and New. The colors look good together. With wet paint one can see the circular saw marks from the old shingles.  the office window with Schanen at the computer. I wonder why they chose to mention 50 years when that fact would end up so dated. It's now 76. I started volunteering the year before this plaque went up.  RESTORED & REVIVED!!!


They say that time contracts when you’re busy, and I would have to say this feels true, especially of everything that’s happened since the close of our Indiegogo restoration campaign last December. It’s an understatement to say we were successful. We raised a whopping $17,429, a full 128% of our goal, and only a little over $1500 off of our stretch goal. We are SO very grateful to all the people who supported the press!

The winter was a busy one for us, as we wrapped up the campaign and continued shipping perks out as they came available. But as early spring approached, the REAL work began in earnest.

The first order of business was to excavate soil out from around the building. It had built up pretty badly and on the south side of the building had caused unexpected rot to the foundation, so right off the bat we were hit with unanticipated costs. Fortunately, my partner Terry is capable of anything and he managed the replacement of some beams and the south wall rim joist. We also had to remove shingles on the south wall below the window to expose and remove rot in the wall below the big window, and to get ready for the new window.

In late February, Ecowoodworks came out, deconstructed the old window, and carefully saved every pane of glass (but two) for the new window. Shop Foreman Devin Markoff personally handled the construction of the new window, and friends, it’s a thing of total beauty. The installation took place on March 17. It’s impossible to describe the feeling of satisfaction and gratitude the moment we were able to look out of this gorgeous, strong, weatherproof new window without the filter of worry and concern we used to feel with a rotting, leaking window. And remarkably, it’s a perfect match for the previous window, with a stain to match, the proper mill profile and the same old wavy glass that made the lake view even more special.

Next up was the (gulp) tree removal. This epic two-day project began on May 10th as Luis from Ron’s Tree Service got his gear on and started climbing the 180′ fir, cutting branches as he went up and lowering them each to the ground by rope so as not to damage anything below. At the end of day one, Luis cut the tree top out and we watched as he perilously swung to and fro at the top of the bare 100′ trunk.

The next day Luis climbed back up the tree and with the aid of a huge crane (that I never thought would make it up my narrow driveway), the tree started coming down in larger chunks than the day before. This time, the pieces were long enough to be milled at a future date and donated to various projects. It was another long day, but at the end of it, five huge logs had been hauled off to a yard to season, and the shorter pieces were stacked off to the side for future firewood and other uses.

Of course, there was also a huge stump surrounded by a large mound of soil. Terry and I decided that rather than pay to have it ground out, we would cut it out of the ground. Easier said than done! We dug and dug for weeks, trying to remove every little bit of soil and rock that would interfere with the saw blade. Then Terry got to work exposing each massive root and cutting through them one by one until the only thing that remained was the taproot going straight down. You wouldn’t believe the list of tools that were needed to get this stump detached from the earth! But at long last, on July 1st, Terry used his grandpa’s block and tackle to pull the stump over on its side, severing the last few inches of uncut taproot that remained. Another incredibly impressive accomplishment by Terry Bunce! It’s looks so beautiful where it rests, that we’ve decided to keep it there through the winter and will consider dragging it somewhere to rot in peace next year.

At this point we were exhausted, our budget was about spent, but we really wanted that last important thing… new paint.

The press hadn’t been painted in many, many years, and it showed. I don’t know how to put it any other way, but spiders had been pooping on the siding since the day after the last paint job, and even though I have washed as much as I could off every few years, spider poo is strangely resilient, and leaves little white streaks and droplets on the siding. We hired Ariel Biggerstaff from Great Bigg Painting Co. to come and prep the building while I looked at hundreds of color swatches and changed my mind a few too many times. But at long last, I found my color. It wasn’t easy to choose, because the press has been the same lichen-y, forest-service green since early days. Yet, I wanted to show in some more obvious way that the press was restored and ready for the future. New color really sends the message. I chose a deep blue-green to harmonize with the varied greens of maple leaves, woodland plants, Douglas Fir and ivy

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

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South Sound Arts - Wed, 09/21/2016 - 8:29am

What: The 10th Annual Lord Franzannian's Royal Olympian Spectacular Vaudeville Show!

