Every art program has a set of teachers – masters of various art media. It is the teacher’s task to find the means to pass the knowledge of their medium to their students so that those students develop a fluency that allows them to most fully express themselves in terms of that medium.
Through the years, the art program at Tacoma Community College (TCC) has been fortunate to have a number of uniquely gifted instructors. These women and men have imbued the art program with the vitality of their creativity and wisdom as well as their good humor. The Gallery at TCC is currently hosting a show of work by TCC’s arts faculty. There is much to engage the viewer in this fine collection of ceramics, paintings, prints, drawings, photographs and sculptures.
In the realm of the ceramic arts there are examples of the highly sophisticated and refined vessels of Reid Ozaki as well as one of Rick Mahaffey’s wide-shouldered, rustic, wood-fired pots. Matt Allison, meanwhile, presents a set of unglazed forms that are inspired by the Western landscape such as Wyoming’s Devil’s Tower.
Retired faculty member Frank Dippolito is an accomplished painter who is still hard at work. On display are a set of canvases from a series inspired by the visually fascinating world found in a local auto shop. Tonally Dippolito ranges from the murky to the luminous. His style is sometimes quick and sketchy as in “Shop Still Life” where the dollies, gas bottles and shop equipment are depicted in spontaneous strokes of the brush. In other works such as “Easy Chair,” however, Dippolito carefully depicts an empty chair outside the shop door and makes it into an object of sublime meditation. The constantly shifting clutter of tools and equipment within the shop are fodder for impromptu still lifes and interior scenes.
Marit Berg’s contribution to the show is a series of wonderful etchings in which portraits of Native Americans (based on the historic photographs of Edward Curtis) are juxtaposed with the simple, geometric symbols of highway road signs. Clear, clean and concise, the yellow and black prints embody poetic layers of meaning touching on themes of governmental control of the Western landscape including the location of the native peoples that populate that landscape.
Drawing teacher Melinda Liebers Cox has a single color pencil drawing called “Obverse.” It is an eerie self-portrait with red-eyed mice crawling on Liebers Cox’s shoulders and head. She holds up a computer mouse so that the red light on its underside makes a visual connection with the red eyes of the other mice. Elsewhere in the gallery is a set of paintings by Liebers Cox. These are brightly colored and hard-edged studies of Persian rugs and animals. Her “Country Boy” is a close up of a rooster in which the bird’s eye gazes like the Eye of Providence from the wrinkled red flesh of the rooster’s head.
Sculpture instructor Kyle Dillehay’s “Tree of Life” is an installation composted of sections and branches from a big cedar tree that he recently cut down. The massive limbs lean against the walls like the tusks of a wooly mammoth. The tree’s fragrance fills the gallery. Dillehay asserts that he wants to pay homage to a tree that he thought prudent to destroy. The installation, however, reminds one of the heads of wild animals that hang in the parlor of a big game hunter as a peculiar homage to creatures that are admired to death.
Alice Di Certo, meanwhile, has a wonderful bronze sculpture of a baby’s feet and a book mounted on the wall above pile of used nursing pads. Elsewhere there are a series of marvelous black and white photos of Di Certo’s close friends. These are clustered on the wall and are surrounded by smaller, color photos of people related to De Certo’s friends. Pushpins and red threads show the complex web of relationships linking all these people together. While the concept of the installation is interesting, the presentation comes across as a school kid’s science project.
There is plenty in this show well worth seeing so stop by and have a look. For further information visit www.tacomacc.edu/campuslife/thegallery or call (253) 460-4306.