Broadway's open-air art gallery

Intriguing installations on Pacific Avenue

By Alec Clayton on August 19, 2010

I checked out a few more installations from the Spaceworks Tacoma Artscapes project starting with The Blood That Runs Through Ongoing Dialogue by Mary Coss, June Sekiguchi and Pamela Hom at 950 Pacific Ave. It is fabulous. It obliquely addresses the theme of lifecycles, leaving much for the viewer to imagine.

Sometimes artists use the term "installation" to describe their work when "display" would be a more appropriate term. An installation should use all of the space available, should be a unified whole, and should invite viewers in. The Blood That Runs Through Us... does exactly that. The space consists of a huge room with double picture windows and a smaller connected alcove with a smaller window, and the hanging plaster sculptures and paintings and conduit and ductwork winding throughout the space invite the viewer in to crawl under and step over the continuous, all-in-one pieces and immerse themselves in the work.

Of course you can't actually step in. There is the artificial barrier of the storefront windows keeping you out. But you can wander through in your imagination.

The larger space is filled with white plaster sculptures that are variations on the same pregnant woman. In most versions she is grabbing her crotch or thigh. One version is an angel or cherub with gossamer wings. Similar figures are printed on large banners that hang from the ceiling. Winding throughout are dryer ducts and commercial conduit that serve as unifying elements that make the figures into weird half-human birthing robots. The smaller room continues the theme, but the pregnant women are replaced with slimmer figures whose stomachs are opened to reveal inner workings. All of the figures are connected by the conduit at vital spots.

A press release described the work as a "meditation on family relationships in different cultures," pointing out that Sekiguchi is Nisei, a second generation Japanese-American; Hom's father emmigrated from China; and Coss is fifth generation removed from her countries of heritage. 

Farther south on Pacific Avenue at Tollefson Plaza one finds works by James Sinding and Janet Marcavage. 

Along the back of the plaza are three very large and colorful plastic flowers by Marcavage. They're attractive but more a decorative element than art. If there were enough to line the entire back edge of the plaza they would have greater impact.

Sinding's piece also looked unfinished at first, but it's supposed to be constantly in flux as the public is invited to change it. It is a set of large, colorful letters. You can rearrange them like refrigerator poems. How fun is that!


Mary Coss, June Sekiguchi and Pamela Hom through Sept. 27
950 Pacific Ave., Tacoma

James Sinding, Tollefson Plaza, through Aug. 31
Seventeenth and Pacific Avenue across from Tacoma Art Museu, Tacoma

Alexander Keyes and Janet Marcavage,through Sept. 15
Tollefson Plaza, 17th and Pacific avenue, Tacoma