Friday, May 30, 2008


The child and I created our own art walk over the past few days. We visited galleries and installations in various neighborhoods of Tacoma.


Our fifth stop was Antique Row. Our intent was to visit The Helm, but we also stumbled upon the Lark Gallery in the bowels of Sanford & Son Antiques.

(1) Family Portraits: Current and Future Works at the Lark Gallery.

(2) The sign outside The Helm Gallery.

Left to right: (3) View from the sidewalk, looking at the left side of the gallery; (4) View from the sidewalk, looking at D.W. Burnam's Roads in the Hollow.

We went into Sanford & Son Antiques to view the strange toys of Mondo Bizarro. Along our way through the labyrinth that is Sanford & Son, we discovered the Lark Gallery among the middle level shops. The pieces in Family Portraits: Current and Future Works consisted of mostly square pieces of cloth with ragged edges that had old photos printed upon them and captions added via typewriter. I found the various pieces to be rather clever.

The disparate works in The Helm's Free for All were hit or miss. Some pieces felt like the artists just didn't care or don't have any real talent. I won't discuss those. My favorite piece was Roads in the Hollow by D.W. Burnam. It was twenty-five ink and graphite drawings on small pieces of ragboard. The pictures were collected into six or seven related sets (depending on how the viewer groups them) that depicted liminal zones—places currently absent of people that would be great places to skateboard or wander. Most of the individual small drawings also had a sound depicted in a style familiar from comic books.

The child's favorite work was Stabbed Treat by Michael Simi. It was a giant Rice Krispies treat (perhaps four feet in width and height, and almost one foot thick) hung on the wall and stabbed with a hundred or so colored plastic knives.

Another piece by Michael Simi that caught my attention was his Sex Offenders From My Home Town. It was six square white pillows with the photographed faces of purported sex offenders printed on them. The effect was disturbing because an object that represents comfort and security and home was defiled by the presence of the photographs of these six men and what they represent.

Two large framed archival inkjet prints—one of two hands of two different individuals and the other of the foreheads and crowns of two men in the bottom of the images "framing"—by Fire Retard Ants (Fred Muran and Michael Simi) also made the child and I laugh. Their absurdity made us both ponder stories to explain what we were viewing.



Our final stop was at Fulcrum on Martin Luther King Jr. Way. It was the highlight of our entire series of Tacoma gallery visits.

(5) Fulcrum Gallery as viewed from across the street.

Left to right: (6) Acrylic paintings by Julia Ricketts; (7) one of Julia's canvasses, I believe Meditation IV.

The exhibition at Fulcrum was the highlight of our art excursion. Julia Ricketts: Excerpts and Variants presented us with various acrylic on canvas paintings by Julia Ricketts. Most were 24" x 24" inches in size, although two were 36" x 36". Each canvas consisted of a visual field that had been divided up by rectilinear boxes that were well-defined by very bold lines. Many of the canvasses were bisected by a vertical line that was not as well defined as the lines that defined the boxes, but were just as assertive. The boxes were then painted in various colors that didn't honor the lines that defined them, bleeding over, into, and across their boundaries, but just slightly. The colors were bold and simple.

I found all of them intriguing, especially A Page from Summer, Green Chord I, Green Chord II, and Excerpt in Orange I.

There were also a few mixed media works in the back room, although I found them to be less powerful than the acrylic paintings.

The person in the gallery during our visit also let us peek into the far back room at the "set" for the performance piece/multimedia installation The Road to Heaven. The child really liked the tile square with drain set into a larger linoleum square set into a larger square of grass that sat in the center of the room.

Fulcrum is one of those galleries that we will definitely be visiting again and again.


[Artwalk 1 - Theater District]
[Artwalk 2 - Convention Center/Central Downtown]
[Artwalk 3 - University of Washington, Tacoma]
[Artwalk 4 - Museum District]

Thursday, May 29, 2008


The child and I created our own art walk over the past few days. We visited galleries and installations in various neighborhoods of Tacoma.


Our fourth stop was Tacoma's Museum District. The child and I enjoy wandering about the sidewalks, ramps, bridges, and stairs that surround Tacoma Art Museum, Museum of Glass, Washington State History Museum, and the waterfront. We do this on a regular basis. On this visit we stopped by William Traver Gallery, Union Station, and the UWT Library to look at pieces of glass art by Dale Chihuly.

(1) Drawings by Dale Chihuly at William Traver Gallery.

