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Tacoma Art Museum Presents Sparkle Then Fade
Claude Zervas, Forest 3.5, 2005. Digital projection, dimensions variable. Tacoma Art Museum , Purchased with funds from Bill and Ruth True, Josef Vascovitz, and Dawn Zervas.
TACOMA, WA.- The new exhibition Sparkle Then Fade, conceived and organized by Tacoma Art Museum ’s Director of Curatorial Administration and Curator of Contemporary and Northwest Art Rock Hushka , explores the ways in which contemporary artists use reflected light as a metaphor for the complexities of life. With media such as mirrors, resin, Mylar, and plastics, these artists utilize the power of light to attract attention and mesmerize. Approximately twenty-five works, including photography, painting, video, sculpture, and installation pieces, will be included. The exhibition opens at Tacoma Art Museum Thursday, May 17, and will be on view through September 3, 2007.

In the exhibition, the ephemeral qualities of light symbolize the ever-changing aspects of life: the fleeting nature of time, beauty, and memory. Viewers are compelled to ask themselves, “What is beautiful? What is precious? What is permanent? What is pleasurable? What do we remember?” It offers provocative commentary on celebrity and power, the promises of consumer culture, the persistence of racism, and the personal sense of self.

“This exhibition provides an intense visual experience,” said Hushka. “Each work was selected to generate a visceral reaction, from exuberance to anxiety, and from melancholy to contemplation of the fragility of life.” Sparkle Then Fade introduces the similarities between these artists while highlighting their differences.

One of the themes of the exhibition explores the idea of celebrity and fame. The gallery will be populated by selected celebrity images of Kurt Cobain (the legendary lead singer of Seattle-based band Nirvana) by Seattle photographer Alice Wheeler and a promotional campaign by for United We Stand, a non-existent film starring Penelope Cruz and Ewan McGregor. The Myths by Andy Warhol feature Uncle Sam, Santa Claus, and Howdy Doody, each with a patina of diamond dust. Each of Warhol’s characters pinpoints the changing nature of the American psyche.

A central theme is self-perception. Works by Marilyn Minter, Kathryn van Dyke, and Josiah McElehny, and assume vivid astro focus examine the fleeting nature of identity and pleasure. Minter twines desire and sexuality in her stunning images of jewelry and designer shoes. McElehny and van Dyke both employ mirrors to fragment reflections and destabilize a sense of solidity and unity. Installations by Alex Schweder and Monique van Genderen also reflect a sense of self-perception through color and movement. The sculpture Anywhere But Here by Jack Daws uses the metaphor of found pharmaceuticals as a commentary on American culture’s growing use of medication to mitigate society’s complexities and contradictions. The painting of Gift-Wrapped Doll #14 by James Rosenquist captures the fascination with new and perfect consumer goods.

A giant inflatable flower by Jeff Koons, a deer encrusted in Swarovski crystals by Marc Swanson, a pixilated image of a Northwest forest by Claude Zervas, and Anya Gallacio’s delicate recreation of a small tree all serve as reminders about the fragility and artificial constructions that define the human interaction with the natural world. The idea of the ephemeral qualities of memory are highlighted by a large, knitted Mylar sculpture by Oliver Herring and the exquisite light sculpture by Jim Hodges. Working on minimalist impulses, both Herring and Hodges use light to suggest loss and memory.

Issues of race and justice are explored by Glenn Ligon and Donald Moffett. Ligon’s coal-dust painting references the experience of an African American, while the series What Barbara Jordan Wore is Moffett’s tender homage to many contributions of the distinguished politician and civil rights leader.

“The compelling themes in Sparkle Then Fade have inspired some of the most nationally recognized artists from across the country just as they have with artists in the Northwest,” said Tacoma Art Museum Director Stephanie Stebich. “We embrace this opportunity to again showcase regional work as it relates to the world stage.”

Sparkle Then Fade is generously supported by Click! Network, Tacoma Power.

Tacoma Art Museum connects people and builds community through art. The museum serves the diverse communities of the region through its collection, exhibitions, and learning programs, emphasizing art and artists from the Northwest. The museum’s five galleries display an array of top national shows, the best of Northwest art, creatively themed exhibitions, and historical retrospectives. In addition, there is an Education Wing for children, adults, and seniors with an art resource center, classroom, and studio for art making. Tacoma Art Museum is located in Tacoma ’s Museum District, near the Museum of Glass , the Washington State History Museum , and historic Union Station.

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