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Tacoma Art Museum Announces the 9th Northwest Biennial Participants

TACOMA, WA.- Tacoma Art Museum has announced the artists selected to participate in the 9th Northwest Biennial, which will be on view from January 31 through May 25, 2009. Rock Hushka, Director of Curatorial Administration and Curator of Contemporary and Northwest Art for Tacoma Art Museum, and Alison de Lima Greene, Curator of Contemporary Art and Special Projects at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, selected 24 artists from the 543 entries. The exhibition will be accompanied by a full-color, 108-page exhibition catalogue.

Artists working in a wide variety of media, including traditional forms, craft-based work, and digital projects were encouraged to apply, as well as artists exploring alternative visual forms such as conceptual and performance works and installations. Application was open to current residents of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. The regional breakdown for entries was 358 from Washington (203 from Seattle), 155 from Oregon (123 from Portland), 20 from Idaho, and 10 from Montana. Only work created since January 2007 was considered.

Greene and Hushka reviewed digital submissions over the course of two days and selected a short list of 36 artists for studio visits. During the two-week period when the curators met the artists in their studios, the curators sought to confirm their opinions and judgments based on the digital images. The curators also identified the critical themes that would anchor the exhibition and catalogue essays. After weeks of discussion, Greene and Hushka selected the following 24 artists for the exhibition:

Rick Araluce, Seattle, Gala Bent, Seattle, Michael Brophy, Portland, Jack Daws, Seattle, Eric Elliott, Seattle, Tannaz Farsi, Eugene, Sarah Hood, Seattle, Denzil Hurley, Seattle, Linda Hutchins, Portland, Robert Jones, Seattle, Michael Kenna, Seattle, Doug Keyes, Seattle, Isaac Layman, Seattle, Zhi Lin, Sammamish, Micki Lippe, Seattle, Margie Livingston, Seattle, Victor Maldonado, Portland, Debora Moore, Seattle, Susan Robb, Seattle, Stephanie Robison, Portland, Ross Sawyers, Seattle, Susan Seubert, Portland, Chang-Ae Song, Eugene Scott Trimble, Seattle.

The 9th Northwest Biennial will focus on the current aesthetic and conceptual concerns addressed by these artists. It is structured to prompt dialogue about the Northwest's artistic strengths, trends, and the potential of Northwest art and artists. "Northwest artists adapt and shed ideas, media, and imagery to define themselves as artists while reinventing or restating the core notion of a Northwest artist," wrote Hushka in the call to artists. “Because the concept of 'regional art' continually collapses and rebuilds, the subtle shifts in the imagery, stylistic impulses, and conceptual foundations reveal how the region’s artist community participates in the broad dialogue of contemporary art."

"It has been a huge privilege to help shape this year's Tacoma Art Museum biennial," states co-curator Alison de Lima Greene. "We were enormously lucky to have a remarkable response from area artists, and I am profoundly grateful to everyone who submitted their work for review. Out of the many possibilities offered us, Rock and I chose to focus the exhibition on a tight selection of artists whose work addresses not only a sense of place and identity, but also the larger issues raised by our rapidly changing landscape and worldview."

"The goal of the biennial is to revisit the accomplishments and developments of Northwest artists. Of the numerous themes and ideas that Alison and I found during this process, one of the most consistent was the effort by artists to express multiple viewpoints or focal points simultaneously. We learned that this impulse should be understood as equal parts expansion of formal approaches to art making and a synthesis of political awareness and personal expression," explained Hushka.

The 9th Northwest Biennial began with an online submission process using the CaFÉ (Call for Entry) application service. This is the first year Tacoma Art Museum utilized an online submission process. All applications were required to be posted to the CaFÉ Web site and include a resume listing exhibition history, publications and reviews, and gallery representation, if any; an artist statement of no more than 500 words; and eight digital images formatted according to CaFÉ’s requirements.

Tacoma Art Museum's biennial remains the only Northwest project of its size and scope. The museum began its biennial tradition in 1991with Collaborators: Regional Juried Exhibition, juried by the internationally acclaimed artists Felix Partz and AA Bronson of General Idea. Under the guidance of Tacoma Art Museum's former Curator of Modern Art Greg Bell, the museum continued to present thematic biennials juried by nationally prominent artists. In 2007, the museum restructured the biennial to focus on artistic achievement and stylistic developments in the Northwest as identified by nationally prominent curators working collaboratively with Hushka.

Alison de Lima Greene is Curator of Contemporary Art and Special Projects at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, where she has been on the curatorial staff since 1984. Before moving to Texas, Greene worked in the department of European Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She earned a master's degree in art history from New York University's Institute of Fine Arts. Among the numerous exhibitions she has organized are Czech Modernism: 1900-1945; Arman: A Retrospective; Twentieth-Century American Sculpture at the White House; and a survey of Kenneth Noland paintings. Her publications include Texas: 150 Works from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, a collection catalogue profiling the museum's Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden designed by Isamu Noguchi, and a survey of the MFAH's 25-year Core Program for resident artists and writers.

Rock Hushka is Curator of Contemporary and Northwest Art at Tacoma Art Museum. In 1994, Hushka earned a master of arts degree in art history from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He worked at the Henry Art Gallery and the Seattle Art Museum and has worked at Tacoma Art Museum since 2001. At Tacoma Art Museum, he has curated Sparkle Then Fade and The New York School: The Politics of Abstraction. He has increasingly focused on the art of the Northwest, including the four-part Building Tradition: Gifts in Honor of the Northwest Collection; A Decade of Excellence: Celebrating The Neddy Artist Fellowship; and The Romantic Vision of Michael Brophy. He was a co-juror for the 8th Northwest Biennial in 2007.

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