Reporter’s notebook: September’s Third Thursday Art Walk


I only made it to a couple of art openings on the Sept. 20 Third Thursday Art Walk. My first landing was the Feast Art Center Gallery, which was opening Nichole Rathburn’s fascinatingly quirky exhibit “Catherine’s Garden.” For this show – part installation and part traditional gallery display – Rathburn made a group of somewhat surreal objects out of a wide array of materials. Are they wall-mounted sculptures or three-dimensional paintings? Each one has its own personality. Rathburn seems to have a penchant for soft textures and muted colors. There are things that resemble a partially deconstructed hula skirt made of leather strips (called “Nest”) and a piece hung above the door that resembles a sling made of smashed bed springs. Another piece consists of a grid of soft cubes (dull green) drawn together in a rectangle. It comes across as a cushy excursion into minimalism.
One of my favorites was “No Time Like the Present,” a giant, chalky blue flower made of cast form with a big center made of curly, brown mohair.

Further east and down from Hilltop, I found that the 950 Gallery’s new exhibit, “Sharp Turner,” is still in the process of installation. “Sharp Turner” is a two-man show featuring work by Galen Turner and Chris Sharp. Gallery director Gabriel Brown explained that the hard opening will be in October, thus placing it within the parameters of Tacoma Arts Month.

Most of the art is by Tacoma’s own wizard of the noble gasses, Turner, who is known for his inventive and wry-witted neon constructions and his brilliantly preposterous assemblage constructions. Much of the exhibit is a kind of homage or hall of fame exhibit featuring ephemera and memorabilia relating to Gaytron the Imploder – Turner’s alter ego whose feat is to ride his bicycle over a truncated ramp (“three inches of sheer terror”) through a wall of neon tubes. Turner likes to joke that Gaytron the Imploder is “Tacoma’s crappiest superhero.”

Chris Sharp, the very first winner of the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation’s Foundation of Art Award, has worked in conjunction with Turner on a number of occasions. Some of his old-school sign painting style of painting decorates things like a stack of tool boxes in a nook of the gallery. Sharp also contributed a large, dark painting to the show. Here, an abstract expressionist sensibility is combined with visual elements borrowed from comic books and commercial art.

Also on hand at the non-opening opening was Chris Crews, one of Tacoma’s most inventive media artists whose looped videos of Turner’s Bike Jump event were showing in the gallery’s little video theater. Crews is the official videographer and chronicler of Bike Jump.
Don’t touch that dial! Stay tuned to this news source for the date and location of the next Bike Jump.

Finding it felicitous that the Woolworth Building is just across the street from the 950 Gallery, I crossed over and had a look at the window installations. Jennifer Chin’s “She’s Had Enough” seems especially prescient. Looking at her female silhouettes and her visual commentary on the monetary value of the female body as a commodity can’t help but bring to mind issues that are currently in the national spotlight. One of the window spaces is filled with old suitcases and vintage clothing. There is no title or explanation for this display. It seems to be some kind of quickly assembled filler to make the space seem utilized. The steamroller prints from the Wayzgoose printmaking festival (held at King’s Books last April) are on view in the next case. And finally, there is a show of Sophia Munic’s “Furz Instillation.” The walls are dotted with big, brightly color ovals of fake fur. The thing that sprung to my mind was the fuzzy toilet seat covers that were a standard feature of middle class bathrooms in the not-too-distant past.

Tacoma is awash in art and interesting things to see and experience. Every third Thursday, the art galleries and the museums and many other venues make a special effort to feature new art. Take advantage of what we have here in this place at this time. Live in this historical moment and take the time to enjoy it. You might not be able to see everything that Third Thursday has to offer, so gather in what you are able.

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