Where were you in 2002? That was the year Seahawks Stadium opened on the site where the Kingdome was detonated, Eminem topped the Billboard Charts with Lose Yourself, the “Roots” beret was de rigeur at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City – and Art at Work: Tacoma Arts Month was born! As we ramp up to the 10th anniversary of one of T-town’s most popular events – a month-long blitz of cultural activities and fun – we’re taking a look back at the inaugural celebration.
Art at Work 1.0. (or “DO try this at home…”)
An impressive menu of performances and live demonstrations marked the first Art at Work. Following the opening remarks of then-Mayor Bill Baarsma declaring November Tacoma Artists’ Month, the non-stop activities began. During the studio tour, local artist and high priestess of the mischievous arts, Lynn Di Nino, held court at her studio, showing techniques for sculpting animals out of concrete. “I remember hoards of people coming to see. I had samples showing the various steps, and mixed small batch after small batch to show everyone the wonders of white cement….[People] walked away swearing they’d dive into their own project [at home].” Perhaps they walked away with a white coating of cement dust, as well.
Big-name draws such as the Seattle Symphony, and jazz chanteuse Ernestine Anderson, played dates in Tacoma during November. Chamber music and choral concerts were given by students from the University of Puget Sound. And master glass artist, Dante Marioni, drew crowds for his hotshop demonstration at the Museum of Glass.
It was a great opportunity to see Tacoma’s finest making art. Mauricio Robalino demonstrated the gorgeous and intricate art of mosaic. Sculptor Chris Wooten captivated viewers by magically creating animal forms from natural materials. Jill Nordfors Clark took the road less traveled, creating a unique 3-D sculpture out of natural hog gut. Terra Lea Allen performed Bittersweet, a one-woman performance about chocolate. And Jennifer Tonzi demonstrated the fluid grace of ashtanga yoga. Damaris Hayden Classical Ballet treated viewers to a preview of dance works. The Pantages Theater offered visitors a backstage peek into the inner workings of one of Tacoma’s historical gems. And the Freighthouse Light Brigade illuminated the Museum of Glass, an event documented by photographer Michael Williams.
There were 85 activities on the month-long calendar – are you getting the picture? Add to that the open-studio tour, in which 38 artists opened their doors to the public and put their creative process on view. This year, Art at Work is bigger than ever, with more than 300 activities scheduled – many of them free – and 57 artists on board for the studio tour. So get ready, Tacoma, and mark your calendar for art in November!