The cultural detritus that litters our streets fascinates Tacoma-based artist Marc Dombrosky. Dombrosky has spent years collecting and, through his own peculiar handiwork, monumentalizing discarded communiqués: scribbled notes, letters, a page torn from a journal, instructions and directions, a shred of a personal check, and so on. It's a strange kind of sociological exercise, as if Dombrosky is gathering the evidence of a civilization that its populace considers disposable.
Of course, Dombrosky's project is not limited to gathering these letters, notes, and signs. Once he collects them, he carefully punctures the text on each creased, weather-beaten piece of paper with a needle, then matches thread to the color and weight of the ink and painstakingly embroiders the text back into the piece. This process contains many provocative implications. With the puncturing of the text, the artist ostensibly erases the message, only to reassert its meaning through his own re-tracing and stitched fortification. Moreover, the attention and care he affords each piece means that the artist has likely spent more time with these snippets of paper than the persons who created them, and that their strictly utilitarian evaluation of it has been recast as some sacred artifact.
In the APEX gallery, a random group of embroidered notes are haphazardly fanned beneath a thick pane of Plexiglas. To the right, a number of abandoned panhandlers' signs are encased in a series of rectangular vitrines, which mimic the geometric contours of a city's skyline. Suddenly, objects that would be invisible are re-signified as art objects. In these signs, Dombrosky's sewing is most visible. In the smaller pieces, his stitching usually blends seamlessly into the paper, but, here, the signs' reverse sides lay his manipulation bare, as knots and errant threads protrude. In all, Dombrosky's project is Zen-like in its admirably humble scope, and tenderly humanistic in conceptual terms. And though his work would seem to fall into the current social practice trend, he interacts with his ghostly subjects more like an archeologist than a peer.