Archive | December, 2012

Michael Kenna retrospective, part 2, opens Jan. 11 at TAM

31 Dec
Michael Kenna, Two Piers, Imazu, Honshu, Japan, 2001 Sepia-toned gelatin silver print, 7 5/8 x 7 3/4 inches. Courtesy of the artist and G. Gibson Gallery, Seattle

Michael Kenna, “Two Piers, Imazu, Honshu, Japan”, 2001 Sepia-toned gelatin silver print, 7 5/8 x 7 3/4 inches. Courtesy of the artist and G. Gibson Gallery, Seattle

Michael Kenna’s best-known photographs are iconic: ethereal landscape studies that seem untethered by time, steeped in a spiritual sense of place. Memories and Meditations: A Retrospective of Michael Kenna’s Photography at Tacoma Art Museum is a two-part tribute to this internationally acclaimed artist with a career spanning more than 30 years. Part one is a crowd-pleasing exhibition that includes several of his widely admired, ineffably serene landscapes (including the above); part two, opening January 11 through March 24, 2013, will introduce a different aspect of Kenna’s work, including his documentation of European sites and the concentration camps of World War II.

Michael Kenna, Ratcliffe Power Station, Study 40, Nottinghamshire, England, 2003. Sepia-toned gelatin silver print, 7 5/8 x 7 5/8 inches. Courtesy of the artist and G.Gibson Gallery, Seattle.

Michael Kenna, “Ratcliffe Power Station, Study 40”, Nottinghamshire, England, 2003. Sepia-toned gelatin silver print, 7 5/8 x 7 5/8 inches. Courtesy of the artist and G.Gibson Gallery, Seattle.

The TAM show is the first retrospective of Kenna’s work in almost 20 years. The current exhibit focuses on Asia but includes surprises such as textured and energetic photographs from Detroit to Easter Island. A constant thread is the lack of people in Kenna’s frame; as he said at a recent TAM lecture: “I like the idea that we can take a solitary walk and allow our minds to wander”; and his uninhabited studies invite such expansiveness in the viewer. He is known for putting long camera exposures – sometimes up to 10 hours – to brilliant effect, recording whatever passes before his viewfinder. His unique visual style requires patience, and the resulting images evoke a sense of sublimity, even when the subject matter is a nuclear plant (above, also in part one of the exhibition).

Michael Kenna, SS Guard House, (Death Gate), Birkenau, Poland, 1992. Sepia-toned gelatin silver print, 8 3/8 x 7 1/2 inches. Courtesy of the artist and G. Gibson Gallery, Seattle.

Michael Kenna, “SS Guard House, (Death Gate)”, Birkenau, Poland, 1992. Sepia-toned gelatin silver print, 8 3/8 x 7 1/2 inches. Courtesy of the artist and G. Gibson Gallery, Seattle.

The photographs on exhibit at TAM are surprisingly small; a decision which he explains requires the viewer to draw in close, creating an intimacy with the image. Kenna does all his own darkroom printing of sepia-tone silver gelatin prints. He is known to return to certain locales over several years, recording the changes that have occurred.

Michael Kenna, Chariot of Apollo, Study 1, Versailles, France, 1988. Sepia-toned gelatin silver print, 6 x 9 1/8 inches. Courtesy of the artist and G. Gibson Gallery, Seattle.

Michael Kenna, “Chariot of Apollo, Study 1”, Versailles, France, 1988. Sepia-toned gelatin silver print, 6 x 9 1/8 inches. Courtesy of the artist and G. Gibson Gallery, Seattle.

The photographer’s work explores the connections between time, history and geography; an investigation that will continue in the second part of the TAM rotation opening January 11. Photographs such as Chariot of Apollo, Study 1, Versailles, France; and SS Guard House, (Death Gate), Birkenau, Poland; communicate the dark impulses that have forged European history. Continue reading


Diverse art reflects the character of a city

29 Dec
"Movement No. 39" by Bret Lyon

“Movement No. 39” by Bret Lyon

This is a series spotlighting portable artworks recently acquired by the City of Tacoma for the Municipal Art Collection. A diverse selection of 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional works by 15 regional artists were selected for purchase through one percent for art funds.

