Metal-Urge treasures found in Two Vaults

A wobbly looking tower of yellow, metal three-dimensional cubes nearly reaches to the ceiling of Two Vaults Gallery. The happy, playful looking piece is called "Primary Geometry - Yellow: 5" by artist James Kelsey. It stands proud in a corner at the front of the gallery among the other Metal-Urge sculptures.

"The work has been so different. It's all been very well received," said Paula Tutmarc-Johnson, owner of Two Vaults Gallery.

Metal-Urge is a citywide celebration of metal arts, which was launched by the Tacoma Art Commission in June and will continue until September 20. The community event boasts 23 venues exhibiting the work of more than 100 artists, whose work include jewelry, sculpture, vessels, hardware, home decor, enamel and artifacts. Metal-Urge coincides with two major jewelry exhibitions at the Tacoma Art Museum, "Ornament as Art" and "Loud Bones." Tutmarc-Johnson has been another community supporter and has been displaying many metal-themed pieces in her gallery among the hundreds of local artists she already has on display.

One metal artist, Newfoundland's Margie McDonald offered several stunning pieces reminiscent of the sea and nature. McDonald's "McClura Pomifera," was made from granite, steel, copper, Newfoundland rocks and osage orange seed, and looked like an organized tower of birds nests. From there, eyes skim over to McDonald's "Chiton," a futuristic-looking seashell made from stainless steel refrigerator units and copper. Resting delicately on a shelf directly above, artist Lynne Hull's "Wishing Well" bowl is made from copper, brass and bronze, and creatively fuses the beauty of nature and the hardness of industry. A lovely pair of metal leaves is soldered to the front of the bowl, adding interesting detail and simple elegance. McDonald offers three other interesting pieces. "Hirsuta Longifolia," made from crocheted copper wire, has long arms that drape over its stand, making it look like a rusty octopus.  The second is "Anemone," made from steel raided cable; this looks, quite frankly, like its name. The last piece, visitors will find hanging above their heads in four bulbous shapes, made from aluminum, resistors and tags from the leg bands of chickens. McDonald has a bit of fun with the title, too -"Nobody here but us chickens."

Tutmarc-Johnson feels lucky that she gets to spend her day among the work of the region's talent. She noted that she feels the citywide Metal-Urge show has been a huge hit so far.

"It's probably been the most far-reaching and successful show since the suitcases," Tutmarc-Johnson said. "The word is out, people know about it and have really responded."


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