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Sculptures lead the way

Student art at University of Puget Sound

Installation view of the student show. Photo courtesy University of Puget Sound

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"The 2018 Annual Student Art Show at University of Puget Sound" presents the best work from the last two academic years of UPS art classes as chosen by the juror, Tacoma artist Anida Yoeu Ali. The show includes pieces by everyone from first-year students to seniors. The quality of the work varies tremendously. With a few exceptions, the sculpture is much more inventive and of higher quality than the drawings and paintings, which tend toward the more amateurish and less original. Notable exceptions being a figure drawing by Megan Breiter, which is of much higher quality than the bulk of the two-dimensional works in the show; and a couple of Pop Art sculptures -- one of a fork lying on the floor and one of a Pooh Bear: these two were not of the quality exhibited by the bulk of the sculptures.

I don't know who teaches sculpture at UPS, but he, she or they must be terrific teachers.

One of the more impressive pieces is a sculpture by Will Books called "Socket Bloom." Standing on the floor like a large steampunk umbrella that has been cast aside or some kind of time travel kite. There is a gritty and foreboding character to this piece in steel, canvas and acrylic. Only from certain angles can you see the "handle" of the "umbrella." Without that clue, it is a purely abstract sculpture with no references beyond itself.  

A wall sculpture by Sam Crookston called "Peeling" has a painterly quality because it is basically flat and rectangular and its surface texture (wood grain) has the look of paint strokes with a variety of directions, all in the same dark charcoal color. As sculpture it is an expressive version of a Donald Judd box. It is constructed of a dozen boxes jammed together side to side and top to bottom. It is the subtle variations within an almost solid and unvarying shape that makes it so interesting to contemplate.  

Jarett Prince's "Untitled B" is comprised of six wooden blocks attached on metal rods that project about six inches out from a hexagonal metal frame against the wall. It has the feel of a futuristic clock with too few hours and although it creates the impression of slow and regular movement -- tic tok, tic tok -- there are no moving parts.

Breiter's graphite drawing alluded to in the opening paragraph is like a time-lapse photo of a female kick-boxer in repetitive motion. The line work is sure and strong, and the shading is soft and atmospheric, with parts of the body in motion, fading smoke-like. Its only problem is that the woman's head is disproportionately large.  

The only functional piece in the show is a bench by Patrick Johnson in wood and epoxy resin with beautiful wood grain shining through a thick layer of epoxy on the top, which rests on a dark gray arched base that looks like metal even though the wall label says it is wood.  

One of the better graphic works is "Ink" by Mary Ontiveros, a print of a woman seen from behind with arms raised and fingers in her long hair. Her arms and shoulders are tattooed with light blue hieroglyphic images that appear flat, as if printed over the body; yet the straps of her bra go over the tattoos in an intriguing kind of visual trickery.  

There is a lot of good work in this show, making it well worth a trip to the UPS campus. 

"THE 2018 ANNUAL STUDENT ART SHOW AT UNIVERSITY OF PUGET SOUND," 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday; noon-5 p.m., Saturday, through Feb. 24, Kittredge Gallery, 1500 N. Warner St., Tacoma, 253.879.3701 

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