REVIEW: Wild Thing at South Puget Sound Community College


There are something like 360 art works by approximately 120 artists in the annual postcard show at South Puget Sound Community College. But who’s counting? Actually, I am. I counted 118 names on the announcement card, but I lost my place while counting and I multiplied that by three because the announcement said each artist was allowed up to three entries. (I know some entered less than three and there were six pieces by Carol Hannum, but as I said: Who’s counting?)

Each piece is the size of a standard postcard, stacked around the gallery in three levels. There are many works by professional artists—including such familiar names as Susan Aurand, Nathan Barnes, Lynette Charters and Susan Christian—and many by amateurs whose names may be known only by their friends and family. Some of the works by amateurs stand up well beside those of professionals.

Nobody judged the show; everything entered was accepted. As you might well guess, there were a hundred or more pieces that were dull, trite, and not well drawn or painted or crafted. That leaves approximately 200, give or take a handful, that are inventive, unique and beautifully crafted. Some are downright stupendous.

There’s a theme every year. This year’s theme was Wild Thing, and it seems many took that to mean wildlife. There are a lot of pictures of birds, bears, pandas and at least one raccoon. (I never before realized how much raccoons look like pandas.) A few refer to Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.

Quite a few of the postcards are surrealistic or wildly comical, some are abstract, and many are simply drawings or paintings of animals. There are even three-dimensional postcards plus a couple of little stained-glass windows in a light box by Britt Nederhood. One of those is a Mondrian-like design in primary colors, the other a comic picture of Donald Trump.

Here’s a smattering of pieces that struck my fancy:

* Barnes’s two intaglio-print celebrity portraits, one of Prince and one of David Bowie. They’re done in a medium that’s new to me, a kind of PVC-pipe material gouged and coated with black ink to create a striking, high-contrast image. There’s an image by Polly Zehm of three sets of pantyhose hanging on a clothesline. The pantyhose are cut out of paper, and the line is a string stapled to paper. It’s funny in a creepy way, like the lower halves of women hung out to dry.

* Vicky Zarrell’s collage of a woodland scene with a 3-D tree trunk glued over a similar tree trunk. This creates a tricky image as in one of René Magritte’s paintings of a painting in front of a window. It’s outstanding for the same reason Magritte’s paintings are.

* Randolph Gerda’s two relief sculptures, one of a bear and one of a bird, made of what looks to be wool.

* Two lovely, little landscape paintings by Mary McCann like the vibrant mountain scenes she recently showed at All Sorts Gallery and Tacoma Community College.

* A dramatic photograph by John Korvell of a man walking a bike. He’s wearing nothing but a thong and a pith helmet. This piece has the dramatic look of a Caravaggio.

* A sweet sculpture in twisted sheet metal by Ron Hinton.

* The aforementioned six works by Carol Hannum, which appear to be graphite, ink and watercolor. They comprise figures and animals, and range from surrealistic to comical. My favorite is her panda.

* Finally, there’s a particularly enjoyable abstract painting by Lois Beck that reminds me of Marcel Duchamp’s Network of Stoppages. It’s non-objective, but I think I saw a man’s head.

Overall, this is a most enjoyable show.

(This review appears courtesy of The Weekly Volcano.)

What: Wild Thing

Where: The Gallery at the Kenneth J Minnaert Center for the Arts,
South Puget Sound Community College,
2011 Mottman Rd. SW, Olympia

When: noon – 4 p.m. weekdays through Feb. 3

How much: free

Learn more: 360-596-5527 | SPSCC

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