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The teachers show their stuff

Faculty exhibit at Tacoma Community College

Model for commission sculpture by Kyle Dillehay. Photo courtesy Tacoma Community College

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Today and tomorrow (May 2-3) are the last two days of the art faculty exhibit at Tacoma Community College.

A college faculty art exhibit is where the teachers get to put their art where their mouths are -- to walk the walk as well as talk the talk.

Kyle Dillehay and Marit Berg certainly prove they can walk the walk, and there are flashes of greatness or at least originality in the works of a few others, notably AIice DiCerto and Frank Dippolito. Every artist in the show is an accomplished practitioner in their chosen field, but few of the works displayed have the power of the best work in previous shows in this gallery, such as Hart James' landscapes, sculptures by Irene Osborne, and Bobbi Ritter's series on the micro-brew culture of the Pacific Northwest seen in TCC's previous exhibition.

Berg continues to surprise me, because every time I see her work it is different than anything previously seen from her. This time she's all about picturing animals. There are four etchings of hares and jackrabbits and a painting of a lion repeated 16 times in oil, each slightly different and arranged in four rows of four. The lion painting is impactful, mostly because it takes up an entire facing wall at the gallery entrance. Had it been silkscreened, it would be a great homage to Andy Warhol, although, of course, Warhol never painted, only photographed and then reproduced all his images.

Berg's most outstanding works in this show are a pair of oil paintings of angora rabbits, one rabbit per painting, each facing forward and filling almost every inch of space in its large canvas. One is painted in shades of gray, the other in white and light beige. They are expansive and seem to hover in space, a terrific use of space and color, nuanced and confrontational.

Dillehay has two painted constructions called "Rapto de La Sabines" (translation: rape of the Sabines), a popular subject in Roman art and all the way through the Renaissance, and interpreted by many artists from Peter Paul Rubens to Jacques-Louis David to Pablo Picasso. Each image is printed by a process called cynotype on a rough surface that looks like cast glass or like water in a stormy sea, with sensual human figures and something that looks like a negative image of flying dragons inside a constructed box with a crank handle like some kind of steampunk slide display.

Also from Dillehay is a model (quarter scale) of a sculpture commissioned by the state Arts Commission to be erected on the Yakima Valley Trade School Sunnyside campus. It is a precarious-looking stack of boxes, wooden in the model but to be constructed in metal, with student workers in each box hard at work on their respective fields of study. The complexity of the images wraps up the entirety of the college's offerings in a single tower of sculpted images and objects associated with the college: a mortarboard, nurses, scientists, welding equipment, and lots of food -- especially spears of asparagus, a crop widely grown in the region. The complexity is fascinating, and the sculpture succeeds in being different from every point of view as you walk around it, something far too few sculptors succeed in doing.

There is much more to see, including an intriguing painting by Frank Dippolito called "Mile Post (12-part series)," Jenny Roholt's sensual drawing "Contemplation Grove", and Melinda Liebers Cox's "Uncle Bill," a series of studies after a Rembrandt self-portrait.

TCC ART FACULTY, noon to 5 p.m., Monday-Thursday, through May 3, Tacoma Community College, Building 5A, entrance off South 12th St. between Pearl and Mildred, Tacoma, visitor parking in Lot G

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