Published on November 28th, 2012 | by Kate Albert Ward


At Home with Art

The City of Tacoma has celebrated Art at Work month every November for the past eleven years by encouraging conversations about art, awarding those who foster the art community, organizing studio tours, and highlighting the many opportunities we have to see art throughout our city.

As we wrap up Art at Work month and head deeper into the season of hearth and home, I find myself thinking about the art hung in our own houses, shared almost exclusively with family and friends. Our homes by nature are private, yet we engage with the larger art community when put up an artwork by a local artist. We make a statement of connection to that artist, that we want his/her art in our everyday life, side-by-side our family photos. The artist puts something of him/herself into the object, and through our display, we borrow that expression for ourselves. Through this, we establish a bond with local artists that goes beyond monetary support, a key goal of “art at work.”

Jessica Spring and Chandler O’Leary’s Prop Cake in the home of Peter Stanley and Liz Kaster.

Thanks to the Tacoma Spaceworks Cakewalk, I had a unique window into the process of art leaving the hands of the artist and embedding itself into our daily lives. Spaceworks’ lively fundraiser featured both a cakewalk and an art walk, giving attendees the opportunity to win cakes and original works of art.

Cakes long-ago consumed and art now perfectly positioned, I followed up with a few of the art winners, who graciously invited me into their homes to take a peek at their new acquisitions.

Patty Nulph and Frank Terrill

The first home I visited was that of lifelong Tacomans Patty Nulph and Frank Terrill. Nulph, a jewelry artist whose design studio, Folk Art International (FAI), is located on Proctor, had donated to the event, but had no expectations of coming away with a work of art to call her own.

“As someone who never wins anything, I couldn’t believe we won! We had lucky number seven and it was Frank’s birthday – I thought maybe it was rigged. It was a hoot!”

Nulph and Terrill chose Lisa Kinoshita’s Virgin, originally shown in the exhibition Chastity Belts by Artists at the now-closed Mineral Art Gallery. An admirer of Kinoshita, Nulph was thrilled to win Virgin and emailed pictures of her prize to friends and family around the world. Virgin hangs from the side of Nulph and Terrill’s refrigerator, a spot that was only meant to be temporary, but they came to appreciate the dialogue created by its proximity to the kitchen.

The outline of a female form in steel with eggs suspended in the pelvis region, Virgin activates a critical perspective on the historical locus of female domesticity. A hammer hanging among the fragile eggs characterizes intercourse as violent and threatening to a woman who has been told that her value directly correlates to her purity and her ability to bear children. This view of women’s sexuality is intended to correspond to traditional beliefs about a woman’s role in the household. This pairing calls attention to the relationship between women taking control of their reproductive rights and gaining greater freedom to pursue opportunities outside of the home.

Nulph and Terrill have developed a keen eye and style, creating a cohesive collection with works that are primarily in muted earth tones, many made of organic materials. They’ve curated their home with an eclectic array of objects, including masks, vessels, sculptures, and religious icons. In addition to travelling extensively and working in the international art market, Nulph and Terrill have also acquired fascinating historical and contemporary local art objects.

Terrill, who is the senior plans examiner for the City of Tacoma, also made a number of the artworks in their home as studies for his practice as an art conservator. Before repairing an object, such as a Native American mask for a museum or gallery, Terrill would make a new mask using traditional tools, materials, and techniques in order to better understand the best course of action.

Kinoshita’s work is unlike anything else that Nulph and Terrill have on display in their home, most of which do not make such overt social statements, yet it fits into their collection. Kinoshita’s Virgin has clearly found a wonderful home, where it is deeply appreciated by its caretakers.

Bernadette Ray

An employee of the Tacoma Public School District, Bernadette Ray, heard about the Spaceworks Cakewalk through her friend Anne Jones, a local realtor who Ray says “always knows the cool things to do.”

The promise of cake, art, good people, and a good cause made Ray an enthusiastic attendee. Feeling lucky, Ray was excited but not truly surprised when she won “Take the Cake,” a one-time opportunity during the evening to win a work of art and a cake at the same time.

Ray won a plum and gray cake stand by glass artist Diane Hansen, atop of which sat a delectable cake from Corina Bakery.

The cake stand is now prominently featured on an antique piano in Ray’s home. The salvaged piano, found street-side, sits next to her dining room table. Ray points out, “When I am ready to display something beautifully, there it is! The cake stand is very large for my small home, but I think the piano, ‘my mantel,’ is the perfect place for this piece of art.”

Not very familiar with the Spaceworks program before the Cakewalk, Ray was impressed with the diversity in ages and ethnicities represented at the event. She looks forward to learning more about Spaceworks and all the program does in our community.

“What better way to use some of the wacky and wonderful spaces in Tacoma!”

Liz Kaster and Peter Stanley

Peter Stanley and Liz Kaster were some of the blessed few to win multiple works of art over the course of the evening. Collectively, the couple was fortunate enough to use their winning numbers to select three different artworks.

