I love award shows and best-of stories. Thumbing through the recent Best of Tacoma special issue of the Weekly Volcano was a lot of fun. Such competitive lists and awards allow us to see if other people agree with our choices of the best of whatever, and don't we all love to do that? But whenever we choose one person or one place as the best-of, that means everyone else is less-than, and that's seldom true and never fair.
For instance, the Weekly Volcano readers just picked Fulcrum as the best art gallery in Tacoma, and not for the first time. I think Fulcrum is great. I even wrote the article extolling their virtues. In years past, when Volcano scribes picked their own choices I also chose Fulcrum. But if I had been doing the picking this year I would have chosen B2 Gallery. B2, I suspect, has been unfairly overlooked. Perhaps it's because there is kind of a staid feel to the place. Perhaps they do not appeal to the young and hip Volcano readers but to a slightly older and possibly more conservative audience. Fulcrum has a funky feel to it and is more cutting-edge in their selection of artists. But you don't get much funkier than Ric Hall and Ron Schmitt whose surrealistic collaborative pastel paintings were recently shown at B2.
The thing is, I don't think Tacoma appreciates that B2 has brought important art to Tacoma. I'm talking museum quality art - nothing so grand, of course, as the wonderful Marie Watt installation or as historically relevant as the Norman Rockwell retrospective at Tacoma Art Museum - but important work nevertheless.
Starting with their current exhibition and working back:
Summer Convergence, now on display, is an exhibition on Asian-American art and Asian-influenced American art that ties into a Northwest tradition going back to the big four of what was called the Northwest School: Mark Toby, Morris Graves, Keneth Callahan and Guy Anderson.
Prior to the Summer Convergence show was the Hall and Schmitt show I've previously mentioned, which is important because this type of collaboration is something that, to my knowledge, has never before been done by anyone. If their collaborative work does not garner a place in history comparable to that of the Northwest School painters, then someone is not paying attention.
Then there was the youth art show featuring paintings by young artists of high school age and younger from all over the world featuring some future stars from right near home. Right now Tacoma can boast of being the home of such internationally renowned artists as Chuck Close and Dale Chihuly; in the not too distant future, local kids who were first introduced to the public in the show Beyond Crayons & Finger Painting 2.0 may well be as famous as Close and Chihuly, and we can brag that we first saw them at B2 Gallery. This was not the first, but the second major youth art show at B2 - thus the 2.0 in the title. And they are already scouting for young artists for yet another youth art show.
And let's not forget what may be their crowning achievement so far, the wonderful show Sweet Freedom's Jubilee, which brought us fiber artist Mary Johnson's visions in celebration of the 99th Anniversary of the death of Harriett Tubman - a vital look into American history as seen through the eyes of a talented artist.
It's your loss if you missed any of these shows. I hope you'll take advantage of your opportunity to see their current exhibition and keep your eyes open for their next show and the next after that.