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Tacoma Academy of Fine Art on display

Student show at Tacoma Academy of Fine Art

Corner wall in student show at Tacoma Academy of Fine Art. Photo credit: Gabi Clayton

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Tacoma Academy of Fine Art is a relatively new private art school and gallery founded and operated by Tim Matsen in an art space with a short but storied history - former home to Lisa Kinoshita's cutting-edge Mineral Gallery and later Andrea Erickson's modernist Flow Gallery. But TAFA goes in an opposite direction. Matsen teaches in the classical manner of having students copy old master drawings and paintings and draw and paint from plaster casts of classical figures. His students are adults, many of whom have previously studied art but now find themselves in need of TAFA's style of classical study (he says he soon will be starting classes for teens).

The space on Puyallup Avenue has a small front gallery and a larger studio work space in back. Currently, the front gallery and two walls of the studio space are devoted to works by students with a sprinkling of drawings and paintings by Matsen. There are 19 framed paintings and drawings in the front gallery and another 13 in the studio area, plus a lot of purchased casts that are used in classes and serve as nice decorative elements in the gallery.  

Jason McKissack's "After Rembrandt" is a copy in oil on canvas of a famous Rembrandt self-portrait. Rembrandt painted a staggering number of self-portraits, and an equally staggering number of them look a lot alike. In an online search for the particular one McKissack based his study on, I could not find one with identical clothing and posture, but I found a few that were quite similar.

Peggy Moore's charcoal drawing of Apollo from a plaster cast is a strong image with depth. Her charcoal portrait, "Hanna," has a wonderful feeling of light in the hair and the eyes - light both literally and metaphorically as joy.

Joan Latesta Smith's oil painting, "Gloria," is a striking portrait of a young black woman wearing a red shirt. It is one of the few works in the show that has a contemporary feel.

Christopher Yates' "Cayin" is a pastel drawing of a reclining nude with strong contours that modulates nicely from a heavy black line to a line that fades into the background.

Student Show at Tacoma Academy of Fine Art, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Saturday, through July 21, 14201 A Puyallup Ave., 253.579.6908

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