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Collaboration transforms 950 Gallery

Minimalist, abstract and site-specific installation by Richman and Nyland

Installation view of part of the Elise Richman and Nicholas Nyland exhibition. Photo courtesy 950 Gallery

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Elise Richman and Nicholas Nyland are ubiquitous presences in Tacoma art spaces, but what they've done together at 950 Gallery is something one has to wonder if either of them could have done alone. Their site-specific and collaborative installation is one large piece of abstract art with individual pieces that are minimalist and abstract, and it resonates with the architectural components of the gallery interior. The gallery website says the installation is a collaboration built on site, but "pieces are included with individual studio work chosen to implicate the spaces of the gallery." There are no labels to identify who did what, and Gallery Director Gabriel Brown said they each worked on each part of the installation together. Still, I suspect there are some individual pieces. Dizzying paintings of multi-colored spirals look too much like Richman's "Ripples" series (see eliserichman.net) not to be one individual's work. And there is one little painting on unprimed burlap-looking canvas that does not relate to or fit with anything else in the gallery. Everything else clearly resonates with the architecture and reflects elements of other parts of the installation -- which is awash with light and with all the colors of the color wheel. The colors in the little painting in question are not as bright as the rest and are more nuanced. Plus, this painting occupies a wall of its own and is the only rectangular piece in the show.

Entering the main gallery, there is a small side room that is often used for video projections. Here, oval shapes and ovals within ovals hang from the ceiling, with colorful video projections and cast shadows -- a harbinger of what is to come, as ovals and squares and light and cast shadows are dominant themes throughout.

To the right as you enter the main gallery, three more ovals in red shading to violet, green and yellow shading to orange hang on the wall. Inside two of these are spiral webs of thread in many colors, and inside the third is a vertical curtain of the same threads. Elsewhere in the gallery a similar but much larger curtain of colorful thread hangs from ceiling to floor with layer after layer of color that change as the viewer walks around it.

On the ceiling, one of the gallery's fluorescent light fixtures has been altered with the addition of rainbow-colored gels that cast light onto the carpet, while in the adjacent 11th Street window, similar gels cast more color patterns onto the floor, which change according to time of day and light conditions.

Two pipes that transverse a corner of the gallery inspired the artists to construct similar pipes in primary colors that go from floor to wall and window and appear to go into and out of the walls. And they painted the actual existing pipes in similar bright colors.

They turned another existing feature, a box structure in a corner of the ceiling, into an upside-down sculpture stand and floral-shaped sculpture upon which rainbow-colored light is projected.

This installation is clever and playful. It looks like the artists had a lot of fun putting it together, and it should brighten your day if you stop by and take it all in.

ENCOMPASS: ELISE RICHMAN AND NICHOLAS NYLAND,1-5 p.m., Thursdays (until 9 p.m. Third Thursday), or by appointment, through April 18, 950 Gallery, 950 Pacific Ave., Suite 205, Tacoma, 253.627.2175, spaceworkstacoma.com/gallery

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