Clockwise from upper left: (2) William Traver Gallery sign on the historic Albers Mill building; (3) one "room" of the gallery; (4) a Chihuly basket set; (5) Chihuly cylinders and an inspirational drawing for the same.

(6) Drawings by Dale Chihuly at Union Station.

Clockwise from upper left: (7) the Monarch Window at Union Station; (8) End of the Day Chandelier and Lackawana Ikebana; (9) Basket Drawing Wall; (10) Water Reeds.

(11) Chinook Red Chandelier at UWT Library.

Dale Chihuly is a Tacoma native and has bestowed a generous amount of his art to public installations in the south Puget Sound region, especially Tacoma. He has an equal amount of vehement attackers and defenders—many people either love or hate him and his work. I seem to fall somewhere in the middle. I am not a rabid fan of his work, but I definitely see the beauty and artistry in it.

I have seen the Union Station pieces and the Chinook Red Chandelier on many previous occasions, as well as the Bridge of Glass. Therefore, I was especially interested in what the Chihuly exhibition at Traver Gallery was going to have on display. My favorite pieces were the drawings and paintings that influence and inspire the glass art. They are so vibrant and alive. I find it interesting to discover elements of the drawings that I have seen embodied in sculptural glass pieces. I also liked that Traver Gallery displayed the drawings in a presentation that was similar to that of those displayed in Union Station.

I was also intrigued by a turquoise colored set of baskets. They felt so different to me in color and feel from most of Chihuly's other work. It was refreshing to see something that I had not seen before.

The child and I also made sure that we stopped by the Venetian Wall, Crystal Towers, and Seaform Pavilion of the Bridge of Glass to ensure that we had viewed all of the Chihuly we could view for free during a short walk in the Museum District.


[Artwalk 1 - Theater District]
[Artwalk 2 - Convention Center/Central Downtown]
[Artwalk 3 - University of Washington, Tacoma]
[Artwalk 5 - Antique Row & Hilltop]

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


The child and I created our own art walk over the past few days. We visited galleries and installations in various neighborhoods of Tacoma.


Our third stop was at the University of Washington, Tacoma campus. We were specifically stopping by BKB & Company to visit Tacoma's one and only Art-o-mat machine. We just happened upon the UWT Gallery, although it was closed, and enjoyed the art of the hot dog and sausage as well.

(1) UWT Art Gallery.

Left to right: (2) art objects in the left of the gallery; (3) art objects in the right of the gallery.

(4) Art-o-mat neon sign in BKB & Company.

Left to right: (5) Hot Rod Dog sign; (6) the renovated cigarette vending machine that is now Tacoma's Art-o-mat, dispensing small doses of art and joy.

It was disappointing that we could not enter the UWT Gallery, due to it being closed. It was difficult to see most of the pieces. The additional disappointment was that there was no information anywhere that listed gallery days or hours of operation.

Hot Rod Dog delivers the culinary art that is the wiener in a bun. The Child settled for the All-Beef Kosher Dog, while Troy's Work Table indulged in the wonderfully scrumptious Mozzarella Cheese Sausage. The best part of the sausage is that you have to work at it just enough to make it all the more worthwhile. The casing doesn't immediately yield to the teeth, but when it does there is a satisfying "pop" that is followed by spicy meat and cheese goodness.

(7) Our first piece of art from the Art-0-mat machine, as chosen by the child. It is a Banana Fine Art Bag Tag by Laura and William Gentry of The Gentry Joint. The child was excited by the box alone, but was ecstatic when the Banana tag was extracted from the box. The child actually squealed in delight.

(7) Our second piece of art from the Art-0-mat machine, as chosen by the child. It is a small woodblock "canvas" the size of a cigarette pack. It is from a series entitled "Animal People" by Took Gallagher that consists of collages of recycled magazines and hand cut papers. The child was really hoping for a cat-headed person rather than a dog-headed person, and so it was.

Both of our new Art-o-mat artworks now join our Herbert Hoover Cracker in our home "gallery," also known as a bookshelf.


[Artwalk 1 - Theater District]
[Artwalk 2 - Convention Center/Central Downtown]
[Artwalk 4 - Museum District]
[Artwalk 5 - Antique Row & Hilltop]

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


The child and I created our own art walk over the past few days. We visited galleries and installations in various neighborhoods of Tacoma.


Our second stop was at Hotel Murano to view the glass installations on floors 24 and 25. These are the two floors that we had missed on previous visits. We also visited some of our favorite pieces in the main lobby, as well as a couple of new works.

I'll think of you away from there, kilnformed, etched glass, 2007 by April Surgent.

