Reporter’s notebook: The 15th Annual Juried Local Art Exhibition at TCC


By Dave R. Davison

“City Fashion,” by the artistic team of Ric Hall and Ron Schmitt, is done with pastels. The pair of Tacoma artists create striking images. photo courtesy of the gallery at tcc

The Gallery at Tacoma Community College ramps up a new season of shows with its 15th Annual Juried Local Art Exhibition, which features about a half-a-hundred works of art by 29 artists. Among the variety of photos, sculptures, drawings, prints and paintings there are some particularly strong submissions by some of the best and the brightest that are out there doing their thing in and around this City of Destiny that we call home.

Following is a sampler of some of the individual works of art that caught my fancy as I moseyed around with my notepad on a Monday afternoon.

Joe Batt, “Tech Twins,” stoneware, pastels and color pencil: Erie sculptures of toddlers in their pajamas – said PJs are Batman and giant truck. The toddlers are also wearing digital devices. One has a camera strapped atop his head and the other is wearing an oculus virtual reality device on his face. They are like a pair of baby cyborgs.

Paul T. Steucke, “Running Before the Wind,” acrylic: A large painting that appears to be a geometric, abstract pattern in blue and white. Upon closer inspection, the picture is a view of sails and sky as seen from the foot of a sailboat’s mast, looking directly upward.

Jason Sobottka, “Camouflaged Rhinoceros,” acrylic, glitter and enamel on panel: One of Sobottka’s surreal wildlife paintings done in florescent colors enhanced with glitter. The titular rhinoceros is fitted with a collar of elephant tusks.

Ric Hall and Ron Schmitt, “City Fashion” and “Staged Community,” pastel on paper: The dynamic duo of Hall and Schmitt create scenes that look like they are done on black velvet. There is an El Greco feel to these angular figures. Posed in strange settings or in cold cities, the figures often have both a predatory and an erotic aspect.

Sharon Styer, “The Wild Night is Calling,” embroidered photo: A haunting scene that looks like the backside of one of the old statues, “The Fisherman’s Daughter,” at Wright Park. The foreground of the misty scene is decorated with fanciful vegetation embroidered with colorful floss. Some of the trees have been traced in needlework. The use of embroidery has a very nice effect, casting an enchantment onto the scene and turning the photo into a call to adventure.

Tom Gross Shader, “Garden,” oil: A large painting of a simplified garden gate. The focus is on the wiggly, turquoise-colored line of a hose that lays on the ground, and on a pair of rakes off to one side. Shader knows how to pare things down to their basic forms.

Sarah Waldo, “People on the Beach: Jenny” is a large painting of a woman wearing sunglasses and a bikini swimming suit. The figure is simplified to its most basic shapes to become a striking, calligraphy-like configuration of pigment on the canvas.

Lynette Charters works in plaster, acrylic and gold-leaf on wood panels. Charters reproduces some iconic paintings of the past, like one of Gustav Klimt’s “Judith” paintings. The raw wood that the picture is painted on is left bare and stands in for the skin of the women in the scene. Charters makes brilliant use of the wood, choosing just the right pieces so that knots in the woodgrain match up to form an eye, a navel and the nipples of the figures.

Marilyn T. Mahoney, “Young Thea,” bronze: A small statue of the pioneering Tacoma tugboat magnate who is shown in a long dress, holding a pair of oars and a bucket of fish.

Frank Dippolito, “Good Morning Sunshine,” oil: A large painting that is firing on several levels at once. In the foreground is a plate with a cinnamon bun: breakfast. Above is a solar circle of soft colors on a mottled backdrop. Between the two zones are bands in which tiny circus figures are painted like lively hieroglyphs.

Cathy Norstrom is getting some nice effects with encaustic in her picture of a volcano and with “Historical Steilacoom Train Depot,” a photo and encaustic combination.

Hopefully this mini-tour of the show will serve as an appetizer to get you to hoof it over to TCC’s art gallery and feast your eyes on the visual dainties and dishes that are all spread out for you to enjoy.

For further information, call (253) 460-4306 or visit

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