Tacoma Art Museum celebrates the creativity and legacy of one of the Northwest’s more innovative and influential artist families in the new exhibit “The Marioni Family: Radical Experimentations in Glass and Jewelry.” It showcases works of father Paul Marioni, his son Dante Marioni and daughter Marina Marioni.
Several works by Paul greet visitors on a wall at the start of the exhibit. “The Warriors – The Shapers of Our Destiny” is a leaded glass piece made in 1984. It depicts three figures. One wearing a hood is a mirror, allowing taller viewers to see their reflection. One is a flat, white figure with a featureless face. Another figure has a blank yellow face with orange sunray hair.
“Orca” is another flat piece. It depicts a whale jumping out of the water with the moon in the background.
“The Visitor” is a series of blown glass pieces. The first has a figure in black with a hood similar to the one in “Warriors.” A white hut is in the background. A set of the letter “o” floats off to the side of the figure, as if it is calling out to someone.
The second shows the same figure with a pink moon.
One of the more intriguing of his pieces is “The Come On.” It has a figure with a very long nose and circular holes for eyes. It instantly reminded this reviewer of the facemasks worn by the heavy-metal band Slipknot.
“Bagman” is a piece in glass and enamel. It has a figure with a square face and gray pointed ears.
“Prototypes for the Bagman” are three blown glass cylinders with this figure.
We see this figure again on a ledge with six vases, in the one called “Bagman Blues.”
“The Calculated Lie” allows for interaction with museum visitors. A sign encourages them to give a nudge to this clear glass piece in a figure eight.
After the more complex pieces, his “Nerve” is quite minimalist. It is a panel of clear glass with the nerve spelled in cursive letters.
One area of the space has Marina Marioni’s jewelry. “Bloodless Diamond,” a work of silver, cotton and resin made earlier this year, is shaped like a necktie. White circles contain diamonds drawn in black.
A case contains four small strips of fabric containing glass beads, nylon threads, enamel and sterling silver.
“Heaven Is There” is an interesting piece shaped like a crucifix. An earring shaped like a human leg dangles from it.
A display case has 94 glass goblets made by Dante Marioni.
A television screen shows footage of an episode from last year of the Public Broadcasting System series “Craft in America” devoted to the Marionis.
Another screen plays the documentary “Paul Marioni, Artist,” created by John Forsen.
Some works by other artists in Paul’s collection, which will be a future gift to the museum, are included.
One of the more interesting of these is “Monster” by Dick Weiss. This leaded glass piece depicts what appears to be a cross between a fish and an insect. Some of the panels are clear glass. The viewer can look through them, and the window behind, and see Union Station.
The exhibit will be on display through Sept. 23.
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