Archive | September, 2011

All Art and No Dough: “Fall Free for All,” October 8-9

22 Sep
WHAT: Fall Free for All, a community artfest
WHEN: October 8-9, 2011
WHERE: The Pantages, Rialto Theater, and Theater on the Square
HOW: Admission is FREE! To get your wristband pass, call the box office at the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts: 253.591.5894. Wristbands will be available for pick-up at “will call” only. Click here for your FREE wristband pass.

One of the coolest things about the Tacoma arts scene is the abundance of free, high-quality events that have grown up around it. A standout is coming up October 8-9 at the Broadway Center and surrounding venues: The Fall Free For All is a community arts festival that offers a virtually inexhaustible lineup of events all weekend long, including live theater, film, dance, music and a host of family-friendly activities. And it costs less than the price of a latté – it’s free! Come get your cultural fix, support local artists, and check out the spiffy new look of Antique Row and the vibrant Theatre District. Events include:

  • A Broadway Center original production, 11 Days in the Life of Dr. King
  • The world premiere of Voices of the City, presented by the Broadway Center and EnJoy Productions
  • Short plays by local authors sponsored by Northwest Playwrights Alliance
  • Films from the Grand Cinema
  • Tacoma Philharmonic kids’ concert: Trains & Tunes in the New World
  • Diverse work from many cultures, from traditional forms to hip hop
  • Hands-on activities for children
  • A screening of the movie, U2: Rattle and Hum
  • Dance from Barefoot Dance Collective
  • Plus local bands, buskers, magicians, and much more!
  • For festival schedule, click here.

Free for Fall is presented by the Broadway Center with support from the Weyerhaeuser Company Foundation Fund of the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation. See you there!

10 in 10: The F.W. Woolworth Building

14 Sep

In celebration of the 10th anniversary of Art at Work Month, our 10 in 10 series is spotlighting a decade’s worth of fabulous things about Tacoma.

Woolworth's, a 1950's superstore. