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Celebrating 50 years of art at Tacoma Community College

TCC art faculty exhibition is a must see

"Out of Balance," wood, beeswax, by Kyle Dillehay

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For its 50th anniversary Tacoma Community College features works by current and former art instructors and alumni, and it's one of the better shows I've seen there in quite some time.

Entering the gallery, you're faced with a wall of circular shapes in shades of white and brown that looked to me like oversized sand dollars. My wife, who attended the show with me, thought they looked like extremely thin slices of wood. The piece is called "Consumption." It's by Kyle Dillehay, and it's made of 69 coffee filters stained with coffee and water and arranged in a grid with a single empty space disrupting the otherwise perfect symmetry. It's a wonderful piece of wall sculpture.

In many ways, Dillehay dominates this show through the variety, number and inventiveness of his work. In addition to the coffee filter piece there is an installation called "Process" that is like a museum ode to photography and printing with many photographed faces on glass plates arranged on a table with photographic equipment, and on the wall behind them are prints of faces presumably made from the same or similar glass plates. I loved the subtle variety of colors in the soft-focus prints and the antique look of the installation.

Another Dillehay piece dominates the back section of the gallery. It is a sculpture with three large honeycombs set in a wooden tray that balances at an extreme angle on a stand that is a tree branch.

I was impressed with Merit Berg's four oil paintings from the "Biome" series, each on a canvas shaped like a house with a peaked roof. In each of the four there are three layers of imagery. The lower level is a landscape. On the middle layer are rectangular shapes painted in flat colors that look like windows in one of the paintings and like floating monoliths in the others, and on the top layers are contour drawings of birds and animals. All of the animals, being contours only, appear to be transparent. The beauty of these paintings is that the images, while clearly layered one on top of the other, do not violate the integrity of the flat picture plane (a concept from Greenbergian formalism that remains important today, despite claims to the contrary by many contemporary critics). 

The show also features a lot of nicely-done ceramic vessels by various artists, one of the nicest of which is a water jar by Anthony Gaudino; a delightful group of gouache paintings of ceramic dogs by Melinda Liebers Cox; and a terrific little painting by Frank Dippolito of a flock of crows flying close to the ground with a black hashtag floating in the clouds.

There are too many others of note to mention them all, but I will close with pointing out one other series of digital prints on what the wall label calls "time warp inkjet paper." The pieces in the series by Anthony Culang are called "Rift#1," "Expand #2" and "Rip#3," each is an image of a woman in a red dress on what appears to be a floor of concrete tiles. The woman's body is distorted as in a funhouse mirror, and the floor undulates in waves. These are strange and fascinating images.

"TCC 50," noon to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, through April 30, Tacoma Community College, Building 5A, entrance off South 12th Street between Pearl and Mildred, Tacoma, visitor parking in Lot G, 253.566.5000

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