It's a nice little show - paintings by Angela Wales Rockett and pastels by Karen Utter at the Handforth Gallery in the Tacoma Main Library. Rockett and Utter share a studio and share sensibilities about art. Both create works that are pleasant to look at. They are solidly designed and display a good feel for color, texture and mark making.
My only complaint is that they're too safe, too comfy. I want to see them stretch a little. I have seen previous works from each and I perused their works online - I know they're capable of more.
Rockett paints what she calls "evocative inner landscapes" in acrylic. The paintings are abstract landscapes reduced to atmospheric fields of color, mostly blues with red and orange accents. The paint application is loose and brushy, creating the feel of stormy clouds and water. There is some layering and paint build-up, and I wish there was more. Within these fields of color she draws with other media, not listed on the wall labels, but apparently pencil and pastels or crayons of some sort, and she scratches delicate lines into the surfaces.
Her color choices relate to nature without mimicking nature. In most of the paintings in this show the colors are dull, although there is one glaring exception: a brilliantly hued painting on the back wall that is the first thing you see when you upon walk into the gallery. It is titled "The Guest Hours." The color scheme is the same as in most of her other paintings but kicked up in intensity. The blue of this painting is luminous and certainly attracts attention, but I think I like the duller pieces better.
When viewing Rockett's paintings, be sure to go around to the back hall where a few other paintings are displayed, including some from a series of tree paintings that are harsher in form with scratchier marks, and the one other one that breaks from her typical color scheme, "Flames of Autumn," which is on fire with orange.
Utter's works are small topiary landscapes in pastel. They are much more colorful than Rockett's landscapes and more fanciful, looking like illustrations in a children's book of topiary gardens that feature trees shaped like long, thin footballs balanced on end and clumps of leaves in solid spheres.
One of the best is "In the Still of Night 2 AM," which features green hedges on either side of a dark blue gate with an imposing blue building centered behind the gate and spherical clumps of leaves that look like bounding balls in the air.
These paintings are playful and full of joy and light. Her drawing is energetic and lyrical.
Another favorite (which is marked as sold) is a tiny picture called "Study IV." Three spheres of orange march along the horizon outlined with a midnight blue halo on fields of brilliant blue and violet.
THE HANDFORTH GALLERY AT TACOMA PUBLIC LIBRARY MAIN BRANCH, “VIEWS FROM WITHIN,” THROUGH APRIL 30, 1102 TACOMA AVE. S., TACOMA, 253.292.2007