Best of Tacoma 2010 Editors' Picks: Arts and Entertainment

We chose Jeremy Mangan, Lisa Fruichantie, Northwest Sinfonietta, Gold From Straw and others ...

By Volcano Staff on August 3, 2010

>>> Best Art Exhibit
The Neddy Fellowship, Tacoma Art Museum
This one features some of the best artists in Washington over the past 15 years, starting with the great Michael Spafford, the first Neddy Fellowship winner and including works by Randy Hayes, Juan Alonso, collaborative glass art by Sabrina Knowles and Jenny Pohlman, glass by Benjamin Moore, paintings by Joseph Park and others. The Neddy does not always live up to the hype, but when you put together all of the best from the past 15 years, that’s one helluva show. Best of all, it’s not too late to see it. This show runs through Aug. 22. 1701 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.272.4258 — Alec Clayton

>>> Best Artist
Jeremy Mangan
My pick for best artist this year is my pick for best artist last year: Jeremy Mangan, winner of the prestigious Foundation Award. Here’s what I said about him in last year’s Best Of (slightly revised): Mangan’s technique and inventive imagery are admirable, as is his wide range of styles. His surrealistic paintings of barn-like buildings have a brittle quality and interesting juxtaposition of crowded areas and open spaces, and some of his paintings have a lush photo-realist-pop look that combines with the flat graphic look of his drawing in a strange way that is hypnotic. — AC

>>> Best Seattle Artists Who Sometimes Go Slumming In Tacoma
Troy Gua, Chauney Peck, Julia Haack
Tacomans hate to hear this because it’s an insult to their local pride, but the best Tacoma artists live and work in Seattle. Off the top of my head I can pick three Seattle artists who have had remarkable shows in Tacoma. They are Troy Gua, Chauney Peck and Julia Haack. Peck is originally from Olympia but now lives in Seattle. I first saw her work years ago at the old Commencement Art Gallery and later in a number of coffee shop shows in Oly and at Ice Box Contemporary (now defunct, in the present mineral site). Peck’s work is forever fresh and constantly changing. Haack is a sculptor who does wonderful pieces with strips of old wood in multiple colors creating patterns within patterns that remind me of early Frank Stella paintings. Gua, combines (or more accurately morphs) portraits of various celebrities and historical figures in unique and inventive ways to create “new” creatures such as The Elton John Wayne, a combination of Elton John and John Wayne. How clever can you get? — AC

>>> Best Unsung Hero
Lisa Fruichantie
I’m scared by the amount of crap that Lisa Fruichantie gets done. She has three kids, you know. And a job as senior projectionist at The Grand Cinema. She just wrapped up co-organizing and presenting an amazing installment of the annual Urban Art Festival. I’ve personally seen Fruichantie pull all-nighters while working on three projects, two jobs and caring for a child with more skill and attentiveness than most people with half her workload could manage. She has singlehandedly given more life to the local arts scene than anyone I can think of. She’s my hero. She should be yours too. — Paul Schrag

>>> Best Use Of A Former Porn Theater
Gold From Straw’s production of Doubt
John Patrick Shanley won a Pulitzer Prize for writing Doubt, an intense examination of human weakness and abuse in the Catholic church. It received Tony awards on the stage, and multiple Oscar nominations for acting. It is, as they say, some classy shit. Classy enough to overcome being produced in Tacoma’s one and only porn theater-turned-vacant condo project, the Mecca, by new local company Gold From Straw. At least having unfinished walls and exposed pipes means you don’t have to wonder if they cleaned first, right? — Joe Izenman

>>> Best Solo Show
Lisa Sweet, Devotion and Demonstration, Kittredge Gallery
This was a terrific little show in the small back gallery at University of Puget Sound. Lisa Sweet re-envisions and reinterprets Medieval and early modern Christian iconography in a style borrowed from Jan Van Eyck and the Netherland-ish artists, but uniquely her own. In principle I don’t like appropriation, and I don’t like the idea of contemporary artists borrowing styles from the history of art. But the way Sweet does it is sweet. Her images are comical, mysterious and profound. They relate to history and religion and make sophisticated use of visual puns, and they are skillfully painted. What more can you ask for? — AC

>>> Best Place To Practice Reading Tiny Subtitles
The Grand Cinema
Eyes doctors everywhere are nixing most western medicine theories and prescribing homeopathic remedies for those in ill health. Long gone are the days of outpatient surgery, laser eye treatments and eye drops that burn the red out of your eyes. Now is the time for a new prescription known as: foreign film subtitle reading. Otherwise referred to as subtitus readingenous in the optometry world, subtitle reading for eye correction can evoke numerous positive side effects such as brain stimulation, feelings of being entertained and a heightened sense of film awareness. 606 S. Fawcett Ave., Tacoma, 253.593.4474 — Steph DeRosa

>>> Best Move By A Classical Organization
Northwest Sinfonietta In Puyallup
For classical music fans who want to hear something other than the 12,655th performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony while confined to a stiff seat, the Northwest Sinfonietta now takes their rousing performances of Ravel’s La Valse, Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and Music Director Christophe Chagnard’s world premiere piece, Opre Roma! — with Neil Andersson and Ron Peters on guitar! — to Puyallup’s Pioneer Park pavilion on Sundays. That’s right, every concert this season includes a “casual” performance in Cow Town. How soon before they’re conducting with Krusty Pups? — Michael Swan

>>> Best Reason To Kink Your Neck
Star Chefs On Broadway
The tastiest fundraiser in town by far is Star Chefs on Broadway, the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts’ event that fills the bellies of attendees with scrumptious gourmet eats from area chefs in support of the Center’s performing arts education program. Everyone dresses up in theme, bids on cool shit, enjoys local arts performances and drinks a chef’s weight in booze. But the star attractions are the aerial acts that rappel, jump, pas de deux, and generally do incredibly graceful things while hoisted above the tipsy folks in black tie. It’s a freakin’ blast. — Ron Swarner