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Surprising 3-D show

Show features Ric Hall and a cast of newbies to Tacoma's art scene

“All Lines in the Water,” mixed media by Shannon Weber. Photo courtesy B2 Fine Art Gallery

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Winter Pop-Up at B2 Fine Art Gallery is a surprisingly rich collection of sculpture, basketry and pottery by (mostly) artists who are new to the Tacoma art scene - the one exception being longtime local favorite Ric Hall, who is showing a totally new work never before seen and a radical departure from what we're used to seeing from him.

More on Hall's painted apple prunings and mixed-media sculptures by Shannon Weber later, but first an overview of the show. Featured artists are Hall, Weber, Mary Hosick, Sharon Feeney, Steve Sauer and Patty McPhee. There are some nicely executed and rather traditional ceramic and sculptural work by Hosick, Feeney and McPhee. I was especially impressed with Hosick's ceramics and also liked McPhee's sensual and minimalist wood carvings of abstract forms based on the female figure and Feeney's asymmetrical, half-moon shaped "Budding." Sauer's massive ceramic fertility vessels are rough, gritty and powerful. While modernistic in style and form, they evoke ancient and primitive art that grabs at the gut and won't let go.

Hosick warrants a show all her own, and her work is relegated to a separate room in the gallery with a selection of 14 felted wool and silk and stoneware pots. The smaller pots with felted wool and silk patches adhered to the surface like organic accretions present wonderfully contrasting textures and glazes. Her pieces with sculpted tubes going through and out of ceramic forms are like Stone Age scientific instruments left on Earth by an alien race. One piece that is different from all her others is "Flight Patterns," a playful and decorative mixed-media sculpture with butterfly wings fluttering in front of a blue circle with another of her tubes piercing the whole. There is a shamanistic quality to her pottery.

Now back to Hall and the other surprising find in this show: Weber. Their pieces in this show have a decidedly outsider appearance like the works of untrained, often insane and artistically obsessed artists, and yet they are clearly educated and well versed in art history, theory and practice.

Hall is locally famous for cubist-surrealistic pastel paintings done in collaboration with his partner in crime, Ron Schmitt.  What he is showing here is a collection of about 15 painted prunings from an apple tree. In one cubbyhole section of the gallery, 13 small pieces line the walls on shelves mounted about five feet off the floor. They are knotted, gnarled and sensual, and painted with bright colors with thick and often clotted paint that brings into view figures and faces suggested to the artist's fertile imagination by the shapes of the limbs. Study them carefully and you'll find an almost infinite number of surprises. In another nearby section of the gallery are a couple more of these, but they are larger and more expansive, with long limbs that reach as if soaring into space.

Weber is showing a number of fantastic sculptures both free-standing and wall hanging created out of a mixture of unusual materials including sticks, bones, kelp and many other found materials. They are enigmatic and strangely beautiful, and evoke Northwest Native American art. There is one piece that is a large ball of impossibly bent and twisted sticks. I can't imagine how she managed to weave them together in such a manner. Another, "3 Moons," is a burnt piece of wood, smooth as polished rock, with a smaller and differently burned hunk of wood that looks like charcoal mounted on top. It is as rough as the other is smooth, and dead center on it are three little button-like moons stitched to the burnt wood with kelp and waxed Lenin thread. It is beautiful and yet ominous. Next to "3 Moons" is "All Lines in the Water," a small canoe shape with five little woven baskets stuffed inside like men crammed into a too-small boat. It is made of kelp pieces, fish bones, reclaimed washers and other exotic materials.

There is little time left to see this show. I strongly suggest you see it as soon as possible.

WINTER POP-UP, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, till 9 p.m. through Feb. 13, B2 Fine Art Gallery, 711 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma, 253.238.5065

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