This episode is one of the best artist interviews this podcast has seen—from the slightly heartbreaking story of the sterilization of an animalistic sculpture to a blow-by-blow account of Whiting Tennis trying to figure out how to make his newest work, Blue Tarp, a giant collage painting mounted on canvas that looks like a blue tarp.
Blue Tarp is on display at Tacoma Art Museum, where last Saturday night, Whiting Tennis walked away with the $15,000 Neddy Fellowship for painting. (Charlie Krafft won for ceramics, and we're hoping he'll be on In/Visible next week.)
It has been a banner year for Tennis. In October, he had a well-loved show at Greg Kucera Gallery, from which Seattle Art Museum bought for its permanent collection a massive sculpture called Bovine: The Oregon Trail Reversed.
Two years ago, Tennis moved back to Seattle (his hometown) from New York, where he'd spent more than a decade. He bought a house, after a lifetime of being a hobo, and fell in love with the handmade objects the elderly couple that had formerly lived there left behind.
Meanwhile, over the past five years, he's begun making not just paintings, drawings, and low-reliefs, but standalone architectural figures. His work is stronger than ever, as if at 47 years old he's hit some kind of stride, and you can hear it in the easy way he talks.