Visitors to Stanley and Kaster’s hundred-year-old craftsman house first encounter Sean Alexander’s Snake Drawing as they enter the front door. The coiled snake, emblazoned with detailed patterns in black and white, cooly greets guests from its spot above the couch.

Presiding over the adjacent dining room is a broadside from Chandler O’Leary and Jessica Spring’s Dead Feminists series. The print, called Prop Cake, quotes American suffragist Alice Paul, reminding diners, “There is nothing complicated about ordinary equality.” A fan of O’Leary and Spring, the broadside was a happy addition to the prints Kaster already owns by the dynamic duo.

Detail of Pool I by Elise Richman from the Spaceworks blog.

Kaster and Stanley’s third conquest, Elise Richman’s Pool I, is tucked away in the upstairs hallway. Encouraged by the narrow surroundings, the viewer scoot closer and examine the intricate textures of Richman’s painting. Richman teaches at the University of Puget Sound where Stanley and Kaster met, lending the painting an additional layer of personal sentiment.

When asked what drew them to the Spaceworks fundraiser, Kaster replied:

Spaceworks represents the best of Tacoma. It’s such an easy thing to support. A win-win-win-win situation for local artists, the city, property owners and the community as a whole. When you throw in cake and the chance to win art by our favorite local artists?  We’re in.

Kaster and Stanley expressed gratitude for all the effort spent by donors and organizers to pull off the carnavalesque fundraiser and eager anticipation for next year’s fundraiser.

Katy Evans

We all knew that Post Defiance editor and writer Katy Evans was a winner, but the Spaceworks Cakewalk and Art at Work month have proclaimed it loud and clear. Fresh from winning two works of art at the fundraiser, Evans was honored earlier this month with the City of Tacoma’s Amocat Award for her contributions to the arts community. Among her many projects, Evans serves on the Spaceworks Steering Committee.

Perched on top of the cabinet where Evans displays her Amocat Award – which just so happens to be a Bella Ball co-created by the aforementioned Diane Hansen – is the horse sculpture by Jennifer Adams that Evans won during the Artwalk.

Though Evans already has a burgeoning collection of work by local artists, this is Evans’ first work of art by Adams, her longtime friend. The equine sculpture bears relationship to Adams’ current installation, Equus Cirrus, in the Woolworth building that will be on view for only a few more weeks. But the masking tape pony offers a surprise unavailable to window-watchers: when picked up, a rattle inside the horse mimics the sound of hooves clopping.

In the same room, Evans has hung the drawing in knots ? she won by Meghan Mitchell. The soft tangle of pink threads on a delicate nest of lines emerges from the dark walls that offset Evans’ art collection.

Mitchell’s work first caught Evans’ eye at Fulcrum Gallery’s Dawn of 2012 show, where her enigmatic graphite and watercolor illustrations stood out, despite their small size and subtlety.

I’ve been waiting to snatch up one of Meghan’s pieces – I think she’s hugely talented and I love her perspective and style. I had already racked up an impressive amount of losses at Cakewalk, and it was on my very last tickets that I actually ended up winning. I feel incredibly lucky to have both Meghan and Jennifer’s pieces in the same room, and can’t wait to add even more Tacomans to the walls.

Evans advocates for buying local (check out the Cash Mobs she organizes if you haven’t already) and supporting the artists who contribute so much to our community. This season, consider shopping like Evans, who is aptly nicknamed the Holiday Hero. Evans currently has a holiday gift guide in the works for Post Defiance, but the information below must suffice until then.

Bring Home Some Art This Week

In addition to more stable options for art buying, such as stopping by Patty Nulph’s design studio FAI, the Museum of Glass to snag jewelry by Lisa Kinoshita, or Bella Balls for a glass float, this holiday season also offers some pop-up opportunities for expanding/starting your art collection or that of your family and friends.

Tacoma Makes: Prints
Tacoma-inspired images by a variety of artists provide something for everyone. Prints from the Tacoma Makes playing card deck are on view at Amocat Cafe through Friday.
Amocat Cafe
625 St. Helens Ave.

Beautiful Angle Holiday Party and Show Opening:
This year’s poster sale party will celebrate Beautiful Angle’s ten year anniversary, as well as launch their exhibition The Mystery/Myth Folio. Proceeds from poster sales will benefit Campus MLK.
Fulcrum Gallery
1308 Martin Luther King Jr. Way
Friday, November 30 at 7 pm

Glitter Haus – A Handmade Holiday Affair
Find locally-made art, crafts, and gourmet foods at this festive event.
1104 N. Steele Street
Saturday, December 1, between 11 am and 3 pm.

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About the Author

A writer for Post Defiance, Kate has done freelance writing for the Museum of Glass, The South Sound User's Guide, and 19th-Century European Paintings at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Kate’s previous experience includes working as the Kress Foundation Interpretive Fellow at the Portland Art Museum, and as an Adjunct Assistant Professor for Portland State University. Kate currently works at Hilltop Artists, a youth development program that uses glass arts to connect young people from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds to better futures.

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