A cadre of bright and playful artwork — of the type which one may have recently seen on the sentimental card racks of grocery and department stores around the country — is coming to Gallery Fraga on Bainbridge in June.
And if Seattle-based artist Debbie Tomassi’s somewhat sarcastic works don’t entice laughter, they should, at very least, elicit a smile.
She’s a working artist and humorous writer, who, for the past 20-some-odd years has crafted quirky, cartoon images for national greeting card companies. She is also an established and talented painter adept enough to recreate the intricacies of a swimmer with head and shoulders above water near picture-perfectly.
But her perky soul prefers the former.
“If I wanted to do photorealism I would take a photograph,” Tomassi said. “I can paint that way, but the other work is more expressive, it has more personality.”
Tomassi — born and raised in Kitsap — creates comics, cartoons, greeting cards and large-scale oil paintings with splashing colors and a boldly imperfect style that gives her work an approachable quality.
“People can look at it, understand it and not be intimidated by it,” she said.
Throughout her career as a showcasing artist — reaching into Western Washington galleries including the Gunnar Nordstrom in Kirkland and now the Gallery Fraga — she’s only done one show which could qualify as “dark,” she said. And that was that.
“The happy and the whimsy and the wildness, I think that’s what I look like on the inside,” she said.
In one of her busiest new works — some of which are on e-display at her Web site (www.debbietomassi.com) — a polka-dotted yellow bird wearing a propeller cap is perched amidst a blue background and scattered toys. Text along the shape of the bird’s back states, “We don’t stop playing because we get old, we get old because we stop playing.”
Also within those new works, she features subject matter ranging from a cleverly depicted tree house to floating little girls’ dresses devoid of bodies and even a cup of green tea, all with a heavy undercurrent of color and fun.
On the other side, her cartoon greeting cards and comics relate a sharp sense of wit and irony through simple characters — men, women, cats, dogs and beyond — in everyday situations.
“This show is going to bridge between those two looks,” Tomassi said.
And it will also be her first-ever solo show on the island.
Tomassi’s exhibition opens with an artist’s reception from 6-8 p.m. June 1 and will hang throughout the month at Gallery Fraga — 166 Winslow Way East on Bainbridge.
For more information visit www.galleryfraga.com or call (206) 843-1151.