Tuesday, April 22, 2008

TAM: Don Fels

Dear Docents,

In the fall of 2008, Tacoma Art Museum will be showing an exhibition by Don Fels.

A copy of the catalog is at the docent bookshelf.

What is a Trade? Donald Fels and Signboard Painters of South India
September 13 – December 14, 2008

What Is a Trade? Donald Fels and Signboard Painters of South India presents sixteen large-scale paintings that explore trade and globalization in India. Fels’ conceptual starting point for this exhibition was Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama’s 1498 voyage to Malabar, India, in search of a direct sea route for the spice trade. This exhibition explores the historic and modern-day legacy of that expedition more than 500 years later.The exhibition opens May 2, 2008 at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture in Spokane and travels to the Hoffman Gallery at Lewis and Clark College in Portland January 21 through March 18, 2010.

In 2004 and 2005, Fels traveled to Kerala (formerly Malabar), India, as a Fulbright Senior Research Scholar, to work with local commercial signboard painters on a body of work that examines globalization in India and traces its roots to Vasco’s voyage. Most of the signboard painters had formerly worked as billboard painters—until recently, all billboards in India were hand-painted, but cheaper and more efficient inkjet printers are making the painters obsolete. In light of this trend, Fels and his collaborators created work in the style of traditional hand-painted billboards and Bollywood advertising. The bright colors and strong graphic narratives make visually arresting statements about the historic and contemporary effects of trade and globalization.

This exhibition will be on view in Spokane from May 2 – June 29, 2008:


I do have a copy of the exhibition labels from the Spokane show—our labels will be slightly different. If you would like a copy of the Spokane labels, please let me know and I will email them to you individually.

Lastly, please refrain from buying the Don Fels catalog for now – I will give you more details in July.

Thanks for your time!

Heide Fernandez-Llamazares

Museum Educator and Docent Coordinator



1701 Pacific Avenue

Tacoma, Washington 98402

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