Arts & Entertainment

Elise Richman’s Spectral

South Sound Arts - Thu, 08/25/2016 - 2:05pm
Published in the Weekly Volcano, Aug. 25, 2016“Spectral,” mixed-media installation, photo courtesy MatterElise Richman’s unique installation, “Spectral,” may be difficult for many to grasp, but should be worth the effort to really look and contemplate deeply.Call it a wall hanging, a painting or assemblage with plastics, this piece explores properties of light and color and was inspired, according to a statement from the gallery, by the phenomenon of shimmering color seen in a butterfly’s wing. The term “spectral” means of or like a ghost, a phantom, incorporeal, insubstantial, otherworldly. A secondary definition is of or relating to a spectrum, which is what you get when sunlight passes through a prism to produce light of many colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. Richman’s “Spectral,” is all of that, but not in a spectacular, light-show kind of way. There are color changes that some viewers may find hard to see, and there is a visual investigation of the nature of absence of color.It can be seen as a single work of art with multiple parts or perhaps as two similar but contrasting works hung side-by-side. On the left are four flat panes of plastic in alternating colors: blue, yellow, blue, yellow. Dull colors, but with intensely colored edges. The blue edges are dark, and the yellow ones are like lemon-colored light. Matching in color are a group of rods that stand out from the wall above these sheets, and suspended from these rods are clear plastic sheets in the shape of tall, multi-faceted tents or umbrellas that are colorless but act as prisms. On the right, a similar arrangement consists of three tall, rectangular sheets of light blue plastic sheets with dark blue edges with more clear, tent-like prisms suspended in front of them.The installation needs to be studied slowly and from many points of view. Don’t approach it expecting something like a kaleidoscope and you might enjoy the subtly shifting and shimmering colors. Richman co-programs the Art+Sci Lecture Series at Tacoma Art Museum. She was a finalist for the 2015 Neddy Award, recipient of the 2014 Davis Teaching Award, and of the 2014 Foundation of Art Award from the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation. Richman explains: “The interplay between material form, environmental conditions and visual perception inform ‘Spectral.’ Repetition and transformation infuse the process of creating ‘Spectral’s’ shimmering three-D forms from rectangular sheets of plastic. Multiple incised lines transform flat Dura Lar into dimensional angles.“While these transparent forms have no inherent color they capture and are activated by light and color in the surrounding environment. Ever-shifting reflections express a state of constant interaction as in the shifting glow of a blue morpho’s delicate wing. Our own capacity for optical perception, as well as the interaction between matter and surrounding environments are integral to the manifestation of structural colors.” Also showing with Richman are The Bold and the Black, abstract sumi ink paintings by Selinda Sheridan, and original ceramics by Melissa Balch.

Spectral by Elise Richman, noon to 6 p.m., by chance and by appointment through Oct. 1, Saturdays Thursday- Saturday and by appointment; for appointment call Lisa Kinoshita 253.961.5220, Matter, 821 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.879.3701.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Six Characters in Search of an Author

South Sound Arts - Thu, 08/25/2016 - 2:03pm

Blurring the line between fiction and realityPublished in the Weekly Volcano, Aug. 25, 2016Steve Gallion as the Father and Kathryn Grace Philbrook as the Director, photos courtesy New Muses Theatre
New Muses Theatre Company is among a handful of lesser-known companies that produces excellent theater for mostly sparse audiences. By my count, here were only 10 people in the audience opening night of Luigi Pirandello’s absurdist play Six Characters in Search of an Audience. The actors outnumbered the audience by one. That small audience witnessed an intelligent, challenging, well-written and well-acted play.It is a play that calls into question the relationships between fiction and reality, between actors and the characters they play, and between characters and the author. In New Muses’ interpretation, it starts before it starts with a bit of pre-curtain play between two actors (Vivian Bettoni and Eric Cuestas-Thompson) playing a couple of unnamed actors running lines before rehearsal. They stand off to the side and speak softly as the audience enters. Most of the audience can’t hear them and perceptibly pay no attention. It is almost as if the audience is an unwilling part of the play. I was sitting close to the two actors and could hear that their dialogue was about the age-old question of the chicken and the egg. The play they are preparing to rehearse is Mixing It Up, also by Pirandello. I thought this pre-play bit was inventive but slightly confusing, and that it was too long. But it segued nicely into the actual play, which starts out even more confusing but soon begins to make sense. And it did make me wonder if others who seemed to be entering as audience members might also be actors. Amina Ali and Steve GallionJust as the director (Kathryn Grace Philbrook) gets ready to start the rehearsal, a strange family invades the theater. The director tells them it’s a closed rehearsal and they have to leave, but they refuse. The father (Steve Gallion) says they are looking for an author. They are unfinished characters in an unfinished play, and they have to find the author in order to complete themselves. At first, the director is outraged, but as the father and his stepdaughter (Amina Ali) began to tell their story, the director becomes intrigued and decides to produce their story as a play with the highly skeptical actors playing the parts of these real characters. So the director and the family argue over their story and how to present it, and the family — most adamantly father and the stepdaughter, who laughs outrageously in the actors’ faces, —thinking the actors are doing a terrible job of portraying them.The family’s story is that the father had sent his wife (Becky Cain-Kellogg) and their son (Karter Duff) away, and she later had three more children by another man: two younger children (11-year-old Corey Cross and 7-year-old Keiralee Monta), and the now grown stepdaughter, whom the father tried to seduce, ostensibly not knowing who she was.It is a wild and imaginative play filled with absurdist arguments about what is real and what is play acting and about the relationships between actors, the characters they play, and authors, without whom the characters cannot exist. It is presented in the round with no set decoration and no set pieces other than a table and a few chairs.Niclas Olson, founder and managing artistic director of New Muses, adapted Pirandello’s play and does a fine job of directing it. The three lead characters, Gallion, Philbrook and Ali, are outstanding, making unbelievable characters totally believable. Ali is brash and seductive, and has a marvelous laugh. Philbrook plays the director as a most complex character, arrogant and sure of herself, which turns out to be a cover-up for self-doubt. She beautifully and convincingly portrays the director’s astonishment at the audacity to these interlopers at her rehearsal. And by-the-way, the director was a man in the original. Gallion plays the father as a kind of bumbling but sincere man who lurches around the stage in a manner that brings to mind Peter Falk as Columbo. I’ve seen Gallion in only one other play, New Muses’ Romeo and Juliet; I hope to see much more of him.Six Characters in Search of an Author is presented in one act and runs approximately 90 minutes.Six Characters in Search of an Author, 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 2 p.m., Sunday through Aug. 28, $10, Dukesbay Theater, Merlino Arts Center, 508 S. Sixth Ave.,

