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Thursday 06.15.06

« Turner Short List Announced | Main | Don't Forget... »

Tacoma Art Museum Announces the 8th Northwest Biennial


The Tacoma Art Museum has a beautiful building by prize winning architect Antoine Predock and they've been doing more large scale modern/contemporary art shows than either the Portland Art Museum or the Seattle Art Museum for many years now. TAM has also been tackling the Northwest Biennial for several iterations (the last one was juried by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov) but this one promises to be something a little less jumbled since the jurying wont be purely by slides or theme. Instead TAM curator Rock Hushka and Whitney curator David Kiehl will be doing studio visits before any decisions. Thankfully, jpeg entries are allowed and materials need to be postmarked by 7/15/2006, check out all the details here. One notable inclusion is the $25 entry fee (better to have a sponsor and no fee) but I think it is to defray the $500 honorariums they are giving to each of the selected artists.

Hopefully, it will be a coherent survey of some of the strongest work in the Northwest as opposed to the "more art the better" or ADD-ish strategy Ive seen in survey shows lately. I prefer a quality show that highlights the art not the profusion of artists. The last Northwest Biennial had nice work by Portlanders Nan Curtis, Hillary Pfeifer, Horia Boboia and Linda Hutchins but the overall effect of so much work of less than equal quality was numbing.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 15, 2006 at 0:33 | Comments (5)


It is a really great museum, yet when I think "Where can I go to see some great art?" Tacoma for some odd reason never comes to mind. I wonder why that is...hmm.

Posted by: Calvin Carl [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 15, 2006 09:47 AM

I think you are commenting on the permanent collection. TAM has been building it but I'm uncertain how deep it really is (they can only show bits at a time too). I know that PAM and SAM have some very nice things like that Flavin (PAM) or Warhol's Double Elvis (SAM). Those pieces are worth the trip alone.

Part of the issue might be TAM's identity... Tacoma isn't Portland or Seattle but it seeks to be a player. I think that is where this NW biennial is very important. If they put together a really great show they will get a lot of credit from Portlanders and Seattlites, if it's just another big jumble it wont have an impact outside of Tacoma.

In Tacoma's favor though is the fact that they aren't Portland or Seattle and might be able to present a more valid view by cutting through proprietary art politics. Also, it would be nice to include British Columbia in any NW biennial.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 15, 2006 10:27 AM

I definitely agree that this Tacoma's chance to seperate themselves from Portland and especially Seatlle. I guess I just can't get over feeling like Tacoma is still Seattle's dirtier little sibling. It's sad when the only things I associate with Tacoma is the Tacoma Dome and crackheads. :)

Posted by: Calvin Carl [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 15, 2006 11:52 AM

Well there are all those inexplicable traffic delays too... I understand it when Im in LA, not in Tacoma. My favorite association with Tacoma is the bridge that got all wobbly in the wind, the footage was used in some car stereo ads a few years ago. Scary.

Overall Tacoma is making some strides though and that's why this show could matter.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 15, 2006 12:09 PM

Galloping Gurdy! Man, could you imagine being on that bridge when that happened? Talk about a rollercoaster ride. And why is the traffic so bad in Tacoma?

Posted by: Calvin Carl [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 15, 2006 12:15 PM

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