Published on September 22nd, 2014 | by Nicole Bivins1
Mod Curio and Moss + Mineral make a neighborhood of art
In the arts walk tradition of creative communities worldwide, Tacoma’s Third Thursday brings together a diverse and enthusiastic group of art practitioners, consumers, and admirers.
I’ve attended my fair share of First Fridays, Second Saturdays, and the like, but never before have I felt so engaged and welcomed the moment I set foot on the block. That block is the Market Street to St. Helens segment of downtown Tacoma’s South 9th Street, home to the recently opened Mod Curio and its two-doors-away neighbor Moss + Mineral.
Mod Curio‘s tagline is “a gallery of modern curiosities.” True to its word, each of the pieces on display has something curious and fascinating about it; something that begs for a closer look. Small in square footage, but big in charm, the shop is a modern-day curio cabinet.
Owners Jon and Heather Almeda took over the storefront through Spaceworks Tacoma only a few months ago. They’ve since created a gleaming gallery and design store that doubles as a space to meet clients for their photography business One Love Photo. Examples of their gorgeous event photos and Heather’s black and white art photography are prominent focal points among the objects on display.
Co-owner Jon Almeda’s Curio Pots are perfect miniatures of larger traditional forms, made–impossibly–on a standard-size pottery wheel. Yet nested into the display is the demonstration video, proving the possibility. I watched the loop four times, hypnotized by the intricate process that appears so effortless.
Alongside the miniature pots was a display of miniature bronze animal figures by artist Goody B. Wiseman. Two of the objects are figures-in-full: human-like bears in relaxed poses. The others are partial figures: seal heads that seem to be popping out of the surface of the glass table, bear legs that imply the small figure diving below.
Two of Jon Almeda’s other collections are grounded in a concept that has gone from “fad” to “fundamental” in recent years: reuse and upcycling.
The “Mod Radios” are antique objects: globes, suitcases, cameras, but primarily radios, retrofitted with state-of-the-art sound systems and mp3 player compatibility. But the old electronics are not simply discarded, according to the artist’s statement. They too are removed for upcycling. The radios fulfill the need for high quality sound, and the nostalgic desire for a vintage cool item.
Almeda’s “Cardboard and Glue” work features intricate guitar replicas made from cardboard boxes–many of which were plucked straight from the dumpster of Guitar Center. Rich in detail, the pieces are life-size and incorporate the existing print from the cardboard into the design.
A few doors down, Moss + Mineral uses a similar floor plan in a very unique way.
In contrast to Mod Curio’s clean, gallery-esque white and pedestals, Moss + Mineral has the feel of a beautifully-designed, yet rustic, mid-century cabin. Natural unfinished woods, metal patina, and living plants define the space, and art and repurposed vintage objects cover the surfaces and hide around corners.
Lisa Kinoshita, owner of Moss + Mineral and nationally recognized artist, is definitely having a moment in Tacoma. The exhibition she curated at the W.W. Seymour Conservatory, Ethnobotany: An Artists Study of Plant, debuted earlier this September to great critical and public reception, and she again engages her discerning curatorial eye for her in-shop show featuring artists Quinn Honan, Kyle Dillehay, and Jeremiah Maddock.
Quinn Honan’s custom metal work was the focal point of the opening, with a large wall sculpture and a table fashioned from a 1963 Chevy flatbed truck. The table, which includes the original rivets and wood character, now displays a border of moss plants that complement the provincial style. It’s the opposite of metropolitan, citified fashion, but would somehow fit right into a chic downtown apartment. Honan was genuinely approachable and excited to talk about his art–a characteristic common to Tacoma artists.
In line with Honan’s work are sculptor Kyle Dillehay’s “vascular pods” made of metal, and harboring a living selection of moss and small plants. Dillehay showed two pieces, neatly nested under the edge of a table–which required us to get on all fours to have a closer look (I happily obliged).
Each sculpture is hand-crafted and one-of-a-kind. In this case, they are situated in a gallery setting and would be well suited for the home, but the artist has also installed them as public art: fixed into tree branches or as an appendage of a rock wall at the shore.
The show’s 2D work from painter Jeremiah Maddock lives somewhere between glyphs and glitches. The mesmeric, repetitive nature of the drawing calls to mind digital artifacting, yet a closer inspection of the details reveals a style closer to the beginning of art than the end. Geometric patterns of an almost tribal fashion are repeated, changed, woven into the larger whole.
Each of the artists’ work speaks with the others without direct reference. Lisa Kinoshita’s thoughtfully curated design and art space brings the three bodies of work together beautifully.
That Mod Curio and Moss + Mineral are mere steps away from one another is good enough reason to visit both. The galleries/shops are testaments to Tacoma’s thriving art scene and are situated in the stylish downtown Theater District. As a participant in Spaceworks Tacoma’s “Vacancy to Vitality” program that matches artists with empty spaces at low- or no-cost, Mod Curio is sure to gain footing alongside more established neighbors like Moss + Mineral.
313 S 9th St
Tacoma, WA 98402
Hours: Thursday-Saturday, 12-6 pm
Moss + Mineral
305 S 9th St
Tacoma, WA 98402
Hours: Thursday-Saturday, 12-5 pm