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Urban Sketchers at Handforth Gallery

South Sound Arts - Sat, 08/13/2016 - 7:24am

Candid shots of T-town in pen, ink and watercolorPublished in the Weekly Volcano, Autg. 11, 2016“Theater District Downtown Tacoma,” masthead sketch for Urban Sketchers Tacoma website by Mark RyanThe Urban Sketchers exhibition at Handforth Gallery in the downtown Tacoma Public Library is delightfully lightweight.The walls are filled with quick sketches in pencil, pen and ink, watercolor and other media of mostly local scenes familiar to many Tacomans—some by well-known local artists and some by artists known only to friends and family.Urban Sketchers is a nationwide movement for artists who love to draw the area where they live, work, or visit. Their works are executed while looking out a window at home, from a cafe, standing by a street-corner, or other convenient location.
The local group, Tacoma Urban Sketchers, typically meets at a designated spot in the morning and then disperses to sketch until noon. During the summer, there is an afternoon sketching session. There are sketch outings on the first Saturday of each month and on the third Wednesday year around. Works from this group currently on display in the library are like candid photos of local people and places,only they’re not photos; they are artworks typically done in a loose, free and quick manner.  “Neck Brace Guy,” a pencil sketch by Helen Phillips  pictures a man wearing a neck brace seated in an airplane as seen from the side and back. I can imagine he never suspected he was being drawn. The style looks a lot like a lithograph, which is interesting because it lends to the picture a gritty texture not usually seen in pencil drawings. “The Breakfast Club,” pen and wash by R.J. Lane, is one of the few pieces in the show not of a Tacoma-area scene. It is a sketch of patrons in Carla’s Country Kitchen in Morro Bay, Calif. The great casually rendered expressions on their faces are fun to contemplate. A watercolor called “Blanket Stories” by Kate Buike pictures the great sculpture by the same name that is on permanent display against the front wall of the Tacoma Art Museum. It is cropped and pictured from an intriguing angle with the dome of Union Station seen in the background.“Fort Nisqually Southwest Corner” by Ken Fulton is one of a few almost pure line drawings in the show, with strong dark and light contrasts in the rare shaded areas.A similar drawing, but less sketchy and more nicely controlled is Frances Buckmaster’s ink drawing “Breakwater Marina, Point Defiant.”There are three excellent line drawings by Paul Morris: “Union Station,” “Thea Foss Waterway” and “Downtown Library Alley View.”A couple of other works of note are K.D. Keckler’s “Swiss House Gathering,” another scene of diners, and Roy Steiner’s “Abandoned Van Lierop Farm,” depicting an abandoned barn painted blue with tall grasses and a leafless tree in front of it. This is the only picture in the show that has no line-drawing element. The media was not listing on the wall label, but it looks like gouache.
Find out more about the local Urban Sketchers at and
Handforth Gallery at Tacoma Public Library, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays-Saturday, through Sept. 6, 1102 Tacoma Ave. S, Tacoma
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