Bret Lyon created Movement No. 39, part of his Piano Series, after receiving a commission “to make a piece of furniture out of a family’s treasured piano. It was during that process of taking the piano apart that I started experimenting with the interesting innards of the piano.” Reclaimed and recycled material holds a special interest for the artist: “In 2000, I began a series of work using scraps of eliminated items from the process of making art. These same items were then reintroduced into the process from which they were eliminated.” The result: art that is equally or more compelling in its second life than its first.

"Watching the Watcher" by Thomas Stream.

“Watching the Watcher” by Thomas Stream.

In Watching the Watcher by Thomas Stream, a brilliantly colored raptor in an ornate headgear is an allegory for the Aleut hunter. “The Aleut headgear was believed to have magical powers that could transform the wearer into a mighty hunter. It hid his human identity, and at the same time endowed him with special vision. He could transform himself into an animal to create a bond of intimacy and a relationship with the animal.” Stream says the concept of transformation from human to animal through the magical hat illustrates how the Aleutian people and wild creatures share powerful qualities of strength, sensitivity, playfulness and resourcefulness to thrive in a sometimes harsh environment.

01_Skold Westerlind

“Lake Washington 23, Anableps Series” by Eva Skold Westerlind.

Close observation of the qualities of water and light resulted in Eva Skold Westerlind‘s photograph, Lake Washington 23, Anableps Series. “The perspective from the surface of the lake and the distorted forms that water and light create fascinate me,” she says. She captured the image of Lake Washington from Denny Park in Seattle.

"Anteroom" by Jennifer Frohwerk.

“Anteroom” by Jennifer Frohwerk.

Anteroom, an oil on canvas by Jennifer Frohwerk, is part of a series exploring the theme of how individuals relate to physical sites undergoing construction. “The female figure is based on [a] friend who modeled for me at her apartment located in the South Lake Union neighborhood in Seattle. She is contemplating the new condo construction across the street. The scaffolding is visible outside the window.”

You can see more of the recently purchased portable artworks here:

Blue Mouse Theater inches closer to Kickstarter goal

29 Dec
The Blue Mouse is one of the Northwest's oldest theaters. Photo: Candace Brown

The Blue Mouse is one of the Northwest’s oldest theaters. Photo: Candace Brown

The Blue Mouse Theater is less than $10,000 away from its $75,000 goal to “go digital or go dark”! At last count, the Mouse’s Kickstarter campaign had 851 backers who had pledged $65,190 with 18 days to go. Check out the story here.

New Year’s Eve at the Children’s Museum

27 Dec

2912_513376418008_7974946_nJoin a New Years at Noon celebration with the little ones on December 31, from 10 am – 5 pm at the Children’s Museum in downtown Tacoma. At noon, there will be a children’s parade through the museum. Kids can stay busy all day long making noisemakers, “sparklers”, and sharing their favorite things of 2012 on a collaborative board. Open to the general public from 10 am – 5 pm with Pay As You Will admission. See the museum’s programs for 2013, below!

* * * * *
Member Power Plays
Saturdays from 9 – 10 am

Every Saturday, kids can enjoy a facilitated play experience in one of the museum’s five playscapes. No preregistration required. This regular event is for members-only. Free.

January 5Scavenger Hunt on Voyager: Grab a scavenger hunt list and get set to take a closer look and find items near and on Voyager!
January 12Experiments with Ice in Water: We’ll push up our sleeves and don aprons for some chilly fun as we explore the properties of ice in Water’s still tank.
January 19Bubble Painting in Becka’s Studio: Using a straw, air power and some soapy paint, we’ll create fun, bubbly art prints.
January 26Journey Mapping on Voyager:  We’ll ponder where we’d like to travel on Voyager then create a map to get us there!

* * * * *

Wee Ones Weekly
Fridays from 9:30 am – 11 am
January 11, 18, and 25
Drop in and enjoy thematic and musical programs perfect for toddlers, preschoolers and their grown-ups. Program participation includes 30 minutes of exclusive play in the museum. No preregistration required. Cost: members free; $15 per family of 4, $5 for additional siblings.

