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Visual Edge: Building the Future: Collections at Evergreen

This is a show worth seeing

Installation view of "Building the Future" at The Evergreen State College"

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"Building the Future: Collections at Evergreen" highlights not only works of art from the art gallery collection at The Evergreen State College but also collections from the Malcolm Stilson Archives and Special Collections, the Chicano/Latino Archive, the James F. Holly Rare Books Collection, the Longhouse Education and Cultural Center and Evergreen Pictures.

In the space allowed for this column I cannot begin to describe all that is in this exhibition. There are books authored by Evergreen faculty and students/alumni; and prints and photographs from famous artists such as Andy Warhol and Diane Arbus. There are crafts from Northwest Native Americans.

As you enter the gallery you see woodcarvings and masks by Native artists and two wonderful lithographs by Rick Bartow, a Native artist well known in the area whose art skillfully combines contemporary and traditional forms of expression. Along the right wall are photographs depicting the history of the college from the Evans Library collection, and facing back toward the entrance is the "Chained Library," a display of books connected by chains and written by TESC alumni. There are two short films on a continuous loop: "House of Welcome" produced and directed by Sandy Osawa and Yasu Osawa, and "Mary Hillaire: A Lasting Vision" by Barbara Smith and the late Marge Brown, former faculty member. Hillaire founded the Native American Studies Program at Evergreen.

Along the back wall is a richly colored and glowing line of fabric wall tiles from Liz Whitney Quisgard's "Wall Hanging Series." It is a series of 10 squares lined up to fill an entire wall with overlapping geometric patterns in burning tones of red, orange, purple and yellow. It is quite beautiful and deceptively simple; i.e., much more complex than it looks at first.

Another wall is filled with photographs, mostly black and white, and prints by a variety of artists. Among these is a strong portrait of Helmi Johnson by the great local photographer Mary Randlett. There is a lovely photo by Judy Dater of a woman, "Twinka," in a see-through dress in a wooded setting with deep, dark eyes and a fierce expression. There are two famous photos by Edward Weston, "Nude" and "Bell Pepper." Both the food and the woman become strong abstract sculptures due to Weston's lighting and camera angle. Surely everyone will recognize Andy Warhol's color portrait of Keith Haring, but how many will recognize his lover, Juan Dubose? They are pictured along with Miquel Bose, the jokey Willie Shoemaker, and Bracka Weintraub. These four Polaroid portraits by Warhol are mounted in a single frame. On a stand nearby is a book of 50 photos by Warhol donated by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts including portraits of many of his friends - some celebrities and some unknown.

Also showing is Diane Arbus's famous and haunting image of a boy with a toy hand grenade in Central Park, and finally an iconographic lithograph by the great Jacob Lawrence, "Builders: Man on a Scaffold."

This is a show worth seeing. The only thing missing is work by past and present faculty members and students such as Marilyn Frasca, Joe Fedderson, Matt Groening and Lynda Barry, just to name a few. Maybe those can comprise a follow-up show.

"BUILDING THE FUTURE: COLLECTIONS AT EVERGREEN," 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and Wednesday, 12:30-5 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, through March 4, The Evergreen State College Gallery, 2700 Evergreen Parkway NW, Library 1st floor, Olympia, 360.867.5125

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