Once upon a time (or so we might imagine), the Christmas spirit would descend around this time of year and the town’s merchants would respond with garish window displays. Rosy cheeked, mitten-handed townsfolk would stroll the sidewalks of the business districts to look at the festive displays before returning home to eat roast chestnuts and drink hot cocoa and listen to carols on the tube radio.
Tacoma’s own Fulcrum Gallery – the treasure box on the Hilltop – is currently showing an installation that hearkens back to that time of civic life when window-shopping was not a lost art. Entitled “Das Wunder Forst” (The Wonderful Forest), the sumptuous holiday window show is the work of Georgetown-based glass artist Dehanna Jones.
Jones’ candy-bright vases and bowls are on display in the gallery space; some on pedestals dolled up in velvet ribbons and bows, some on warm, wooden fixtures. The main heft of the installation, however, is set in the gallery’s two big windows.
In one window is a grid – a heavy mesh of stainless steel. A colorful, hand blown glass ornament hangs in each square of the grid. Fancy lettering painted directly onto the window reads “Balls of Joy, $20 each.” Behind them is a tall Christmas tree upon whose boughs hang more of the ornaments.
While the display of ornaments is bright and beautiful, it is the other window that delivers the knockout punch. Here, a row of huge glass tubes, each topped with a Santa Claus hat, stands before the viewer. Each of the tubes is filled with brilliant glass balls of various sizes. Snowy white bits of fluff inside the tubes are constantly blowing about giving a snow globe effect. The windowsill is also covered in the faux snow and lit with Christmas lights. The show title, “Das Wunder Forst,” is emblazoned on this window.
The window displays make this show something akin to the Spaceworks project or the Woolworth windows: art meant to be experienced from the sidewalk. It is best to have a look after dark when the display is lit up in all its glory.
Anyone who has made the holiday pilgrimage north to Seattle knows that Tacoma is lacking in the Christmas spirit department. The Fulcrum Gallery is just one little island of color, light and imagination. Were a dozen such displays strung together in close proximity, there’d be such a wow factor that crowds would come into town to stroll the sidewalks and experience such light and pageantry. We denizens of Tacoma would have more options than the zoo or Spanaway Park to get our holiday light fix.
Such outposts as the Fulcrum Gallery need to be appreciated. For those wishing to avoid the spiritually questionable experience of the shopping mall and the chain store, a venture to the Hilltop is in order. Here one can shop in such a way that local arts are supported and hands-on craftsmanship is celebrated.
The show’s opening reception is Dec. 15 from 6-9 pm. Fulcrum Gallery is located at 1308 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. For further information visit www.fulcrumtacoma.com or call (253) 250-0520.