Exceptional Families Parent Workshops
January 10 from 6 – 8 pm
Children’s Museum of Tacoma, together with the Exceptional Families Network’s support group, SPECIAL Families of Pierce County, will host a monthly evening program for families with children who have special needs. Continue reading

Lolo – free documentary screening this Saturday!

27 Dec


What: Lolo, a documentary film by Ronald J. Lagman
Where: Evergreen State College – Tacoma campus. 1210 Sixth Avenue, Rm. 218
When: Saturday, December 29 at 1 pm
Cost: Free

This Saturday, at the Tacoma campus of Evergreen State College, filmmaker Ronald J. Lagman will screen his short documentary film, Lolo, about the heroic and forgotten Filipino-American soldiers who fought World War II in the Pacific. This event is free and open to the public.

Lagman immigrated to the US from the Philippines in 1997, at age 27. “When I was in film school at Seattle Central Community College’s film and video program, in 2003, I stumbled upon a news article about WWII Filipino-American soldiers who had served under General Douglas MacArthur in the Pacific when the Philippines was a commonwealth, much like Guam and Puerto Rico.”

He discovered that after fighting in the war, “the US government took away the soldiers’ military benefits. I was shocked and deeply bothered.” Lagman was disturbed not only because this chapter of American history wasn’t widely known, but because he had “enlisted in the US Air Force and [was] just waiting to graduate to leave for basic training. I thought to myself, ‘If they can do this to them, what’s stopping the government from doing this to me someday – cut my military benefits when I’m close to retirement…

“I don’t recall having immediate family members that fought in the war; however, my great-grandmother (when she was still living) shared with me personal family stories of the short Japanese occupation of Manila.”

Lagman started stitching together the stories of five Filipino veterans in 2003-2004. He filmed his 22-minute narrative documentary entirely at the International Drop-In Center in Seattle, a non-profit center that assists the elderly. He also located historical footage through the National Archives. The Tacoma filmmaker hopes to distribute Lolo “to WWII Filipino-American groups in the US so that they can use it for educational purposes….

“Many years from now, the Afghanistan and Iraq wars will be forgotten,” he warns, and the men and women who fought it may be lost to history also. “We as a nation, as a people, should not let this grave injustice happen to our heroes.”

This project was funded in part by the Tacoma Arts Commission’s  Tacoma Artists Initiative Program.

Watch for new acquisitions in Municipal Art Collection

26 Dec

“Dream” by Yuki Nakamura. Photo courtesy of the artist

New portable artworks purchased by the City of Tacoma will begin to be exhibited in public spaces in the City’s municipal buildings. These works will join over 200 others in the Municipal Art Collection. This is the second in a series of posts highlighting the 15 artists whose work was recently chosen for the City’s collection.

Dream by Yuki Nakamura is an 8-inch diameter soccer ball made of pure white porcelain. “The Dream project is a deeply personal work and acknowledges the premature death of my brother at the age of 36. He was a soccer coach and lived his life in Shikoku Island, Japan. For many boys from my hometown, dreaming to become a professional soccer player is a way that they can escape small-town life.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA traditional story is told in Sea Bear, a serigraph by Marvin Oliver. This artist expresses his dual artistic heritage by combining the form-line design and characters of the Northwest Quinault with the often-bright palette of the Southwest Isleta Pueblo. In Sea Bear, an orca whale has transformed into a sea bear entwined with a pale, elaborately embossed messenger.

"I Heard the Snow Falling" by Peter Serko.

“I Heard the Snow Falling” by Peter Serko.

Walking empty, pre-dawn streets has its rewards for photographer Peter Serko. His photo, I Heard the Snow Falling, “was taken at 6am during a January 2012 snowfall. I walked all over the downtown area starting around 5:30am. It was magic!”

"Deception Pass, 1972" by Mary Randlett.

“Deception Pass, 1972” by Mary Randlett.

