From the Cluttered Closet


“From the Vault” is the current art exhibit at the Washington State University Museum of Art that will be showing until March 31, 2012. It consists of two major donations to the museum’s permanent collection: Andy Warhol photographs and the Safeco collection. 150 polaroids and silver print photographs taken by Andy Warhol were donated by the Andy Warhol Foundation and thirty-nine works of art created by renowned Northwest artists were donated as part of the Safeco Art Collection.

Upon entering the gallery, the eye is immediately drawn to the walls covered in a grid of polaroids all in white wooden frames. These photos, taken by Andy Warhol, are fairly random, ranging from photos of dogs in the park to head shots of people partying. These polaroids seem to be taken casually as compared to professionally. They appear to capture life genuinely and fluidly as if they were taken candidly. A modern equivalent to these pictures would be if Warhol had a facebook, these are the kind of pictures one would expect to see. The sheer number of photos presented in this exhibit is impressive but the quality is not. The only appeal of this aspect of the exhibit is that it came from Andy Warhol. If a less renowned artist put these photos on exhibit it would not gather as much attention.

Continuing on though the gallery one notices numerous glass art pieces, in particular Kylix by Dante Marioni, undated. This piece is a perfectly symmetric egg-shell white chalice with a black trim and black handles that resemble devil’s horns. This piece can be viewed as a statement on religion and the juxtaposition of good and evil. The image of a chalice evokes thoughts about Jesus, the last supper, and the sacrament of Communion. Furthermore, the white color represents purity and holiness. The black devil’s horns throw off the whole idea of holiness and makes it so that good and evil are incorporated into one glass art piece.

Another distinguished art piece was Elephant Child by Catherine Thompson in 1988. It was a large open glass cylinder, about a foot tall and eight inches in diameter. Painted into the glass was a jungle scene with an elephant, alligator, and toucan. The colors were very warm with dark lavender, soft grey, and steely blues.
One of the most viewer-acclaimed pieces was Main Street Viola, ID by Gayle Berd in 1995. Patrons of the museum were captivated by this painting, which was acrylic on canvas. The scene is looking down the main road out of the small town of Viola, ID which is outside of Moscow, Idaho. The colors are a mix of black and white and sepia tones, but what was most enthralling about it was the artist’s mastery of shading to mimic natural lighting. This piece evoked emotions of comfort and solidarity.

There were also some pieces in the exhibit that were very peculiar, such as Girl in Blue Dress with Bird by Kensuke Yomada in 2008. This was a statue, about a foot tall, of an oddly shaped little girl. It was very reminiscent of a lawn ornament due to its size and also very apparent grimey/dirty texture in the crevasses. The girl had huge feet and ankles, perhaps to emphasize a connection to the earth or to say that it should be a lawn ornament.

A truly extraordinary work was by Diem Chua, Girl and Dog from 2008. At first glance, it would appear to be two upright melted crayons about two inches apart from each other. Taking a few steps closer, the viewer is delightfully surprised to realize that a dog is carved into a beige crayon and a girl is carved into the red crayon. The level of detail and precision of carving such a small image is remarkable, and the idea to use crayons as a sculpting material is very creative.

Overall, the exhibit “From the Vault” had many remarkable pieces as well as many slightly ordinary pieces. Taken as a whole however, this exhibit was incoherent. There was not an element that tied all the pieces together in some way: no common theme or message. There were many unrelated kinds of art shown including polaroids, glass, Japanese art, acrylics, ceramics, drawings, lithographs, watercolors, etchings, bronze sculptures, and even crayons. It would appear that there were taken out of the vault randomly, without a uniting factor other than they were all donated to the museum’s permanent collection. In conclusion, while the exhibit features many interesting pieces it lacked a common theme, which left something to be desired for the viewer.



Major: Neuroscience
Expected Graduation Date: May 2013
Hometown: Richland, WA
This was my first review/critique of an art exhibit. I felt that it was important to reflect my impression of the exhibit without throwing personal bias, preference, and feelings onto the reader.