StoryOly final slam and Grand Slam

South Sound Arts - Sat, 08/13/2016 - 7:07am

Published in the Weekly Volcano Aug. 11, 2016On the 16th of August, South Sound storytellers will entertain a sure-to-be packed house at Rhythm and Rye in Olympia for the last of this year’s StoryOly story slams before the 12 top storytellers of the year meet in the Grand Slam on Sept. 17.Every month on the third Tuesday approximately 10 storytellers show off their skills and vie for first place in the raucous storytelling event. I’ve attended all but a few of the events this year and can attest that they truly are raucous, and the crowd responses are fabulous. The majority of the stories are funny; many are risqué; a few are sad, scary or touching — such as the wonderfully sweet story Keith Eisner told in July about the birth of his now 40-year-old son. Eisner is a professional writer, actor and director. Many of the storytellers are professional writers or entertainers, as are co-founders Elizabeth Lord and Amy Shephard, but even more are amateurs who mount the stage and tell their personal stories for the first time, usually in the face of great fear. And they are usually great.Elizabeth Lord. Photos courtesy Story OlyCommunity members come together every month to share, compete and tell true stories based on a monthly theme. Past themes have included “I Got What I Deserved,” “Family,” and “Revenge.” People who want to tell a story put their names in a hat, and 10 names are drawn at random. Each storyteller is allowed eight minutes. The stories must be true and personal, no rants, speeches or religious testimony, and no reading from notes or scripts. After each story volunteer judges from the audience hold up cards with scores from one to 10. The judges tend to be kind; I’ve never seen a score lower than five. The winner from each month gets to compete in the Grand Slam in September. Winners are: Devin Felix (Nov.), Jim Foley (Dec.), Sam Miller (Jan.), a three-way tie between Billie Mazzei, Maggie Lott and Christian Carvajal, (Feb.), Lori Nesmith (March), Rey White (April), Matthew Trenda (May), Anders Hornblat (June), Eisner in July, and a final winner to be determined this month. Eisner will be out of town the weekend of the Grand Slam and unable to participate.Shepard is an actor and choreographer well known for her work at Harlequin Productions, most recently in Little Shop of Horrors as both choreographer and one of the singing and dancing Doo-Wops. “It's been incredible to see how StoryOly events have blossomed since we started last November,” Shephard says. “Elizabeth and I are so grateful for the attendance and participation of our community. With each show we get to hear stories from many different voices, perspectives and backgrounds. If that weren't wonderful enough, there is the fact that when a patron buys a ticket, they know that not only will they see an amazing show but that half of their ticket price is going directly to Olympia SafePlace. So when you come to a story slam you not only support us, you support victims of sexual and domestic violence through wonderful organizations like SafePlace.”Lord, a professional storyteller and member of the Heartsparkle Players, is also founder and host of Lord Franzannian's Royal Olympian Spectacular Vaudeville Show. Lord says, “I love StoryOly. I especially love how successful it's been. Full houses most nights. Its success is a confirmation of something I've always known to be true: live, oral storytelling is a powerful medium. Nothing replaces a human telling you a story, right there in front of you. Plus, with StoryOly (Like the Moth Storytelling events) the audience hears true personal stories that resonate with the universal human experience. Oral Storytelling makes the world smaller, more understandable, and of course entertaining.”Story Oly, every third Tuesday, 5:30-8 p.m., Rhythm & Rye, 311 Capitol Way,
Olympia, 360.705.-0760. Grand Slam Sept. 17.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

A Night on Broadway at Olympia Little Theatre

South Sound Arts - Thu, 08/11/2016 - 12:12pm
Olympia Little Theatre presents A Night on Broadway an evening of song and dance with Harry O'Hare and Micheal O'Hara in a special benefit performance for the theater, two performances only, Saturday, Aug. 27 at 7 p.m. and a Sunday matinee Aug. 28 at 2 p.m.
The couple with the sound-alike last names have been married for a long, long, long time and have been a staple on the Tacoma theater scene for almost that long. I cannot count the times I have had the pleasure of reviewing plays they’ve been in — mostly musicals, but sometimes dramatic plays as well. Sharry was most recently seen at OLT as the mother in Life is Complicated, a dramatic role in which she played the heavy. Other memorable roles have included that of Patsy Cline’s friend, Louise Seger in Always . . . Patsy Cline at Tacoma Little Theatre and as Lily in Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks with her husband, Micheal, also at TLT. Micheal has also performed in countless musicals around the South Sound and has also directed many. When performing together there is undeniable chemistry between the O’Hare-O’Haras.
But I will let Sharry tell about themselves:
We have been singing together for 25 years, totally separate from the theatre roles we perform.  When we first married in 1990, we loved the idea about the similar names and how we could capitalize on using them for a show:  SHARRY O'HARE . . .MICHEAL O'HARA.  But we had such totally different styles, Micheal a trained singer who read music and I was post-vaudeville. There was a gig I was supposed to sing at shortly after we married with my then singing partner, Frank Kohel, and something happened that he couldn't make it, so Micheal stepped in and we discovered with him being a tenor and me an alto that made for an interesting combination.
Throughout the years we have performed at a variety of venues, many worthy of story telling.  We rarely turned down an opportunity to perform as we really enjoyed the audience connection on a more personal level.  For the past 5 years or so, we have "donated" ourselves for fund raising auctions at theatres, retirement homes and some private organizations.  Those are great fun because you never know who is going to bid or where you are going to end up performing.
Here is a sampling of some of our "stages" we've done our variety show on:  street fairs, fitness centers, a tugboat holiday party, paper doll conventions, mental facilities, business openings, baptisms and funerals, apple squeezes and ice cream socials, garden soirees, retirement homes, banquets, and in the homes of people who are having a special event. And my all-time favorites, the ubiquitous fraternal clubs to include the Kiwanis, Chambers of Commerce, Oddfellows, Elks, Eagles, Lions Club, Knights of Columbus and my personal favorite, the Moose Lodges.
For OLT, we are doing our standard 11 songs, and we are adding 6 more new pieces that we are feverishly learning right now. Our accompanist is Debra Leach, who has played for us the past 20 years.  We try to find a nice balance of older standards that everyone knows and then throw in some newer songs from Broadway shows that they might not have heard.  We chat throughout, just like we are in their living rooms and the audience is always a part of our act.  That is the connection I was talking about.  Unlike a character you play, we are in full view of everyone and we can see them and their reactions.  We don't bring people up on stage, but we may include them in general statements or ask if they know what show a song comes from.  The program will probably be an hour and we will bring out our glitzy duds.
For almost every show like this that we have done, we have always been invited to stay after, commune with the folks and that has been what I love--getting to know the people around you and finding new friends.