Lordy, lordy, it's another Lord Franzannian's Royal Olympian Spectacular Vaudeville Show.
This is the 10th anniversary edition of this ever-popular show. Dance, music, comedy, storytelling, burlesque, puppets, sketch comedy, even feats of amazement!
This year the show will take place at Obsidian, a much larger space with a restaurant/café/coffee shop in the daylight hours, a full service bar serving beer and spirits at night, and a fully enclosed 80 seat black-box theater with an elevated stage located in the back.
Proceeds benefit working performers and BigShowCity, a non-profit Performing Arts Organization whose mission is: To help burgeoning artists realize their ambitions by providing financial and emotional support.

Special performance for an ALL AGES audience * on October 23 at 2 pm! 
When: October 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23* 2016

Time:  8:00 PM
*Special Youth Audience Show October 23 at 2:00 PM
Ticket Price: $15-$25 Available at the Door or Online(No one will be turned away at the door for lack of funds).
Appropriate for audiences over the age of 16. 
Special Youth Audience Show Ticket Price. *2PM Matinee on October 23rd: 15 years of age or under: $7.00. 

Tickets available at door night of show,
or to RESERVE A SEAT buy a ticket online at

Where: Obsidian 414 4th Ave E in downtown Olympia, WA. Across the street from the Artesian Well Park.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Changes coming starting today

South Sound Arts - Wed, 09/21/2016 - 7:58am
Things have changed since I started this blog. I am now writing many more reviews of both visual and performance art, and they are showing up online and in more blogs and publications - meaning posting my reviews here is becoming almost superfluous/redundant.

So . . . beginning today, instead of re-posting reviews that have been published elsewhere, I am going to post a lead-in with a link to the original as I did with the review of Shaw Osha's show at Salon Refu, which was posted in Oly Arts online and re-posted here moments ago (see below).

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Shaw Osha’s My love hath kissed in fixing at Salon Refu

South Sound Arts - Wed, 09/21/2016 - 7:42am
Published in Oly Arts online.

Salon Refu owner Susan Christion posted this on Facebook: “I have an art gallery, Salon Refu. This evening we finished installing a quiet, enticing, initially mysterious show of works by Shaw Osha, my friend and an important artist. Sometimes I don't understand what Shaw is doing in her work as an artist. Right now I do understand it. It's beautiful, thoughtful, compelled by feeling. You should come in and see what happens inside of you.”Shaw Osha is a painter and visual arts professor at The Evergreen State College known for her earlier figurative paintings in an abstract-expressionist style, works somewhat reminiscent of Richard Diebenkorn’s early figurative works and more recently for conceptual work.  
The work she is currently showing at Salon Refu is a radical departure from earlier work. It is a group of collages with dried flowers and a theme of racial relations that is not at all made clear in the work itself, the only hint being one piece that has collaged onto it in words cut from a newspaper “who is white” and “who is black.”

Read the complete review here.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

2016-2017 The Evergreen Art Lecture

Evergreen Artists Lecture Series - Tue, 09/20/2016 - 11:11pm

The Evergreen Art Lecture Series presents a broad range of interdisciplinary approaches to contemporary art issues by artists, writers, activists and scholars.  The emphasis is to introduce the way in which a variety of practices undertake fields of inquiry in the arts. The series provides a lively forum for the exchange of ideas between the speakers, students, faculty and the public. The series will take place in Lecture Hall 1 (after week 4) at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. Most of the talks take place on every other Wednesday during the quarter from 11:30-1:00 pm and are free and open to the public.

Fall Quarter 2016

Week 2, 10/ 5: Emily Adams, visual artist; Evergreen faculty and printmaking technician (location TBA)

Week 4, 10/19:  Geraldine Ondrizek, visual artist; her exhibition, Tracing Genetic Inheritance, is currently at the Evergreen Gallery (location TBA)

Week 6, 11/2: Charles Mudede, cultural critic, film maker and Associate Editor for The Stranger; LH1

Week 7, 11/9: Anna Moschovakis, poet, translator and editor (location TBA)

Week 8, 11/16: Molly Dilworth, visual artist, public art and creative research; LH1

Week 10, 12/7: Dakota Gearhart, visual artist; an artist-in-residence at Recology in Seattle; LH1

Categories: Arts & Entertainment
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