The Tacoma Heart Ball is the annual gala auction for the Tacoma chapter of the American Heart Association. Friday, April 27, 2012 was the third year I’ve painted this event. The venue this year was the über-stylish Hotel Murano. Formerly the Sheraton Tacoma, a stark, mid century Modern high rise, the Murano is now a veritable art museum. It’s namesake is the famed glass blowing island in Venice, where centuries of tradition have refined the glass art that lives on in the Pacific Northwest, in large part because of Tacoma’s native son cum patron, Dale Chihuly.
In this tall lobby, enormous glass canoes hang like chandeliers— an homage yet again, this time to the Salish tribes of Puget Sound. They appear distant in my painting only because they are. I set up my easel on the third story of a four story atrium, looking down the long hall toward the ballroom. We see the canoes lengthwise, so in the painting, alas, they look like hanging vases.
The nearer chandelier is a magnificent tangle of reflective glass from the isle of Murano itself, and the largest that glass artist has ever made. Another hanging feature— for one night only— is a trapeze artist in the stairwell, serving champagne to the guests.
The hotel lobby bar is to the left on the main level. Unfortunately hidden beneath the balcony from my view, the bar’s north wall is almost entirely covered by a framed print, my favorite work of art in the building: a full size Chuck Close (another Washington favorite son.)
This labyrinth of architecture was a challenge to paint, and per usual, I bent the perspective to include all that I could see. At charity auctions, I always paint the buyer of the painting into the foreground, and we see him here approaching as if he’d just come off the elevators (unseen, to the right.)