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Northwest Perspective Series - Scott Fife, Sculptor

September 18, 2004 - January 2, 2005.


(above: Scott Fife, Leroy, the Big Pup, 2004, archival cardboard, carpenter's glue, and drywall screws. Collection of the artist, Courtesy of Platform Gallery)


Tacoma Art Museum continues its commitment to Northwest art and artists with an exhibition of sculpture by Seattle artist Scott Fife. Scott Fife is a select survey of works that span Fife's distinguished twenty-five year career and is on view September 18, 2004 through January 2, 2005.

"Fife's art builds on the work of 1960s pop artists' love of whimsy, irony and fascination with American culture," noted Tacoma Art Museum Chief Curator Patricia McDonnell. "The expressive power of the artist's work comes from the carefully orchestrated tension between reality and illusion, between the subject portrayed and the materials and technique applied."

This mid-career survey reveals Scott Fife's distinctive technique of creating realist sculpture from archival cardboard. The artist's early work focused on still life subjects in which everyday items such as sinks, dressers, armchairs, and radios served as inspiration for constructing his remarkable sculptures. Fife's recent work explores articles of clothing and portraiture as ways to probe methods of self-presentation in American life. (right: Scott Fife, President Theodore Roosevelt, 2002, from the series The Idaho Project,. archival cardboard, carpenter's glue, and drywall screws, 24 x 22 x 20 inches. Collection of the City of Seattle)

One of Fife's major works, The Idaho Project, will be on display in the exhibition. This narrative work consists of twenty Roman portrait style busts, including representations of Theodore Roosevelt, Clarence Darrow, and Eugene Debs. The Idaho Project relates to an early twentieth-century trial in Boise, Idaho which dealt with labor unrest and attempts at union busting. Fife also created an 11 foot sculpture of a puppy for the exhibition, which will be installed in Tacoma Art Museum's Weyerhaeuser Family and Boeing Company galleries.

Scott Fife provides recognition for a noteworthy Northwest artist whose record includes one-person exhibitions at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle (1992), Boise Art Museum in Idaho (1994), Cheney Cowles Museum in Spokane (1994), and regular exhibitions in Berlin, Germany in the 1980s and 1990s. Fife is also known for Safe, his 6-foot sculpture of an umpire at Safeco Field in Seattle. Fife has also received artist awards from the New York Foundation for the Arts and Artist Trust.

Scott Fife is part of the museum's Northwest Perspective series, which also includes a current exhibition of works by legendary Northwest ceramist Howard Kottler. Before moving to its new building in May 2003, Tacoma Art Museum periodically featured the 12th Street Series and Northwest Perspective is the continuation of that series in the new building.

In addition to Scott Fife, Tacoma Art Museum is showing a selection of works from the permanent collection and two additional exhibitions. Look Alikes: The Decal Plates of Howard Kottler is on view through December 12, 2004, and is part of the Northwest Perspective series. This display of ceramic plates adorned with familiar icons showcases the wit and irony of legendary Northwest ceramist Howard Kottler (1930 - 1989).

A Sense of Place: Selections from the Tacoma Art Museum Collection is on long-term display through January 15, 2006. This display of works from the museum's collection explores how artists such as Eugène Louis Boudin, Edward Hopper, Thomas Hart Benton, Doris Chase, and Jacob Lawrence have depicted their surroundings.

Hudson River School: Masterworks from the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art is on view through January 16, 2005. This leading exhibition features over fifty stunning paintings of the pristine American landscape by prominent nineteenth-century artists such as Thomas Cole, Asher B. Durand, Frederic E. Church, and Alfred Bierstadt. (right: Scott Fife, Early 1950's New Look Suit with Pearls, 1999, archival cardboard, carpenter's glue, and drywall screws, 43 x 27 x 13 inches. Collection of the artist) 

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