A Night on Broadway at Olympia Little Theatre Saturday, Aug. 27, 7 p.m. and Sunday, Aug. 28 at 2 p.m.1925 Miller Ae., NE, Olympia(360) 786-9484Tickets available at $20 for a single ticket / $30 for two!
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Preview: 2016-2017 Theatrical Season

South Sound Arts - Thu, 08/04/2016 - 4:13pm

Published in The News TribuneDebbie Sampson and Ryan Holmberg in “Guido in Therapy” from an earlier edition of Improbable Peck of Plays. Photo courtesy Theater Artists Olympia
The theater season is a lot like a wedding: something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.To look at what’s in store for South Sound audiences, let’s start with Tacoma Little Theater. TLT’s season includes Steve Martin’s comedy “The Underpants,” a delightfully twisted comedy about a German woman who loses her bloomers during a parade in 1910. For something old that never dies, TLT is doing “Dracula,” adapted by Steven Dietz and directed by pug Bujeaud. Also scheduled is “Exit Laughing,” a Southern Gothic farce about a night of bridge with three women and the ashes of the fourth, the last of whom recently passed away.Lakewood Playhouse opens with “The Hound of the Baskervilles” and Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penance.” In between these in a season of great diversity will be the Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play, “Doubt,” a drama about a priest accused of sexual misconduct by a nun. It was also an Academy Award-winning film with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Meryl Streep. Tacoma Musical Playhouse’s 2016-2017 season opens with the wonderfully creepy, and kooky musical “TheAddams Family,” based, of course, on the popular television series. In this grown-up and updated version of the wacky show about a family of monsters, daughter Wednesday is now grown up and – heaven forbid – in love with a normal boy. For something old there’s “Meet Me in St. Louis,” a holiday musical about the 1904 World’s Fair, and for something blue it’s “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story.”In what is becoming South Sound’s favorite holiday tradition, Centerstage in Federal Way will produce another Panto — this one a twisted retelling of the story of “Little Red Riding Hood.” Be prepared for cross dressing villains, outrageous audience participation, and jokes that tickle kids on one level and delight adults on quite a different level.’s Harlequin Productions will do Tracy Letts’ 2008 Pulitzer Prize winner “August: Osage County.” Sometimes called a black comedy, it is arguably more drama than comedy. Set in a farm house in Oklahoma, it gets into the heart of a family wracked by alcoholism, drug addiction and a myriad other dysfunctions. Olympia’s popular children’s theater, Olympia Family Theater, will produce an original musical whodunit called “Fishnapped! this season, written by local actors turned playwright Amy Shepard, Andrew Gordon and Daven Tillinghast. This world premiere musical is recommended for all ages and is scheduled for a spring premiere. Pug Bujeaud from Theater Artists Olympia says the theme of their upcoming season will be “sexy and sensual.” TAO’s season opens in October with their annual “An Improbable Peck of Plays,” a showcase of one-act plays by local playwrights. In December Bujeaud will direct what she calls a “sexy” version of Moliere’s “A Physician in Spite of Himself.” TAO is the South Sound’s riskiest fringe theater. Their productionsare almost always outstanding.Something borrowed is Olympia Little Theatre’s “Or,” which played not too long ago at Seattle Repertory Theatre and at Olympia’s Harlequin Productions. It is a strange, beautiful, madcap, gender-bending farce based on the life of Aphra Behn, England's first female professional playwright, who also happened to be a spy. For something new (about something old) at OLT, it’s “A Lollard in the Wind” by local playwright and actor John Pratt, an original play about Geoffrey Chaucer and his writing of The Canterbury Tales.alec@alecclayton.comCheck Alec’s blog at for reviews of other area theatrical productions. SIDEBAR: Season previewINFORMATION: Tacoma Little Theatre, 210 North I St., Tacoma, 253-272-2281, Playhouse, 5729 Lakewood Towne Center Blvd., Lakewood, 253-588-0042, www.lakewoodplayhouse.orgTacoma Musical Playhouse, 7116 Sixth Avenue Tacoma, 253-565-6867, http://www.tmp.orgCenterstage, 3200 SW Dash Point Rd., Federal Way, 253-661-1444, Productions, 202 4thAve. E., Olympia, 360-706-0151, Family Theatre, 612 4th Ave. E., Olympia, 360-570-1638, Artists Olympia, Midnight Sun Performance Space, 113 Columbia St. NW, Olympia, 360-292-5179, https://olytheater.comOlympia Little Theatre, 1925 Miller Ave. NE, Olympia, 360-786-9484,

Categories: Arts & Entertainment


South Sound Arts - Thu, 08/04/2016 - 6:48am

Tacoma Little Theatre is pleased to welcome Found Space Productions, and their production of STOP KISS, by Diana Son.

A poignant and funny play about the ways, both sudden and slow, that lives can change irrevocably.  After Callie and Sara meet, their fast friendship leads to an unexpected attraction.  Their first kiss provokes a violent attack that transforms their lives.

STOP KISS is directed by Suzy Willhoft after a successful reading at UPS.  It will feature the talents of Emily Cohen, Chevi Chung, Cassie Jo Fastabend, and Nick Spencer.

