By Susan Christian
Joe Batt has been teaching ceramic sculpture at South Puget Sound Community College for at least 20 years. He has shown his work at the college, in Olympia storefronts and at local galleries. His work has traditionally charmed with attractive color and fairytale references, and engaged social issues, such as the effect of communications technology on children. Student shows at SPSCC have consistently shown his students working at high levels of both craft and thought. He is a local treasure.
Batt’s current exhibit at Allsorts Gallery in the South Capitol neighborhood is entitled “Late Night Lagomorphic Marauders.” Don’t worry about not knowing what this means; show-goers will get the picture when they arrive.
The short version: rabbits. Or, as Batt correctly describes them, hares. He says that he first saw hares when he was five or so, and they were “quick, fearless, and bigger than me.” Naturally enough, all of these hares — ceramic, with some works on paper — are scary. Most of them are fighting other hares. All of them are muscly, fierce and ruthless. Many are boxing or wrestling; one has slung his defeated enemy over his shoulders like meat. One is having an argument with a bear. He’s bigger than the bear.
These are not bunnies. They’re scary. Why are they scary? Because they are behaving like us.
In his notes, Batt writes that in feeling challenged to depict close bodily conflict, he found it difficult “not to suggest affection or even eroticism.” He asks, “Are we perpetually enraptured by the almost unimaginable foolishness of those we disagree with?”
In this day and age of public not-niceness, this collection of charming but furious creatures asks us questions we should try to answer.
Joe Batt, Late Night Lagomorphic Marauders
Allsorts Gallery, 2306 Capitol Way S., Olympia
5-7 p.m. April 11-13 and 19-20;
Reception 4-7 p.m. Sunday, April 14