It Takes a Village


Dock Street

Coalescence by Colleen Maloney
At Shift through March 26

by Cynthia Hibbard

In her current Shift show Colleen Maloney has adjusted her perspective and expanded her media but remains focused on the built environment.

ln her last outing Maloney had showed a large series of abstracted monotypes drawn from satellite photographs of urban landscapes.  This time she drew more from eye-level depictions of familiar Puget Sound images such as the Dock Street Bridge in Tacoma and the iconic Smith Tower of Seattle counterpointed with its new waterfront rival, the Great Wheel.

She did so by translating a variety of reference photographs into monotypes, shellac plate engravings, some with chine colle, and acrylic paintings.  And, unlike some artists who work in guarded solitude, she created in eager communication with others whose opinions she values.

“It really takes more than one person to make a show,” she said.  “I seek out people while making art–listening, collecting and interpreting what they say. “While “Seattle’s Promenade Series” was in progress, I sent photos to my sister, also an artist, for advice.  Using a digital painting app, she’d send suggestions.  It was a fun and beneficial collaboration for both of us.”


Summer Sunshine

A regular renter at the Pratt Fine Arts Center print lab and a member of the Seattle Printique artists’ salon, Maloney also solicited her colleagues’ feedback as she refined her work.

Maloney spawned Coalescence in other ways.  Attracted to the landscape she observes living halfway between Seattle and Tacoma, she merged the two cityscapes with her presented imagery.  She also blended the appeal, in skewed perspectives, of the more formal, etched line work of her engravings with the watery brushstrokes of her monotypes.

In another way, Maloney formed her ideas by precisely planning her show pieces to fit the varying wall space in Shift Gallery before she even began them. “In a way it goes back to my graphic design experience in that you always work backwards in planning a project,” she said.

The Locks

The Locks

Although Maloney’s imagery is familiar, she treats her viewers to some surprises.  In one particularly compelling and large monotype, “The Locks” –the most aerial of her viewpoints–she breaks up the landscape into dreamy, floating pieces reminiscent of Chagall.

Tacoma Art Museum

Floating Reflections I

In “Floating Reflections 1 and 2,” she transforms a static and permanent Dale Chihuly installation in Tacoma into a surreal plane of cryptic objects that beg to move.

Maloney personally favors the diptych monotype, “Dock Street” of all her pieces for its serene atmosphere and an appealing, slight unevenness resulting from her printing process.

“Finally, after making decisions about a print much is left to chance once it’s put on the press,” she said.  “That’s the most exciting part.  The printing press is a powerful collaborator and I admire how it keeps me loose, wondering and oftentimes thrilled.”