Archive | July, 2011

Mural Update: Almost There!

27 Jul

Our team of fifteen muralists have worked quickly on the 43rd Street bridge mural! It seems like the design is really coming along and with this past weekend’s nice weather, a lot of progress was made.

A shot of last week's progress on the bridge. Image: Kelda Martensen

Wondering how the leaf design you saw in last week’s Mural update came to be? Well, after the class of mural students visited the site, they discussed various plans, including the concept of the inverting wave in the background. One of the students used the surrounding foliage and seeds as a design element, and soon a fully-realized concept was developed! It was presented to the McKinley neighborhood group and the rest is, well, history.

The muralists get some help from the kids over the weekend at Bergerson Terrace. Image: Jeremy Gregory

Meanwhile, painting on the Bergerson Terrace wall has begun! The wall is located next to the play area outside of Bergerson Terrace’s community center, at 5301 S. Orchard Street. The wall will soon be covered in a design that was developed with community groups nearby, like Tacoma Housing Authority. Keeping kids in mind, the design is bright and whimsical, and includes images inspired by the children who play at the Bergerson playground and community center.

Our muralists will be splitting their time between the 43rd Street site and Bergerson Terrace for the next few painting days, until the 43rd Street mural is finished. Then, they will concentrate their efforts on Bergerson Terrace. Before we know it, both of the training murals will be completed! If you want to catch any of the action, be sure to stop by either site this coming weekend to see the finishing touches.

Link Light Rail: A Tacoma Timeline

21 Jul

You’ve probably heard about the new Link light rail station that’s going in this month by Commerce Street and S. 11th, right? It’ll be a great convenience for anyone going to the Tacoma School of the Arts or the Pacific Plaza.

But more than just another stop on your morning commute, the new station will also feature some great artwork by local artist Chandler O’Leary. Earlier this spring, we put out a call to artists to create a design that would be suitable for etching into the glass panels of the shelters at the new station.

O’Leary’s design, shown below, pulls inspiration from Tacoma’s rail story – past, present, and future. It consists of two distinct rail lines; one represents traditional railroad tracks, while the other represents our modern light rail tracks. The traditional railroad track at the top left branches out into many tracks, symbolizing Tacoma’s transition to an urban hub. The light rail line, on the other hand, begins as several tracks that converge into one – depicting the end of Tacoma’s streetcar system, and our path into the future with our Link light rail.

A portion of the full design that will be installed at the new light rail station. Image: Chandler O'Leary

In the background, O’Leary chose to illustrate some of Tacoma’s most iconic and historic buildings. Every structure shown has some connection to our rail system – having existed along a previous streetcar line, the current light rail line, or overlooking our railroad line.

“With my design,” O’Leary states, “I aim to transform the simple act of waiting for the train into an intimate, reflective and inspiring experience – a quiet, personal moment in the heart of a bustling, thriving city.”

Glass panels are etched with Chandler's design.

Here is what the design looks like etched into glass waiting for pickup at Bancheros Glass and Etching Company.  Each panel is numbered to insure proper installation.  Look for the complete installation this August when the shelters go up at the new light rail stations at Commerce and 11th!

Robert Horner’s Architecture of Rammed Earth

18 Jul

Tidal Resonance Chamber. Photo: Robert Horner

When artist-architect Robert Horner chose a building technique called “rammed earth” to create his Tidal Resonance Chamber, on Tacoma’s tideflats, he utilized a construction method that dates back thousands of years, to the Neolithic age. Yet the “earthen” chamber, a clean-lined trapezoid that harbors a 2,500-gallon tank of water pumped from the adjacent Thea Foss Waterway, is thoroughly modern in design – and it addresses contemporary concerns of ecology and sustainability.

The pool will eventually host barnacles and other aquatic life forms. Photo: Robert Horner

This permanent public art work is a contemplative space, one whose thick, freestanding walls offer a buffer from the industrial noise of the Port of Tacoma while allowing an open view of sky. The stone-filled pool ebbs and flows with the riverine tide via a series of feedback pumps. According to Horner, the chamber is designed to allow users to “synchronize with the natural rhythms of Commencement Bay,” and to “reflect on the manner in which human beings have utilized and manipulated the natural environment.”

Photo: Robert Horner

The former student of microbiology notes, “Estuaries have always fascinated me, especially how they serve as bio-filters for the planet.” Appropriately, the roughly 12′ x 18′ chamber is sited next to the Center for Urban Waters, a marine research facility housing the city’s Environmental Services Division, University of Washington Tacoma labs, and the Puget Sound Partnership.

Photo: Robert Horner

Tidal Resonance Chamber is Tacoma’s first construct from the rammed-earth method, a technique used in building the Alhambra, in Spain, and China’s Great Wall, as well as structures in the American southwest, where the material provides insulation from heat. Horner worked with builder Bly Windstorm of Port Townsend-based Earth Dwell LTD, which specializes in the eco-building technique. Historically, rammed earth construction has employed local materials and generated little waste. Continue reading

Tacoma Murals Update: 43rd Street

15 Jul

The next stages of the Tacoma Murals Project are moving quickly – the 43rd Street bridge training mural is already in progress! With several community meetings behind them, the teaching artists and muralists of this year’s Murals Project are looking forward to attacking the wall this weekend with prep work and priming, in the hopes of getting the bulk of the mural done within a week or so.

