Piñata Fever!

Tacoma Doom, by Cheryl Rux and Nichole Vandever

There are so many reasons why we love a piñata: a piñata is charming, a piñata is retro, a piñata is delicate, a piñata is exotic, a piñata is its own reason to throw a party, a piñata invites us to smash it to the proverbial smithereens, then a piñata showers us with candy and toys in its final, paradoxical glory.

Whew! Why did the piñata ever disappear from the party scene? No matter, there is a master piñata maker in our midst, and her name is Cheryl Rux. How good are her piñatas? They’re such funny and clever and beautiful works of art that lucky recipients absolutely hate destroying them. Rux is the Picasso of Piñatas, and she is spreading the gospel of papier-mâché.

Sullen Seagull, by Nichole Vandever and Cheryl Rux (note the crumpled burger wrapper in its beak).

The Tacoma artist has been designing piñatas for a dozen years, a talent she accurately describes as “sculpture, and also a paper craft.” Two years ago her friend Nichole Vandever also fell under the spell of the Mexican craft, and the two joined forces to create the wittiest, whackable works of art this town has ever seen. Examples include Tacoma Doom (the T-Dome circled with a ring of fire); the Heidelberg brewery tower; a pothole with a tire rolling into it (nature detests a void – quite!); Captain Corpuscle, commissioned for a phlebotemist; and Cherry, Rux’s sweet, crimson piñata strung on a satin ribbon thong, commissioned to support Planned Parenthood.

Das ist gut! A Tacoma icon, the Heidelberg brewery tower

Rux and Vandever are obsessed with perfecting their labor-intensive oeuvre; Vandever has gone so far as to develop specially treated papers for their projects. The only thing they seem to love more than dipping their hands in dripping wet paper is conceptualizing wonderful objets d’art for charity. At this writing, the artists were creating top-secret, papier-mâché works for Trick Art Treat, Oct. 28; see them on display at 913 Pacific Ave. from 5 – 7pm. They are also developing pieces for a holiday benefit and Best of Tacoma cd release party at the New Frontier Lounge, date TBA. If you’ve caught the piñata fever, contact Cheryl and Nichole at Ruxroxalrighty@hotmail.com.

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