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Visual Edge: Good humor in the Woolworth Windows

Jennifer Zwick, Rachael Dotson, Beth Johnson and Wayzgoose prints behind glass

Rachel Dotson's untitled work is on display at the Woolworth Windows. Photo by Heather Joy

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Spring has sprung and it is now possible to enjoy the installations in the Woolworth Windows without standing in the cold and rain. And the current installation is filled with good humor and well-executed artwork.

Jennifer Zwick, an artist with attitude, says, "As though life weren't anxious enough, we're expected to get out of bed every single morning." And her art, "Bed Dress" currently on display in the Woolworth Windows, addresses that question with sharp humor with what appears to be a beaver in a wedding dress standing up in a bed on casters ready to roll away without having to bother with actually moving." Funny stuff, nicely executed. What's even nicer are some of the inventive installations pictured on her website at, which unfortunately I have not seen in situ.

Rachael Dotson's untitled graphic works fill one set of windows with figures dressed in blue with their heads in the clouds. They are nicely drawn and, to me, reminiscent of Andy Warhol's early graphic work. Plus, and this is sort of critical: Dotson's windows represent pretty much the only true installation in the building. There's a critical difference between an installation and an exhibition. An exhibition may fill a space nicely (as does, for instance a four-by-six foot painting over a couch), but the emphasis is on the individual work or works of art and not on the way in which they work together to form a whole, which relates thematically or visually to the space.

The Wayzgoose prints are an exhibition, not an installation. Selections from Wayzgoose fill large parts of the windows and are definitely worthy of careful scrutiny. Wayzgoose is one of Tacoma's most popular art festivals, a printmaking and book arts showcase named after a medieval guild celebration. This installation showcases giant linoleum prints produced by steamroller during the ninth annual Wayzgoose. Featured are prints by: Stadium High School Printmaking, Maggie Roberts, Audra Laymon, Beautiful Angle, Chris Sharp, CLAW, Ric Matthies, Chandler O'Leary & Jessica Spring, Charles Wright Academy Printmaking, and Pacific Lutheran University Printmaking.

The Wayzgoose installation is presented as a showcase without identification of individual artists. They are fun, funky and well executed. One of my favorites is a version of Botticelli's "Birth of Venus" with the beauty on the halfshell posed in front of Tacoma's waterfront in black and white with orange hair and orange flowers blowing in the wind.

Also fun and funky are Beth Johnson's papier mache dragons. They are large and humorously scary. Her "Red Dragon" won Best of Show in the 2011 National Arts Program exhibit. Seen in the Woolworth Windows, it a long-snouted dragon head mounted like a taxidermy trophy.

WOOLWORTH WINDOWS, through August 2013, Broadway at 11th and Commerce, Tacoma

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