Monday, July 24, 2017 This Week's Paper

Mosaic arts converge in Tacoma

// Exhibits coincide with Society of American Mosaic Artists conference April 10-13

The ancient art of mosaics is getting the royal treatment in Tacoma, with exhibits and events at several city art galleries. It's all inspired by the 2013 Society of American Mosaic Artists (SAMA) conference that's happening April 10-13 at Museum of Glass (MOG) and Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center.

Group exhibits of brilliant mosaic art are on display at MOG and at Handforth Gallery inside Tacoma Public Library. Organized by SAMA, “Mosaic Arts International 2013” at MOG is a juried art show that presents the best in contemporary mosaics from SAMA's diverse international membership. Using both traditional and non-traditional materials and techniques, the artists on display beautifully show how the art form is being propelled into the 21st century in the most incomparable ways. “This (MOG) exhibition provides a unique opportunity to view outstanding examples of mosaic art from around the world within a single venue, illustrating the exciting ways that artists are utilizing this ancient art form with a modern and contemporary approach,” said Shug Jones, president of the SAMA Board of Trustees.

The exhibit of two- and three-dimensional works, representing 47 artists from seven countries, incorporates a vast array of materials varying from ceramic and glass to rusted metal, petrified wood and dinosaur bones. Seeing is believing when it comes to mosaic arts in that the complexity and diversity of the art form is at once eye-pleasing and compelling to view.

This is definitely the case with the work of Japan's premier mosaic artist Toyoharu Kii, who will be the keynote speaker at the SAMA conference. Kii exhibits his work internationally and has participated in some of the most prestigious mosaic arts exhibitions in Europe and the Soviet Union. SAMA exhibition committee chair and president emeritus Karen Ami said Kii's artwork "is notable for its quietness, subdued color and textural intricacy. It exemplifies the beauty and powerful language of the best of contemporary mosaic art."

More delightful mosaics are on view at Handforth Gallery for the regional mosaic art invitational exhibition “Northwest Mosaic Today.” The collection numbers at least 50 works selected by Kelley Knickerbocker of Seattle and Richard S. Davis of Whidbey Island, co-chairs of the SAMA conference. This is another must-see art experience for many reasons. The subject matter ranges from breathtaking landscapes and abstract impressionist pieces to portraiture and 3-dimensional sculpture. Some of the artists used just glass, or stained glass, in their artwork, while others use many items, such as pottery shards, stones and crystals, shells, beads, marbles, driftwood and found objects.

“There's no limit to what mosaic artists can include in their artwork,” said Knickerbocker. “We're always on the lookout for an interesting piece of glass or found object to add to our stash.”

Davis said that finding materials is half the fun. “I love sleuthing in antique shops and recycled building material stores. My wife calls the piles of stuff I collect junk; I call it inventory. I guess it's a matter of perspective.”

Last but not least, Proctor Art Gallery (3811 N. 26th St.) has invited mosaic artist Patty Franklin to show her works April 3 through May 6. Franklin takes mosaics to whole new levels with her whimsical mosaic tiled musical instruments and “Into the Woods,” her kaleidoscopic representations of the Pacific Northwest forests she sees outside her Woodinville home.