Strange creatures both human and animal lurk in the front rooms of Fulcrum Gallery. The show is called Visions from the Other Side Surrealistic Portraits, a Group Show. Featured are works by Larkin Cypher, Kelsi Finney, Jeremy Gregory and Keith Carter.
The work is inventive. Each artist has a personal, sometimes warped and often funny vision of the world or of worlds beyond this world. The craftsmanship, drawing and painting skill is undeniable. The strongest works visually are Gregory's black jesso, pencil and aerosol paintings; Finney's gouache, watercolor ad pencil drawings; and Cypher's elaborate, homemade frames. Carter's drawings of bears and gorillas and a cricket and a goldfish are skillfully executed but not particularly inventive or interesting in terms of color, composition or paint application. I do, however, give him credit for anthropomorphizing his animals in a delightful, children's-illustration fashion, and I must say I got a kick out his picture of Santa Claus drinking Jack Daniels whiskey.
About Gregory's paintings: First, I don't know what jesso is. Perhaps a misspelling of gesso, or maybe a painting media of his own invention? I'm also not sure about what he means by aerosol. Spray paint, I guess. But I do know that there is a wonderfully dark, chalky and brittle look to his paintings. They are full of mystery and seem to illustrate stories without giving enough information about what's going on. There's one in which a large ghostlike or masklike face emerges from the shadows and another in which can be seen resist writing or writing that appears to have been burnt into the surface of a picture as if etched by acid. There is one called "The Day It All Changed" that is dark and ominous - actually they are all dark and ominous - yet simultaneously very tender. It pictures what I interpret to be a father and his daughter tending an injured bird person.
Gregory is also showing some horror-show puppets that are designed so that you, if you buy one, can pose them any way you want. They come with their own settings and props - ready-made theatrical scenes. My favorites are a couple with black faces and hands and long, white fangs riding an old rusty skate as if it's a convertible car. They're called "The Creepy in love Couple." There's also a rodeo clown sitting on top of his dressing room/trunk with a chicken in one hand and a whiskey flask in the other that I really like.
Larken is showing fantasy paintings of dark creatures in tones of charcoal black and sepia with wonderfully elaborate frames made of woven fabric.
Finney's drawings are delicate with finely drawn details and rich impasto surfaces and a wonderful glow to the yellow tone that predominates.
In the back room is a photographic installation by Sharon Styer called Nightwatchman, which deserves a review all its own. I'll grant it that favor next week in this column.
[Fulcrum Gallery, Visions from the other side, noon to 6 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and by appointment, through July 14, 1308 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma, 253.250.0520]