STOP KISS will run Friday, August 18, 2016 and Saturday, August 19, 2016.  All showing are at 7:30pm.  This show is recommended for ages 13 and older,

Tickets are $10.00 for all seats and may be purchased online at, or by calling our Box Office at (253) 272-2281.  Group rates are available for 10 or more.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

No Theater Review This week

South Sound Arts - Fri, 07/29/2016 - 1:13pm
I am taking a break from writing theater reviews. Watch for upcoming season previews in both The News Tribune and the Weekly Volcano and for a story about Olympia's story slam, Story Oly in the Aug. 11 edition of the Weekly Volcano.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Colored pencil art

South Sound Arts - Fri, 07/29/2016 - 1:09pm
Photo: “Len (Roofer)” colored pencil, by John Smolko, courtesy American Art Company

Surprisingly impactful show at American Art Company
Published in the Weekly Volcano, July 28, 2016
“Len (Roofer)” colored pencil, by John Smolko, courtesy American Art CompanyThe Colored Pencil Society of America's 24 International Exhibition at American Art Company is surprising on many levels. For starters, the 119 works of art that crowd the gallery walls are really paintings, not drawings, by almost any criteria, despite being done with pencils. Second, the detailed technical expertise and attention to detail in each and every work is mind-boggling.
As a longtime artist, critic and former teacher, I feel obligated to point out that pretty pictures skillfully executed do not necessarily qualify as art. (I think this is what the critic Peter Plagens was referring to when he coined the phrase “wall fodder.”) Art must at least strive toward something higher — call me an elitist or a snob if you must, but art should be transformative.
These are not transformative works, but they are mind-boggling in their skill. The intensity, dedication and patience it must have taken for these artists to create these works is almost beyond comprehension.
Nearly all of the works shown are photo-realist or trompe l’oeil paintings. In most, you have to look close and hard to even see that there are pencil marks; in some, I would defy anyone to see a single pencil mark, not even with a magnifying glass.
There are a few exceptions, and I wish there were more. One of the exceptions is John Smolko's "Len (Roofer),” a portrait of a working man taking a break from his work. He sits on the peak of a roof looking out in a contemplative stare. It is a highly realistic picture, yet Smolko does not attempt to hide his pencil marks. There are definite contour lines, most noticeably on the arms. Energetic, swirling lines almost reminiscent of a Jackson Pollock painting fill the background and even overlap the figure in places. The use of these marks seems to be the artist’s way of reminding the viewer that it is, after all, a drawing. Plus, these marks unify figure and background and energize the picture.
Another exception is Jill Kline's "Cause and Effect." This is a picture of a young woman seen in an extremely foreshortened view standing on or above what looks like a landscape seen from an airplane. There is a heroic and almost unreal quality to the image, even though she too is drawn realistically. The shading is simplified and looks like it was done with pastels, and there are definite outlines around the body that, like the marks in Smolko’s drawing, announce that yes, this is a drawing.
Perhaps the most astounding of the many astoundingly hyper-realist works is Jesse Lane’s “Resolve.” This is a portrait of a dripping-wet man in extreme close-up. Water drips down his face and pours off his chin. The background is solid black, and his face glows as if under a spotlight. The luminosity and heightened contrast of this one is powerful, but may be a little too stagey for some viewers.
There are a lot of flower pictures, many portraits, a lot of old things — such as old typewriters and rusted old cars and trucks — a few landscapes and animal pictures and dreamscapes. As noted, they are all realistic in style. Most are also nicely composed. They have to be admired for their technical skill. They also have hefty price tags, ranging from around $2,000 to $20,000.
Despite what might have been implied by my earlier remarks about pretty and skillful not being sufficient to constitute art, I very much enjoyed seeing this show.
Colored Pencil Society of America's 24 International Exhibition, Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., through Aug. 13, American Art Company, 1126 Broadway Plaza, Tacoma, 253.272.4327,

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Wool See (IAME) “Buddy Insole” at Accession Art Exhibit

K Records - Fri, 07/22/2016 - 12:01pm
“Buddy Insole” is the latest cascade of words from Wool See, aka IAME. It’s been 12 years since IAME teamed up with director & visual artist Spencer Keeton Cunningham to create the music video for one of his best known songs to date, “The Abyss.” Recently they reunited in Portland and collaborated once again on […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Creative Colloquy

South Sound Arts - Fri, 07/22/2016 - 9:10am

South Sound’s premiere reading eventPublished in the Weekly Volcano, July 21, 2016The Creative Colloquy team listening to a reading at B Sharp Coffee House from left: Jenni Prange Boran, Joshua Swainston, Melissa Thayer, William Turbyfil, Chris Casella and Jackie Fender. Photo by Lee Heath.Created by Jackie Fender a little more than two years ago, Creative Colloquy has become the South Sound’s preeminent literary event. Creative Colloquy is an online magazine featuring short stories, novel excerpts, poetry and other literary work by mostly Tacoma and Olympia writers. Starting in March of 2014, CC started holding readings at B Sharp Coffee House once a month.“That first event came along and I anticipated a room full of just our friends and family. Instead, 60 people came out, many complete strangers to everyone involved in that first reading, and it was clear from that day that CC was filling a void that many of us had felt,” Fender says.The public readings featured, in the first hour, local authors reading the stuff they had published in the online CC publication, followed by an open mic in the second hour with brave local writers, some professional and some beginners, reading their stuff in public for the first time. It was a huge hit from the start.“When it comes down to it, I started CC at the prompting of my writer friends who daydreamed of a platform to share stories. The CC vision of contributing to the local literary culture has exceeded anything we could have hoped for. It's a lovely beast where established and novice writers of all genres can connect and share,” Fender says.In celebration of their first year, CC published an anthology of local writers and held a Creative Crawl, a kind of literary arts walk with readings in many downtown Tacoma venues such as King’s Books, Sanford and Son, Embellish Multispace Salon and others. CC has now published its second anthology and is scheduled for a second Creative Crawl in October with readings at Zodiac Supper Club, Kings Books, Tacoma Cabana, Doyle’s Public House, Odd Otter, Harmon’s Tap Room, Destiny City Comics and B Sharp.“We have returning community partners like Drunken Telegraph and UWT curating line-ups as well as some new faces producing storytelling hours like Beautiful Angle. The inaugural C3 was pretty amazing and boasted an impressive attendance and we are looking forward to making this year a larger and more astonishing production. Should be a lot of fun,” Fender said. Among the regular readers at the monthly events are local favorites such as Christian Carvajal, Titus Burley, Marissa Meyer, William Turbyfil, Lucas Smiraldo, Melissa Thayer and Jennifer Chushcoff.This year Olympia CC has started with readings at Traditions Café, which will move to Forrey’s Forza Banquet Room in Lacey in August.“It’s amazing to see how much support Creative Colloquy has gotten,” said assistant director Joshua Swainston. “The witing talents for the South Sound seems to be an endless well. We never know who’s out there until we put out the call for submissions, and we are always surprised and delighted by what we get from the community in return.”Creative Colloquy, every third Monday at 7 p.m., B Sharp Coffee House, 706 Opera Alley, Tacoma, and every first Monday at 6:30 pm, Forrey’s Forza Banquet Room,130, Marvin Road Southeast, Lacey. Creative Crawl, Mon., Oct 5, 6-9 p.m., various locations in downtown Tacoma.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Other Desert Cities

