You walk into the gallery â€" a room just past a hot dog stand, behind a running store â€" and the colors overtake you. The warmest warm tones, then the chilliest of cools, invite your curiosity in. Upon further inspection, the soothing-though-disturbingly-reminiscent-of- something-you-canâ€™t-quite-pit-your-finger-on patterns and tactile quality of the abstract pieces hanging on the wall engage you in ways you wouldnâ€™t have expected â€œdeadâ€ materials to.
But Andre Schweersâ€™ "bibliotecha conservata" exhibition, showing now at the University of Washington â€" Tacoma Gallery (UWTG), isnâ€™t just papier, paraffin, and pigment. Schweersâ€™ background education in Art History, Sculpture, and Geography, as well as his participation in archaeological excavations in Italy, Greece, Turkey, and France, peeks through his works. His 14 yearsâ€™ work as conservator and archivist for the Stiftung Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museum in Duisburg, Germany, where he acquires the bulk of his artistic media, adds a vaguely â€œDaVinci Codeâ€-like mystery to the exhibition.
At first glance, the pieces appear to be colorfully sculptural works. As a whole, the collection pleases the eye through bright colors and repeating patterns. Upon closer inspection, the textural elements like the papier clawing through the paraffin come through at you like a bad guy in a horror film. They invite, and inhibit, touch. They evoke curiosity behind intent, process, and the materials.
Schweerâ€™s work is site-specific in his intent, and seems at home here, during curator Lani Ladbonâ€™s last exhibition with the UWTG, with Ladbon having graduated. She fulfilled what she set out to do over a year ago when University of Washington faculty member Beverly Naidus planted the seed to Ladbon to utilize the existing space that the UWT had set aside as a gallery.
â€My mission,â€ declares Ladbon, â€œwas to curate one year worth of consecutive monthly exhibits.â€
In October of 2005, Ladbon painted the gallery walls, curated and hung her first show, and now, 12 months later, prepares to leave her legacy in other hands.
But for now, the space formerly used as a warehouse, then forgotten, then reformed as potential commercial space owned by the UWT, houses works that speak to what Ladbon calls, â€œa memory transformed and transcended.â€
And itâ€™s up to the viewer to decode what that memory is, what secrets lie in the archival papier, paraffin, and pigment.
Andreâ€™ Schweersâ€™ â€œbibliotecha conservataâ€ shows at the UWTG at 1742 Pacific Avenue, right behind Hot Rod Dogs and South Sound Running. A reception will be held on Oct.19, between 5 and 9 p.m. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for hours of operation. â€" Jessica Corey-Butler