A few of the muralists clean and prep the barrier of the bridge. Photo courtesy of Kelda Martensen.

On Thursday, the group began prepping the low barrier by scraping old paint and moss off of the wall. Priming is slated to begin today, and the goal is to have the wall completely primed and partially painted by the end of the weekend.

The muralists have already met with graffiti cleanup crews and neighborhood groups to learn more about the community’s assets and liabilities. They’ve gathered responses and other input and developed a design proposal, shown below.

“With our design,” says lead artist Chris Sharp, “we’ve left room for further community input and I can foresee us having a spontaneous component finishing the design.” These community meetings have helped the artists gain a better understanding about the personality of the neighborhood, and what its residents hope to see for the mural that will soon be gracing their daily commutes.

The proposal design for the 43rd Street bridge. Image courtesy of Chris Sharp.

Curious about the design and how it will come to life? Swing by the 43rd Street bridge – near the intersection of E. 43rd Street and E. C Street – between 10am and 4pm on both Saturday and Sunday to see the artists in action. Plenty of painting should be going on this weekend (weather permitting!), and you won’t want to miss it.

Hilltop Block Party! July 21, 5 to 8p.m.

15 Jul

Spaceworks has gone viral (well almost). The popular public arts program designed to energize vacant downtown retail space through art exhibitions and performances has just expanded with the addition of four new studios on Tacoma’s Hilltop. To celebrate, the participating artists are throwing an Art Block Party on the 1300 block of Martin Luther King Way on Thursday, July 21, 5 to 8p.m., as part of the Third Thursday Art Walk. The new venues will be open to the public offering FREE tours, live music, a DJ performance and refreshments. Artists will be on hand to answer questions and offer information about upcoming events, collaborations, and ways to become involved in the Tacoma art scene. Participants include:

Fab-5 – The graffiti consortium is launching FABITAT, an innovative creative lab aimed at inspiring underserved youth through the arts.
Nate Dybevik – A musician, composer and apprentice piano rebuilder (training under internationally renowned expert Obi Manteufel), Dybevik will have his dismantled, vintage European piano “projects” on display.
Toy Boat Theatre – This new theatre troupe is developing a play, Dakota’s Belly, Wyoming, by Erin Cressida Wilson, in conjunction with the theatre department at the University of Puget Sound. Show will open in August.

Spaceworks’ neighbor to the north, Fulcrum Gallery, will also be welcoming visitors to the block party with an exhibit of paintings by Peter Scheesley. Pull on your flip-flops and come out to meet the new peeps on the block!

“Our Town” grant awarded to City of Tacoma and Tacoma Art Museum

12 Jul

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) recently awarded the City of Tacoma and our Tacoma Art Museum an “Our Town” grant – one of 51 awarded nationwide! This grant is the NEA’s latest investment in creative placemaking – bringing together public and private sectors to shape the economic and social characters of a neighborhood around arts and cultural activities. Sounds like the perfect award for downtown Tacoma, right?

The $200,000 grant will go toward the redesign of the Tacoma Art Museum Plaza and the adjacent Pacific Avenue streetscape. Hopefully, this redesign will increase access to the museum and the connections between the museum district and the rest of the downtown area.

“I remember sitting in the US Conference of Mayors TAPES (Tourism, Arts, Parks, Entertainment, Sports) Committee meeting in January when this grant opportunity from the NEA was announced, and thought that the redesign of Pacific Avenue and the Tacoma Art Museum plaza area fit perfectly in line with the vision of creative placemaking they were describing,” recalled Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland. “And, now, we’re the recipient of our full request.”

“Tacoma Art Museum is proud to partner with the City on this project,” said Stephanie A. Stebich, Director, Tacoma Art Museum. “In the 1990s, the museum worked closely with the City during the construction of its current facility, transforming downtown Tacoma. Our continued work together will build on that success and ensure Tacoma is a thriving, creative and welcoming community with the arts at its core.”

Are you excited? Because we’re pretty pumped, and we can’t wait to see the changes. Learn more about the TAM Plaza redesign here.

Tacoma Poet Laureate to Host Writing Workshop, July 16

11 Jul

What: Place and Persona, a poetry workshop hosted by Josie Emmons Turner
When: Saturday, July 16,  9 am – 1 pm
Where: Fort Nisqually Museum, Great Room
Cost: FREE, pre-registration required. Please fill out a registration form and send to josie.turner.poet@gmail.com. Workshop space is limited to 15.

Josie Emmons Turner at Fort Nisqually. Photo: Bill Turner

Tacoma Poet Laureate, Josie Emmons Turner, will host a free poetry workshop in the Great Room of Fort Nisqually at Point Defiance Park, on Saturday, July 16. The workshop, Place and Persona, will explore “persona poems” – poems in which the narrator’s voice is that of an imaginary person, not the writer. This technique frees the poet to imaginatively explore new worlds. The first two hours will be spent exploring various persona poems. Participants will then have a private hour for quiet reflection and writing poetry. During the final hour, participants will share new draft poems. Workshop participants should bring a sack lunch and writing materials. Continue reading

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