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Year-end roundup

Best art in Tacoma right now

RAY TURNER: "Man with Blue Eyes on Muted Green," 2012, oil on glass; 12 x 12 inches each. Photo credit: courtesy of artist

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In the time-worn tradition of journalists worldwide who don't know what else to do after Christmas, here's a round-up of the best art shows in Tacoma still on view as the new year dawns.

The selection is rather slim - three shows. But what wonderful shows they are. They are Andy Warhol's Flowers for Tacoma and Best of the Northwest: Selected Paintings from the Collection, both at Tacoma Art Museum, and Ray Turner: Population at Museum of Glass.

Warhol, of course, is a legendary artist, one of the primary Pop artists and, simultaneously, the first Post-Modernist. His flower paintings, drawings and silk screens may not be as famous as his soup cans or as impactful as the celebrity portraits and electric chairs, but the ones in this show are special because at least some of them were made specifically for Tacoma. There was supposed to be an Andy Warhol flower on the roof of the Tacoma Dome. But it never happened.

In this exhibition Tacomans get to see Warhol's original proposal for the Tacoma Dome flowers in the form of letters, drawings and paintings, plus more than 100 other works of art by the Pop Art master. The art includes early illustrations from the 1950s, photographs, paintings, lithographs both black and white and hand-colored, photographs of Andy at work in The Factory, and more.

In my earlier review of this show I wrote that we may never fully know Warhol but

"... this exhibition goes a long way toward puzzling out the enigma that is Andy Warhol."

Also continuing at TAM, Best of the Northwest features such luminaries as Alden Mason, Mark Toby, Guy Anderson, Morris Graves, Jacob Lawrence and Kenneth Callahan. This show is an absolute must for anyone who has a spark of regional pride and love of art.

On exhibition at Museum of Glass are recent works by the Viennese maestro Lino Tagliapietra (through Jan. 6 only) and Scapes by Laura de Santillana and
Alessandro Diaz de Santillana through the end of the month. These are both excellent shows of contemporary glass art, but the real blockbuster is Ray Turner: Population.

Turner is a former Stadium High student from Tacoma now living in California. His exhibition at Museum of Glass features almost 200 portraits painted on glass with lush oil paint slathered on the slick surface like cement poured from a mixer and spread with a yard rake. His colors and textures are breathtaking, and his likenesses of real people offer glimpses into the souls of his sitters. They might as well stand naked and tell their innermost secrets.

Each individual portrait is astonishing, and the manner in which they are displayed on the walls becomes a work of art in itself. I can't recommend this show highly enough.

The museums are within easy walking distance, so make a day of it. You owe it to yourself.

TACOMA ART MUSEUM, ANDY WARHOL'S FLOWERS FOR TACOMA, THROUGH FEB. 10, WEDNESDAY-SUNDAY, 10 A.M. TO 5 P.M., THIRD THURSDAYS 10 A.M. TO 8 P.M., $8-$10, CHILDREN 5 AND YOUNGER FREE, THIRD THURSDAYS FREE FROM 5-8 P.M., 1701 PACIFIC AVE., TACOMA, 253.272.4258

MUSEUM OF GLASS, RAY TURNER: POPULATION, THROUGH JUNE 3, 10 A.M. TO 5 P.M. WEDNESDAY-SATURDAY, NOON TO 5 P.M. SUNDAY, $5-$12, CHILDREN 5 AND YOUNGER FREE, 1801 DOCK ST. TACOMA, 866.4MUSEUM

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