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Visual Edge: Tacoma Artscapes Round 12 behind glass

Educating Girls and more on display at the Woolworth windows

"Educating Girls," window installation by Ellen Hochberg

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Ellen Hochberg's installations "Boxes" and "Educating Girls" in the Woolworth windows are identity art. They put out there for your contemplation questions of how girls see themselves and how they are seen by others. As conceptual art they are interesting if not earth shattering; aesthetically they are like well-conceived minimalist sculpture combined with filmmaking that is equally minimalist ("Boxes") and hip window dressing ("Educating Girls").

The latter is a nicely conceived statement with short videos in a line of minimalist boxes, each with a word - Feminist, Middle Aged, White, and so forth, representing the various identity boxes people are put in and expected to stay in. The kicker is that the words and the boxes are perfectly clear, but the faces are blurred and hard to see. The meaning of that could not be clearer than the printed words themselves.

Sadly, when I stopped by to see it this past Saturday the videos were not playing; they were just words in boxes, which gave me the impression I was looking at some kind of bland combination of Jenny Holzer and Donald Judd. Fortunately, Hochberg has posted videos on Facebook at

Her other installation is a wall full of picture frames that at first glance appear to be empty. Standing in front of them with her back to the street is a mannequin of a pre-teen girl studying the wall. Only upon closer examination do we see that inside the picture frames are light gray, almost invisible, silhouettes of girls' faces and soft-focus photos of girls - another take on a similar message to that in "Boxes."

In the next set of windows there is an installation of a dozen photos by Kristin Giordano. Each of the photos but one are of modern housing units - little just-alike boxes of houses jammed together like matches in a matchbox, and with no visible human presence in any of the photos. No people, no cars, no children's toys in the yards. The photos are nicely composed and each features a large expanse of stormy sky above the houses. The very last photo is of the sky only, as if the houses and the people in them no longer matter. As with Hochberg's installations, the possible meanings are easy to suss out.

In the 11th Street end of the expanse of windows on the Broadway side of the building there is a display of outstanding prints from Wayzgoose, and on the floor in front of them is an accordion screen called "The Dream of a Restless Night" that stretches around the corner with surrealistically comic images by Jeremy Gregory and Geoff Weeg. Finally, in the kiosk-like Tollbooth Gallery in front of the building there is a video by Gregory with contributions by Weeg featuring Gregory's delightfully strange puppets. As is usual with the Tollbooth gallery, the art is intriguing but hard to see. Perhaps if you stop by at night it will be more visible.

WOOLWORTH WINDOWS, through Aug. 21, Broadway at 11th and Commerce, Tacoma

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