Three exhibits at TMCC
Some of the most intriguing artwork coming through town has landed in Truckee Meadows Community College’s three exhibition spaces. This month features a dynamic lineup of drawings by a South Lake Tahoe art teacher, wall pieces by a California sculptor and a print exchange started in Idaho.
If it were possible to genetically combine a scale model of a bridge with modernist outdoor sculpture and a slick, custom-made display rack from an upscale-department-store, the offspring would be Dean DeCocker’s sculpture series, South of Tawara. Two-D conventions (drafting, surface decoration) and 3-D materials (metal, Plexiglass) unite for a play date in the TMCC Main Gallery. Black metal rods make up delicately industrial support structures that hold rows of transparent shapes or piles of glossy discs several inches from the wall. Neatness counts in DeCocker’s world, but the nearly obsessive, architectural precision of his arrangements is lightened with a sprinkling of polka dots. It’s the kind of art that’s hard not to touch. If it were larger, it would be hard not to climb on it.
In the third-floor hallway’s Red Mountain Print Gallery, a lot of information is left out of Alison Harris’ spare pencil drawings. That brings the remaining content—women in underwear—into sharper focus. The artist, struck by how unreal the models in Victoria’s Secret ads looked, let her models decide how to pose and what to wear. She included just a few elements in each frame: woman, underwear, chair, the occasional glass of wine. Often, drawings of nudes practically come with instructions, visual cues that let us know we’re looking at either idealized “artistic” bodies or the more political, unidealized bodies. Harris doesn’t make it so easy. Her models range in age and body type, and some of them are more comfortable sitting around barely clothed than others. The underwear varies from cowgirl-frilly to school-marm support briefs and all the way to the Victoria’s-Secret-approved crotchless panty. But, in a refreshing twist on the usual, the cues here are mixed up. Harris says the almost-nude models are even more revealing than nudes, and she’s right. Each woman appears on her own terms. Each gets to assert her individuality and to be as sexy or as not sexy as she wants, making these drawings exactly the anti-advertising they aim to be.
In the Photo/Print Gallery, also in a hallway, the Tuber Manifesto gives some quietly dazzling examples of what is delightful about printmaking (and potatoes). TMCC printmaking teacher Candace Nicols, who is also a graduate student at Boise State University, teamed with fellow student Megan Jensen to organize a print exchange. They asked 24 artists to respond (literally or loosely) to the title—a reference to Idaho’s legendary agricultural staple—and make a series of 24 prints. One set was distributed to each artist, and several sets have been exhibited in venues around the country. The series surveys techniques from 19th century photographic processes to digital ink jets. Details like money-green, lace-embossed textures and the dry humor in a sumptuous picture of aging, wrinkled spuds showcase some of printmaking’s most appealing traits.
The TMCC gallery committee advertises nationally for exhibit proposals and sorts through about 90 of them a year. Their efforts are paying off; the community college up on the hill is becoming one of Reno’s main resources for keeping an informed eye on what’s going on outside the Great Basin.