Clockwise from upper left:
*Floor 24—Peter Bremers
*Floor 25—William Morris
*Lobby—April Surgent
*Lobby, lower floor—Steffan Dam

Viking Boats: Boat of the Gods by Vibeke Skov.

I found the two pieces by April Surgent to be rather enchanting. The five glass panels of the one piece and the three panels of the other appeared to be photographs from a distance. It was only as I drew closer to them that the details of the glass and its "manipulations" could be detected. I found the empty spaces depicted haunting. The rolling hills of the first and the wind turbines of the second told me that these are desolate, liminal places. I want to go to both and stay.

I also especially like Steffan Dam's Specimen Block. The sixteen figures "trapped" in the glass could be specimens of animal, vegetable, or mineral. Their lack of distinction is intriguing.

The glass ice form of Peter Bremers is one of my favorite pieces on the various floors of the hotel. It looks like the arctic ice that Bremers visited for inspiration. It sings of its originating "spark." It is truly something that has to be viewed in person because the subtle blue lines in the transparent glass do not photograph well.

The child was intrigued by the three Viking boats of Vibeke Skov, as was I. They hover over the lobby's lower level as though its stairwell is the river that propels them through the building. Many of the sketches and paintings that were fully realized on the the boats are framed and hanging in the lobby and restrooms.


[Artwalk 1 - Theater District]
[Artwalk 3 - University of Washington, Tacoma]
[Artwalk 4 - Museum District]
[Artwalk 5 - Antique Row & Hilltop]
[Hotel Murano 1]
[Hotel Murano 2]
[Hotel Murano 3]

Monday, May 26, 2008


The child and I created our own art walk over the past few days. We visited galleries and installations in various neighborhoods of Tacoma.


Our first stop was the Urban Art Installations of Tacoma Contemporary in the Woolworth's windows at 11th and Broadway. We also visited the Tollbooth Gallery, the "world’s smallest gallery dedicated exclusively to experimental video and wheat-pasted paper fine arts," which sits directly in front of the Woolworth's windows, but it seems to be defunct, or, at the very least, neglected.

(1) Tacoma Contemporary in the Woolworth's windows and the Tollbooth Gallery.

Clockwise from upper left: (2) elaborate papercut flora by Celeste Cooning; (3) plastic forms by Justin Hahn; (4) clothing sculptures by Dana Brownfield; (5) acrylic paintings by Kelsey Parkhurst.

(6) Tacoma Contemporary's mission statement: "Tacoma Contemporary is a non-profit organization that advances contemporary visual arts in Tacoma, providing opportunities for artists to present innovative works that engage our community with high-quality arts experiences."

Clockwise from upper left: (7) mixed media sculptural forms by Melissa Balch; (8) Key of Sea, 2004, painted sidewalks next to Tacoma Contemporary by John Runnels; (9) "breast forms" by Melissa Balch; (10) colored adhesives by Issei Watanabe.

My favorite pieces were the various windows containing the papercuts of Celeste Cooning. Most of them were white against a dark blue wall, which really made them stand out. At the bottom of a couple of windows the paper cuts were purposely pooled into piles, some of which had been colored with paint. The effect was of the seasons and decay. The child seemed especially enamored of the windows by Melissa Balch, Dana Brownfield, and Kelsey Parkhurst who collectively examined female clothing in their themed works.


[Artwalk 2 - Convention Center/Central Downtown]
[Artwalk 3 - Univeristy of Washington, Tacoma]
[Artwalk 4 - Museum District]
[Artwalk 5 - Antique Row & Hilltop]

Saturday, May 24, 2008


"This godforsaken stretch of Gibraltar. The cutting room in Madrid. Paris, Bombay, Tokyo, fucking Norway, wherever—it's all Hollywood, everywhere is Hollywood, the only place on the planet that's not Hollywood anymore is Hollywood."

—page 121, Zeroville by Steve Erickson

I am thoroughly enjoying Zeroville. It is ripe with many of Steve Erickson's favorite themes, which makes me happy. It is nice to be in a comfortable place, even if it is surreal and apocalyptic.

First, the requisite relational problems between parent and child are present. Soledad Palladin, our protagonist Vikar's love interest, is not a very good mother to her preteen daughter Zazi. That is primarily due to Soledad's narcissism and neglect. Vikar's outrage at Soledad seems justified. However, Erickson also indicts God. He challenges a God who would sacrifice his own child, as well as foster the faith that would cause Abraham to do the be willing to do the same to his son Isaac. And, Vikar has an obviously strained relationship with his own father. All of this reminds me that relationships are messy.

