Visual Edge: 2014 art kick-off

Interesting South Sound art shows scheduled for the New Year

By Alec Clayton on December 31, 2013

Excuse this old reviewer, but there's not much of anything showing this week that I want to review and haven't already, but there are a lot of interesting shows scheduled for early in the year 2014.

The new exhibition that just opened in The Gallery at Tacoma Community College is called "Global Perspectives," and it promised to show how globalization, the Internet and other factors have accelerated the give-and-take between artists from different cultures around the world.

The show runs through March 21, and there will be a panel discussion Jan. 22 from 4-5 p.m.

South Puget Sound Community College opens the New Year with its popular "Annual Fine Art Postcard Exhibit," opening Jan. 13. This year's theme isthe old Olympia Beer slogan, "It's the Water."  As usual, this show promises to be innovative and chock full of humor.

Perhaps most interesting among new shows for the New Year will be a multi-media exhibition at Museum of Glass called "Look! See? The Colors and Letters of Jen Elek and Jeremy Bert," opening Feb. 7 and running through Sept. 21. Elek and Bert are Seattle-area artists who have collaborated to bring this show to MOG. The two of them spent four days after Christmas working together in the museum Hot Shop to create works for this show, which features a variety of glass sculptures combined with approximately 50 large, refurbished neon letters that visitors can touch, rearrange and wear like apparel. That's right, you can touch the art - generally a no-no in any museum. Some of it is wearable art, and visitors are encouraged to try it on.

"Abstract artworks are often considered less accessible than figurative or narrative work, but with "Look! See?" the artists create a hands-on opportunity to engage with conceptual ideas," says Curator David Francis.

Portions of the exhibition were previously shown at the Traver Gallery in Seattle, where Museum of Glass director Susan Warner first saw the work. "It was such a compelling experience that I knew it would resonate with our visitors. Museum of Glass has never been a traditional museum and with this exhibition we continue to engage in larger and more complex conversations about the place of art in daily life," says Warner.

Continuing to step outside the traditional museum box, MOG will also bring to town "Coastal Alchemy," an exhibition of large-scale glass sculpture by Anna Skibska in collaboration with painter Meg Holgate and poet Trenton Flock. This show treats glass sculptures as just one of many collage elements that combine paper, photography, and even shadows on the wall, to create an immersive, abstract environment. Painter Meg Holgate surrounds Skibska's collages with a series of ethereal landscapes and paintings on glass, heightening the abstract quality of her artworks. Poet Trenton Flock contributes "Cannon Beach," a poem that becomes an object in itself, suspended from the ceiling with the pages turned to the side.

It looks like 2014 is starting off with a bang.