Saturday, January 23, 2010

Outstanding Nancy Johnson retrospective at Brick House Gallery

Tacoma's new Brick House Gallery has opened with a bang-up retrospective of the work of Nancy Johnson. A long-time project of outstanding local artist Peter MacDonald, the charming gallery is in a restored 1900-era house at 1123 South Fawcett Street in downtown T-town.

A steady stream of visitors enjoyed viewing the paintings and meeting the artist at a reception Thursday evening. Johnson has been painting since the '50s, and this particular exhibit spans five decades of her work, from 1968 through 2002. Several artifacts around the cozy gallery underscored Johnson's long and successful career, including a 1982 "Pacific" magazine from the Seattle Times for which Johnson painted the cover illustration.

The painting at right particularly caught Weisenheimer's eye. Titled "Sonatina #14," the 2001 work is part of a series of spectacular abstract landscapes. Johnson says in her statement on the paintings that she does not have an image in mind when she starts, but yet "some people see in the paintings places they have been, places I have never seen." Indeed, when he saw me riveted to "Sonatina #14" MacDonald remarked that it reminded him of Wyoming. Interestingly, I was thinking just the same thing, as the powerful, roiling, bright cloud took me back to the thunderstorms we encountered while on our Pioneer League baseball tour last summer. The bright cloud is not a result of camera glare; I snapped it with my iPhone. No flash. It's even more spectacular in person in its full size, 30x30.

Many of the paintings in the exhibit feature water scenes, swimming and sunbathing or just the waves rolling in. They're spectacular. Go see!

Brick House Gallery is open limited hours, the third Thursday of each month from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. MacDonald will also open the gallery by appointment. Call 253-627-0426 or visit the Web site at