Second, the novel is a place for the collision of the "real" and "fictional" worlds. We have the kidnapping of Charles Foster Kane's granddaughter! We have Vikar, Soledad, and Dotty working on or in actual films! We have Vikar meeting actual actors, directors, and producers! A special prize is created at the Cannes Film Festival for Vikar's editing work! All of the above is delivered absent irony. It is just the way the world(s) of Erickson's fiction work(s).

Third, the prostitutes are in place. They creep onto the streets of Madrid as Generalissimo Franco is dying. They are mentioned after Vikar and Soledad finally have sex in New York City. Just as the "memory hotels" of The Sea Came in at Midnight and the "holy prostitutes" of Our Ecstatic Days are signifiers of changes that are occurring or about to occur, the whores of Zeroville are signs of impending change. I haven't quite figured out their exact role yet, but I am sure that it is there.

Fourth, Erickson loves to play with time and place. The settings of his novels are cosmopolitan, even as they are grounded in one prime locale, in this case Los Angeles. But, that still allows for side trips to New York, Madrid, and Cannes so far, as well as flashbacks to fictional Mather Divinity School's architecture program in Pennsylvania. And, time is fluid. Midway through the novel everything is "reset to zero." The chapters, which have been numerically increasing, begin to decrease in numbering. Are they replays or reformulations of the previous chapters? Does ascendant chapter 226 have something in common with descendant chapter 226? Not that I can surmise, but that is probably due to everything being "reset."

I am slightly more than halfway through this novel and enjoying every minute of it, and, if I wish that it didn't end, then I can simply "reset" the novel when I reach the conclusion and begin again. It is something that Vikar would understand.

Friday, May 23, 2008


"Our breath makes a sound like lions..."
—Elea Carey reading from "Kiss Me"

Thursday 15 May 2008 was the latest live show of A River & Sound Review, and it was a good one. (Conflict of interest alert: I am helping out with publicity for RSR. Please note, however, that I was a fan prior to working with them.)

The show began with singer-songwriter Patrick Bradshaw. He sang three haunting, offbeat, quirky tunes throughout the evening, accompanying his voice with guitar and harmonica. I also had the pleasure of hearing him play a cover song during sound check, although I cannot remember either the artist or song title. But, if I hadn't known better I would have thought the song an original since it fit so nicely into his oeuvre. I purchased his album Alice and Other Curiosities after the show and have been listening to it constantly.

Kendall Pepple was the winner of Pierce County Library System's "12th Annual Our Own Words: Teen Poetry and Fiction Contest" in the 11th and 12th grade poetry category. He read winning poem "The Nature of New York City." He was obviously a little nervous, but held his own rather nicely.

Fiction writer Elea Carey followed. She read her short story "Kiss Me." It was one of those stories that is so well written that it convinced many of the audience members that it was autobiographical. I heard a couple people discussing it after the show, and uttering that they couldn't believe that she would "expose" herself so publicly. I also overheard someone asking her about some of the experiences of the protagonist. She had to explain again that it was fiction, and that she was not the character. (To "celebrity culture" and the people that keep it alive: you are killing us!)

Master of ceremonies Jay Bates called forth an audience member to play "Name That Book." It consisted of three rounds. Each round gave some background information about a particular book. Then the first line of the book was read. The player was asked to name the book and the author. If necessary, the player received three multiple choice answers from which to choose or requested help from the audience. Whitney played a fair set, with only a few hints from the audience.

Pennsylvania poet Philip Terman was the highlight of the show. He read a longer poem from his first collection of poetry, The House of Sages. "For Ganya" was a sensual poem that delicately married imagery from the garden that he and his wife tend with his love for her. It was earthy and, at times, erotic. I don't think that I could have managed the complex balance of the garden, its contents, his wife, her sensuality, her sexuality, and his apparent love for her. And, his reading of the poem really made the words sing. He alone was worth attending.

The evening ended with another episode of the literary soap opera drama As the Publishing World Turns, as read by the RSR Players. Heathcliff Beed learned that Ophelia Paine, the object of his lust and affection, was actually his sister. Although I am sure that may turn out to be false. Only time will tell.

The audience was attentive and generous with its applause. It was good to once again have a true literary event happening in Puyallup. I can only hope that A River & Sound Review will continue to capture the imagination of lovers of literature in Puyallup and the South Puget Sound region.


The podcast of the above show (episode 19) is available for your listening pleasure.