South Sound Arts - Fri, 07/22/2016 - 9:06am

 Published in The News Tribune, July 22, 2016
Bonnie Vandver as Silda, James T. Patrick as Lyman, Toni Murray as Polly, Cameron Wates as Trip, and Silva Goetz as Brooke. Photo by Toni C. HolmOlympia Little Theatre quotes the New York Times’ description of Jon Robin Baitz’s Pulitzer Prize nominee “Other Desert Cities” as a “witty, deeply enjoyable family drama.” Such a description could easily mislead people into expecting a light comic-drama, and this play is anything but light comedy. There’s comedy, yes. Biting, witty, sarcastic word play between five family members whose sophisticated banter balances on the edge of outright warfare.
Lyman Wyeth (James T. Patrick) and his wife, Polly (Toni Murray) are the epitome of wealthy Americans wasting away past their prime in self-satisfied pseudo comfort. Both retired, he was a B-movie cowboy star famous for long death scenes, and she was a writer along with her cowriter sister Silda (Bonnie Vandver) of a long-running television series. The Wyeths are Republican party functionaries. Silda, a recovering alcoholic, is politically liberal, as are the Wyeth children, Brooke (Silva Goetz), a successful writer suffering from depression, and Trip (Cameron Waters), a reality TV producer.
It’s Christmas 2004, and Brooke has come home from the East Coast to visit her family. She has brought with her a manuscript of her soon-to-be-published book, an explosive memoir that reveals family secrets and threatens to destroy whatever family unity still remains.
The setting is a suitably beige, ultra-modern desert home beautifully designed by Christopher Valcho that highlights the false comfort and respectability of the elder Wyeths and contrasts with the internecine family dynamics.
The writing is intelligent, and the story structure is classic, building steadily toward an unexpected and totally satisfying twist at the end.
The ensemble cast is solid. Patrick plays the family patriarch as a calm and reasonable peace-maker who quietly seethes with anger. Murray plays Polly as proud and sure of herself but more willing to let her anger show than is her husband. Waters plays Trip as laid-back, humorous, and wise beyond his years. Vandver is outlandish and wonderful as the outspoken Silda, who is disdainful of her sister and brother-in-law, and who is one-hundred percent on Brooke’s side and encourages her to not back down on publishing her memoir – which her parents desperately want her not to do. And this brings us to Brooke, the catalyst of all the drama. Goetz plays her as a mass of nervous ticks, quickly going from throwing witty barbs to tossing lethal bombs. She is smart, angry, mistrustful and filled with self-doubt, all of which she displays with powerful physical acting that crowds up to the edge of over acting without crossing the line.
“Other Desert Cities” is not an easy play to watch. It starts out as a sophisticated comedy and quickly becomes weighty. There is a quietly intense scene near the end that had audience members the night I saw it holding their breath in anxious anticipation. That’s good writing, good acting, and good direction from Toni C. Holm. At approximately two-and-a-half hours, it is a bit wearying, but worth sitting through. The one major fault is that the actors do not always project clearly, making some of the dialogue hard to hear. The theater does have hearing aids available for audience members to check out, but it would help if the actors wore microphones.
WHEN: 7:55 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 1:55 p.m., through July 24WHERE: Olympia Little Theatre, 1925 Miller Ave., NE, Olympia TICKETS: $11-$15, available at Yenney Music, 2703 Capital Mall Dr., Olympia, 360.786.9484INFORMATION: (360)786-9484,

