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Raging emotions on display

Juried exhibition at Tacoma Community College

“Nachtgespenster” and “Family Separation,” sculptures by Irene Osborn. Photo credit: Rachel Payne

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There are certain characteristics shared by most if not all juried art exhibitions that are particularly noticeable at top-quality shows such as those held annually at South Puget Sound Community College and Tacoma Community College where many of the same artists show up every year. Such shows have a plethora of outstanding art, but a good half of the works are just OK -- not bad at all, but not work that makes you want to run out in the streets and sing their praises at the top of your lungs.

Both TCC and SPSCC are currently having their annual juried shows. I haven't yet seen the show at SPSCC but plan to soon. In this column, I will concentrate on the works in the show in Tacoma, which incidentally includes a lot of Olympia artists. And I shall concentrate on the pieces that do make you want to rush out and sing their praises.

Tops among these is William Turner's little painting "Playing (Cuenic)." At first glance, this painting brought to mind paintings by the great British abstract painter Howard Hodgkin, but Turner's painting is much grittier and more complex than anything of Hodgkin's, and to my way of thinking, more exciting. There are shapes within shapes. A deep cerulean blue rectangle in the upper left corner plays off against a large backwards "L" shape filling the rest of the surface. The blue area is like a window into the depths of night. The rest is like old city billboards that have been ripped and tattered showing multiple layers. Both sections are filled with architectonic and organic shapes and marks. The colors range from burning bright to shadowy dark areas, and the paint application is gritty and heavy in places and smooth and blended in others. Seldom will you see so much variety of shape, color, line and mark-making in a single little painting. If I were the juror and were tasked with choosing "Best in Show," I would have to give this one serious consideration.

Lynette Charters' "Missing Woman" series has become so ubiquitous it is hard to say anything new about them. There are three in the TCC show and at least one in the SPSCC show. In this series, Charters both honors and criticizes male painters for their paintings of women that objectify their subjects, while women artists are "missing" in so many museums and galleries. She paints almost exact copies of master paintings of women on wood panels but leaves the women's bodies unpainted. I believe I have seen every painting in the series and therefore can say the jurors chose her three best: "DeKooning's Muse," "Yves Klien's Petite Muse Blue" and "Picasso's Seated Bather Muse."

Mary Beth Hynes' "Agony," clay, paint and limestone, is a tableau of five small sculptures of male and female nudes in stressful and agonizing postures with rough bodies in positions that would be painful were they living people. The emotional impact of these figures is akin to that of Michelangelo's sculptures of slaves or Rodin's "Gates of Hell." Taken separately, these figures might be in the "OK" category, but as a group, they are shout-it-in-the-street powerful.

Similar in terms of emotional impact are Irene Osborn's two sculpted heads "Family Separation" and "Nachtgespenster." One is the fully rounded figure of a shouting head, and the other is a bas relief wall-mounted face that is split down the middle. It is great to see how the two relate visually.

Special notice should also be given to Robert Thomas' portrait of the writer James Baldwin and Jeffree Stewart's oil painting "Standing Symbol," one of Stewart's best yet.

17th ANNUAL JURIED LOCAL ART EXHIBITION, noon-5 p.m., Monday-Thursday, through Aug. 9, Tacoma Community College, Building 5A, entrance off South 12th St. between Pearl and Mildred, Tacoma, visitor parking in Lot G,

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