An iconic wild space is captured in Deception Pass, 1972, a silver gelatin print by Mary Randlett. Born in 1924, Randlett has been photographing the Pacific Northwest for more than 55 years, and is considered a major figure in Northwest art. Her works are held in permanent collections including the Smithsonian Institution and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

See more new acquisitions for the Municipal Art Collectionhere:

Season’s Greetings from Tacoma Arts!

25 Dec
"Sun Elephant" by Sean Alexander. Photo courtesy of the artist.

“Sun Elephant” by Sean Alexander. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Oh man, we love unexpected presents, the kind that weren’t on our list but somehow turned out to be exactly right. Such is Sun Elephant, an ink on paper by artist Sean Alexander. Tacoma Arts invited Alexander to create an artwork for the holidays, and he submitted this amazing drawing of a pachyderm packing the sun within her powerful contours. Blue-eyed, be-tusked and lit from inside with gold, the Sun Elephant seems to move imaginatively forward despite all the sadness and insanity this world can sling.

Alexander is a well-known Tacoma artist, co-founder of the now-defunct Helm Gallery, as well as the alive-and-kickin’ Squeak and Squawk indie music festival. We asked him about his plans for the coming week.

Artist Sean Alexander.

Artist Sean Alexander.

Tacoma Arts: What are you doing for the holidays?
Sean Alexander: Hanging out with “Buds”.
TA: Are you cooking?
SA: I hope not. I’m an awful cook.
TA: What are you looking forward to in the New Year?
SA: The upcoming Seahawks playoffs game(s).
TA: Anything you might be avoiding?
SA: Gluten. Guns in general.
TA: How does your art work relate to the imminent year?
SA: It’s big and yellow.
TA: Thoughts about the Mayan apocalypse being a no show?
SA: No.
TA: Any projects we should know about?
SA: The Marcy Projects [the Marcy Housing Projects in Brooklyn, NY].

Stay tuned for more art, music and commentary from Sean Alexander…Shake it down, Tacoma!

City announces purchase of portable artworks

24 Dec
"Spruce Burl Trail" by Michael Jardeen.

“Spruce Burl Trail” by Michael Jardeen.

The City of Tacoma has announced the purchase of portable artworks by 15 regional artists: Victoria Bjorklund, MalPina Chan, Neeka Cook, Jennifer Frohwerk, Michael Jardeen, Eunice Kim, Bret Lyon, Yuki Nakamura, Chandler O’Leary, Marvin Oliver, Mary Randlett, Peter Serko, Thomas Stream, Eva Skold Westerlind, and Mimi Williams.


“Crab” by Neeka Cook.

Submissions came from Pierce, King, Kitsap, and Thurston Counties. The selected artworks will join others in the Municipal Art Collection, and be installed in public spaces throughout City of Tacoma buildings. Funding for this portable works purchase comes from one percent for art funds. The City of Tacoma maintains over 200 diverse pieces of public art, which can be found in virtually every neighborhood in Tacoma. Congratulations, artists!

"Alpenglow" by Chandler O'Leary.

“Alpenglow” by Chandler O’Leary.

This is the first of a series of posts showcasing the winning artists.

Tacoma photographer Michael Jardeen caught a wonder of nature in Spruce Burl Trail (above top). “This image is meant to have an otherworldly feel that highlights the oddness of the burl,” he says.

Neeka (Lloyd) Cook, an artist of Tlingit heritage, created his Crab ink drawing in the traditional “form-line design” style of his tribe. Cook lives in Puyallup and his work is represented by the Stonington Gallery.

"Floating  Lanterns" by Mimi Williams.

“Floating Lanterns” by Mimi Williams.

Alpenglow by master printmaker Chandler O’Leary is part of a series of 15 letterpress prints featuring Mt. Rainier as depicted from various locations around Tacoma and the Puget Sound region. The series was created from sketches and data collected “on-site, from life, over the course of two years,” says O’Leary.

Olympia artist Mimi Williams pays homage to her city and to far-distant cultural traditions in her lino-cut print, Floating Lanterns. “In the Japanese floating lantern festival, lanterns are released to commemorate loved ones who have passed away. We have such a ceremony at Capitol Lake, in Olympia.”

See more of the newly purchased portable artworks below – and there’s more to come!


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