Local Artists Shine in TAM Exhibit

Since 1940, the Tacoma Art Museum has featured somewhat-regular exhibits of artwork by contemporary Northwest artists. The name and frequency of these exhibits have changed over the years, and this year’s showcase is no exception.

"Orca Pod" and "Holy Water" by Karen Hackenberg are displayed as part of the NW Art Now exhibit at the Tacoma Art Museum. Hackenberg composes her paintings by gathering objects she finds on the beach near her Port Townsend studio to provoke awareness about ocen degradation, plastic decomposition, and global climate change. (Photo by Joanna Kresge)

“Orca Pod” and “Holy Water” by Karen Hackenberg are displayed as part of the NW Art Now exhibit at the Tacoma Art Museum. Hackenberg composes her paintings by gathering objects she finds on the beach near her Port Townsend studio to provoke awareness about ocean degradation, plastic decomposition, and global climate change. (Photo by Joanna Kresge)

NW Art Now is TAM’s most recent exhibit featuring 47 varied works by 24 regional artists, including five Tacoma natives. The works cover a spectrum of media including: photography, paint, video, light, yarn, fabric, music, and wood.

This year nearly 300 artists responded to TAM’s open call for submissions. Each artist was asked to supply digital images of their work and a written statement about each piece to a juried selection committee. Rock Hushka, TAM’s Chief Curator and Curator of Contemporary and Northwest Art, along with Juan Roselione-Valadez, Director of the Rubell Family Collection, Contemporary Arts Foundation in Miami narrowed the list down to just 30 artists. The list was further tightened through studio visits and conference calls.

What is unique about the NW Art Now exhibit is that the collection can be found throughout the museum according to Stephanie Stebich, Executive Director at TAM.

Boise artist Lily Martina Lee uses news reports and legal documents to find interesting tattoo descriptions, she then paints these symbols on the hood of the same type of car the subject had driven. This depiction is titled "Jimmy Bam Bam Rodriguest, Pasco, Washington (Escape from custody)". (Photo by Joanna Kresge)

Boise artist Lilly Martina Lee uses news reports and legal documents to find interesting tattoo descriptions, she then paints these symbols on the hood of the same type of car the subject had driven. This depiction is titled “Jimmy Bam Bam Rodriguez, Pasco, Washington (Escape from custody)”. (Photo by Joanna Kresge)

“Once again Rock and his co-curator have been bolder in their building interventions, things that are outside the gallery, things that you would typically find in public spaces, entry spaces,” Stebich said.

Patrons will begin seeing pieces of the exhibit as soon as they drive past TAM along Pacific Avenue where they can catch a glimpse of Dylan Neuwirth’s neon Just Be Your Selfie banner, formerly displayed in Seattle’s Pioneer Square. Once patrons enter the parking garage they are greeted by a large sign proclaiming “NO DOGS”. This isn’t necessarily reflective of the museum’s animal policy, rather it is the artwork of Portland-based artist, Brad Adkins.

Passing from the parking structure, into the museum’s vestibule, patrons are greeted with peaceful music as they walk through a corridor lined with sheet music while a steady stream of cars on Interstate 705 are projected onto a nearby wall. Upon closer examination the viewer may notice that the music coincides with the passing of the cars, this is no coincidence, it is Lou Watson’s aptly-named Section of the I-705, on a Wednesday, for Electric Piano. 

"Accounting for Public Intrest" by Portland-based duo, Guestwork, encourages Tacoma Art Museum patrons to interact with the art by casting a "ballot" to gage the public's opinion on social, political, and economic challenges in the city of Tacoma. (Photo by Joanna Kresge)

“Accounting for Public Intrest” by Portland-based duo, Guestwork, encourages Tacoma Art Museum patrons to interact with the art by casting a “ballot” to gage the public’s opinion on social, political, and economic challenges in the city of Tacoma. (Photo by Joanna Kresge)

Outside NW Art Now’s main gallery, patrons will get the opportunity to interact with the art through Accounting for Public Interest by Guestwork, a creative team consisting of Travis Neel and Erin Charprntier. Patrons may elect to grab a ‘ballot’ and head into the election booths where they will find pencils and a survey pertaining to the future of Tacoma. Survey responses from engaged patrons surrounding social, political, and economic challenges will be posted in the final month of the exhibition.

“Given that it is an election season, I think the election booth by Guestwork–a Portland collaboration–reminds us the importance of voting,” Stebich said. “It is a very local vote (which is) sort of talking about the future of Tacoma which I appreciate.”

NW Art Now is open now through September 4th, check out TAM’s website for hours and ticket prices.

This year’s artists include:

Humaira Abid, Renton, Washington
Brad Adkins, Portland, Oregon
Juventino Aranda, Walla Walla, Washington
Oliver Doriss, Tacoma, Washington
Ka’ila Farrell-Smith, Portland, Oregon
Ben Gannon, Seattle, Washington
Dakota Gearhart, Seattle, Washington
Guestwork, Portland, Oregon
Karen Hackenberg, Port Townsend, Washington
C. Davida Ingram, Seattle, Washington
Eirik Johnson, Seattle, Washington
Christopher Paul Jordan, Tacoma, Washington
Paul Komada, Seattle, Washington
Lily Martina Lee, Boise, Idaho
Jeremy Mangan, Tacoma, Washington
Amanda Manitach, Seattle, Washington
Dylan Neuwirth, Seattle, Washington
SuttonBeresCuller, Seattle, Washington
Asia Tail, Tacoma, Washington
Rodrigo Valenzuela, Seattle, Washington
Joey Veltkamp, Seattle, Washington
Jamie Marie Waelchli, Tacoma, Washington
Lou Watson, Portland, Oregon
Robert Yoder, Seattle, Washington

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is an assistant editor at South Sound magazine. Email her.
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