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

2016 Southwest Washington Juried Exhibition

South Sound Arts - Fri, 07/22/2016 - 8:51am

Regional artists shine at SPSCC
Published in the Weekly Volcano, July 21, 2016
“21st Century Oxpecker” painting by Jason Sobottka, courtesy South Puget Sound Community CollegeUpon entering the 2016 Southwest Washington Juried Exhibitionat South Puget Sound Community College, my eyes were immediately drawn to Bernie Bleha’s sculpture, “Minaret,” acrylic on wood, a colorful tower topped by a playful spire that looks like a tinker toy construction. From there, my gaze went to Carla Louise Paine’s painting, “I Died for Beauty,” an oil portrait of a contemporary woman in a flower-strewn interior painted in a style reminiscent of Rococo portraiture yet in a clearly modern setting. Both the Bleha sculpture and Paine’s painting are Merit Award selections from juror Esther Luttikhuizen.
“I Died for Beauty,” oil on canvas by Carla Louise Paine, courtesy South Puget Sound Community CollegeSPSCC has earned a reputation for cutting-edge shows like New York artist Benjamin Enterner’s installation of monstrous blow-up vinyl sculptures and Amanda McCavour's Embroadered Spaces, and for fun local shows such as their annual postcard exhibition. Compared to those, this exhibition is staid and safe. There is very little that is challenging, but there surely is a lot of good, solid artwork on display, not a badly executed piece in the show. Paintings dominate. There is not much sculpture, ceramics or photography. I’ll mention here just a few of my favorite pieces.
Olympia artist Gail Ramsey Wharton has her weird sense of humor on display with a couple of mixed-media collages: “Modern Family” and “Department of Humor Analysis.” The former is like Picasso’s “Family of Saltimbanques” moved to a modern-day beach with a frolicking family with weird faces that don’t match bodies; the latter is purportedly a graph showing the funniest places to hit a baby with a ball. Wharton’s collages are bizarre and skillfully executed.
Next to “Modern Family” are two more beach scenes, these from Marianne Partlow’s “Boys on the Beach” series, soft and simplified bodies in glowing pastel colors.David Noah Giles, a recent transplant to Tumwater from Seattle, is showing a large abstract painting called “Times Square.” Filled with repetitive, similar but not identical shapes that dance across the surface in energetic movement, this painting is like an abstract expressionist version of Mondrian’s abstract city scene with the usual AE drips and splatters and collage elements that create a rugged surface. Had I been the judge, I would have picked this one for an award.
Next to Giles’s painting is another large abstract-expressionist painting, “Through the Rain” by Debra Van Tuinen, a local artist of long standing in the community. It is a field of bright orange and gold slashes of paint that almost cover the entire surface of the canvas like sheets of wind and rain. This is a stunning painting that captures the emotional power of a storm without resorting to imitative depiction of the subject matter.Another favorite is Jason Sobottka’s “21st Century Oxpecker.” I had to Google Oxpecker to find out it is a kind of bird. I don’t remember seeing a bird in this painting, and there’s no mention of a bird in the notes I took. What I do remember seeing is a rhinoceros all decked out and ready for interstellar war, with glitter and what the artist calls “googly-eyes.” This is a funny, inventive, and nicely painted image.
There are a lot of talented artists in Southwest Washington. This show offers ample proof of that.
South Puget Sound Community College, Kenneth J Minnaert Center for the Arts Gallery, Monday-Friday, noon-4 p.m. through Aug. 25, 2011 Mottman Rd. SW. Olympia, 360.596.5527.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Peacocks, houses and muses

South Sound Arts - Fri, 07/15/2016 - 9:36am
"Modigliani's Muse" plaster, acrylic and crayon on board by Lynette Charters, all photos courtesy the artist

Recent paintings by Lynette Charters
Published in the Weekly Volcano, July 14, 2016
“Housing Boom” Lynette Charters’ paintings are unique, not just in her use of media — china marker over acrylic paint mixed with plaster — but in her way of painting. On wood panels, she creates fields of heavily textured globs of color that are almost if not completely non-objective, and then either draws on top of those fields of color with the markers or creates line drawings by scraping into the not-yet-dried plaster, or in the case of some of her “muses” series, she tapes off areas to create negative images of figures in unpainted wood. Typically, similar methods of painting are seldom effective, because they create a separation between figure and ground, and because the end result is a figurative drawing on top of an abstract painting, which in the hands of lesser artists becomes trite and tricky. Not so in most of Charters’’ paintings. Through skillful manipulation of paint, she integrates figure and ground and creates a delicate balance of harmony and contrast between the abstract and the figurative. Note: not every painting in this show manages to successfully pull this off, but most do, and they are stunning to see. 
Charters’ show fills all three levels of the Washington Center lobby. Each level represents a different series: peacocks, houses and muses. The peacocks are joyful, colorful and ironic, since they have to do with preening and pomp. The muses, where the bare wood comes into play, are symbolic of women’s body issues; they reference other works from art history (for instance, there is one with four skinny women based on Giacometti sculptures and another based on a painting by Magritte); and the houses represent urban chaos. 
"Magritte's Muse"

“The theme of this exhibition is primarily about public image. How image is used to manipulate a position in society, how we are swayed by it and how we can be ultimately enslaved by projected images, even the ones we project ourselves,” Charters says.  In “Modigliani’s Muse” there is a flat image of a women in unpainted wood almost completely obliterated by a similar female figure that covers it so that only the head, feet and raised hands of the underneath figure show. The inserted figure is pictured wearing a light blue dress that merges into the background. The off-the-shoulder dress exposes one breast, and the woman’s breast and eyes are unpainted knotholes in the bare wood. The jigsaw puzzle-like integration of upper and lower figures is masterful in its peekaboo effect and play between positive and negative shapes. "Deep Pockets"
“Deep Pockets” is a creative explosion of color with a peacock outlined in red with blue dots on its tail feather floating off into the burning reds and oranges of the background. The peacock is standing on an oval of unpainted wood that is part of a dress pattern with instructions and measurements marked. It is funny and beautiful.
“Housing Boom” depicts childlike line drawings of houses stacked up and taking off into a stormy sky like rockets, a playful yet ominous commentary on the real estate market and the overcrowding and sameness of suburbia.
These are but three of many works in the show. I wish I had space to write about many more. It’s a large and impressive show. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Lynette Charters, noon to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday and by appointment, through Aug. 28, reception July 16, 5-7:30 p.m., The Washington Center for Performing Arts, 512 Washington St. SE, Olympia, 360.753.8585

