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The gift of art

Tacoma receives two new galleries

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Christmas is not the best time for artists and art galleries. Nobody ever gives art for Christmas. They should, but they don’t. I, for one, would love to get a painting by Ron Hinson or Chauney Peck or one of Holly Senn’s sculptures made from old books. But most people are afraid of giving art as a gift — remembering, perhaps, how they hid the painting of dogs playing poker Aunt Suzie gave them and drag it out only when she visits.

Art galleries tend to run group holiday shows, meaning they pull out the paintings that have been stored in a back room all year.

But Tacoma’s newest galleries either don’t know what a dreary time of year the holiday season is for art businesses or they are too optimistic to care. Not one but two new galleries have just opened in Tacoma, and another has reopened in a new location.

Fulcrum Art Gallery opened last week with a multimedia installation called “Lambscapes” by Joseph Miller. I haven’t had a chance to see the show yet, but I hope to see it soon. I’ve been told that shows at Fulcrum will run for two months with the main gallery focusing on sculpture and installation works and a smaller gallery focusing on design work. Fulcrum shows will be curated by glass artist and interior designer Oliver Doriss.

The second new gallery is The Lark Gallery located inside Sanford & Son Antiques. Its opening show is “Pixelations: Beyond the Visible,” paintings by Danielle McClenahan. An opening announcement proclaims that the gallery “proposes to display original artwork from emerging artists from Tacoma and around the globe while offering art prices that make it accessible to many budgets. The gallery will have rotating monthly artists as well as items from an ongoing cadre of local artists such as Niels Wacht, Kari Thoreen, Mindy Barker and James Hume.”

Mineral is reopening in the old Ice Box Gallery space at 301 Puyallup Ave. Currently showing is an exhibition of clown paintings by Seattle artist Cathy Sarkowsky, plus a display of new bronze and silver jewelry.

Up north in the Emerald City there’s a marvelous painting exhibition by a transplanted New Yorker that is really worth seeing — even if it means braving holiday traffic. The painter is Donald Cole, and he’s one of the best pure painters to come our way in a long time. Cole was a successful artist in New York, showing in such prestigious galleries as 55 Mercer and Nancy Hoffman, but he left the Big Apple to settle on Vashon Island and is now showing his most recent paintings at ArtXchange on First Avenue near Pioneer Square.

Cole makes simple but graphically rich abstract paintings based on Sanskrit and other Asian languages and imagery. “During the last twenty years my main inspiration has come from extensive travel in Asia where one is bombarded by complex layers of forms and colors and by the many creative expressions of spirituality that pervade Asian life, especially in India,” Cole writes in a personal statement on his Web site. “The signs and symbols and the effects of time and weather on the shrines and walls affect the content of my work and balance my formal concerns with human and caring concerns.”

Finally, I just received an urgent e-mail saying I absolutely have to see the Elaine Faaborg show at One Heart Café, next to the Grand Cinema. This is another show I haven’t seen yet, but the note came from C.J. Swanson, an artist and curator whose taste I absolutely trust.  I saw images of Faaborg’s work on the Web at, and they look great.

[Fulcrum Art Gallery, 1308 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma, 253.250.0520]

[The Lark Gallery, noon to 5 p.m. Friday-Sunday, 5-9 p.m. Third Thursday, 743 Broadway, 253.383.3168,]

[Mineral, noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday or by appointment, through Dec. 31, 301 Puyallup Ave., 253.250.7745]

[ArtXchange, through Dec. 29, 512 First Ave. S., Seattle]

[One Heart Café, through January, 604 S. Fawcett]

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