Spite House

At first glance, trash appears to have been strewn in the front gallery of the group show Spite House. A section of chain-link fence has been crumpled into a ball on the floor. (Then, oddly, coated in gold paint.) Assemblages of duct tape, scrap wood, cardboard, and plastic bags reach up to the ceiling. Nearby, the plywood sarcophagus When the First One of Us Dies has the look of a one-man homeless shelter or coffin. It’s built of rude materials salvaged from the streets by Tacoma artist Eli Hansen (with Herman Beans), the kind of stuff you find heaped next to a dumpster—not quite good enough to keep, not quite bad enough to toss. Shelter, or the lack of it, is also documented in Hansen’s large photo of a temporary creation, A Place I Used to Live. This turns out to be an elevated, open air sleeping loft, mounted to a graffiti-covered wall, reachable only by a ladder, suspended over railroad tracks. (In the photo, a mattress has fallen down to the gravel railway bed.) It is not a place of rest or refuge. Rather, the flimsy, precarious roost suggests how walls and roofs can fail, and fail to protect us. Everything here is ad-hoc, revocable, could be busted up with a sledge hammer in the alley and reduced to rubble. And then next guy in need might build something with it. BRIAN MILLER

Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Starts: Aug. 6. Continues through Sept. 12, 2009

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