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

CC Dust Live at Upset the Rhythm

K Records - Thu, 07/07/2016 - 4:12pm
Live in London, England, June 2016, Olympia’s CC Dust wow the Brits with their ferocious contemplation, providing a preview of their CC Dust [KLP263] 12″ EP. This event was sponsored by the inimitable Upset the Rhythm record label.   The CC Dust 12″ EP CC Dust [KLP263] is available from the K Mail Order Dept. […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Amanda K. Davidson: Wednesday, May 18th, 11:30-1pm in the 2nd floor Recital Hall of the COM Building

Evergreen Artists Lecture Series - Fri, 05/06/2016 - 3:35pm

Amanda Davidson_high resAmanda Davidson writes, draws, and makes performances in Brooklyn and Los Angeles. Her prose chapbooks include Arcanagrams: A Reckoning (Little Red Leaves 2014), The Space (Belladonna 2014), and Apprenticeship (New Herring Press 2013), and she is the founding editor of Occasional Remarks: Prose Chaps and Audio Tracks. Davidson’s fiction, reviews, and comics appear in the Brooklyn Rail, the Believer, and Weird Sister, where she’s serializing a graphic novel called The Conditions of Our Togetherness. She’s been a writer-in-residence at MacDowell, Art Farm Nebraska, Millay, and I-Park, and received a 2014-2015 Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Residency, and a 2014 NYFA Fellowship in poetry.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Rob Halpern: Wednesday, May 4th, 11:30-1:00 pm in the 2nd floor Recital Hall of the COM Building

Evergreen Artists Lecture Series - Fri, 04/22/2016 - 11:39am

Rob HalpernCommon Place (Ugly Duckling Presse 2015) is Rob Halpern‘s most recent book of poetry. Other titles include Music for Porn (Nightboat 2013), Disaster Suites (Palm Press 2009), and Rumored Place (Krupskaya 2006).  Together with Taylor Brady, he also co-authored the book-length poem, Snow Sensitive Skin, which has been reissued by Displaced Press.  Recent essays and translations appear in Chicago ReviewJournal of Narrative Theory, and The Claudius App.  Rob currently splits his time between San Francisco and Ypsilanti, Michigan, where he teaches at Eastern Michigan University and Women’s Huron Valley Prison.


Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Jovencio de la Paz: Wednesday, April 20th, 11:30-1:00 pm in the 2nd floor Recital Hall of the COM Building

Evergreen Artists Lecture Series - Thu, 03/31/2016 - 2:38pm
Jovencio de la PazJovencio de la Paz is an artist, writer, and educator working at the intersection of contemporary art, craft, and textile. His work, which is committed to the ancient technologies and processes of textile, engages notions of identity, immigration, and the terrain of thought around human interaction with the landscape. Working with a range of materials, including indigo dye, traditional batik, textile printing, and multimedia strategies, Jovencio seeks to work in an expansive way, engaging highly specific materials and processes as sites to confront larger concerns of human migration and the narratives associated with such movement. Jovencio was born in Singapore, and became a citizen of the United States in 1994. He received a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2008, and an MFA from the Cranbrook Academy of Art, Department of Fiber, in 2012. Recent solo and group exhibitions include shows at ThreeWalls, Chicago, IL; The Museum of Contemporary Craft, Portland, OR; 4th Ward Projects, Chicago, IL; PDX Contemporary Art, Portland, OR; The Sculpture Center, Cleveland, OH; SOIL Gallery, Seattle, WA; Roots & Culture Contemporary Art Center, Chicago; The Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago; MessHall, Chicago; Uri Gallery, Seoul, South Korea, among others. He regularly teaches at schools of art, craft, and design throughout the country, including the Ox Bow School of Art in Saugatuck, MI and the Arrowmont School of Craft in Tennessee. Jovencio de la Paz is Assistant Professor and Curricular Head of Fibers at the University of Oregon. He is also a co-founder of the collaborative group Craft Mystery Cult, established in 2010.



Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Evergreen Art Lecture Series presents a

Evergreen Artists Lecture Series - Tue, 03/29/2016 - 10:20am
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 the Recital Hall of the Communications Building at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. Most of the talks take place on Wednesdays from 11:30-1:00 pm and are free and open to the public. Spring Quarter 2016 Week 2: 4/6 In honor of Day of Absence the Art Lecture Series will not have a lecture  and we encourage everyone to participate in the Day of Absence offerings Week 4: 4/20 Jovencio de la Paz, visual artist, conceptual art, modern design, craft, mystery cults, collaborative practices Week 6: 5/4 Rob Halpern “Devotional Kink: Reflections on a Common Place,” poet, essayist, translator Week 8:5/18  Amanda K. Davidson, a writer who creates fiction, performances and essays Week 10: June 1 Senior student final presentations in art and writing and…
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Naomi Punk, PC Worship, Mother Tongue and Broken Water

Northern - Olympia All Ages Project - Mon, 03/09/2015 - 5:00pm


Welcome Naomi Punk back from their European Tour and send them off again w/ PC Worship down the west coast. Also playing is Mother Tongue from Rhode Island. with support from local favorites Broken Water. ?

“Also, the Homie, Shane Yee, and I will be doing an installation”- Scott Young

Show really starts at 8pm sharp :)

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Categories: Arts & Entertainment
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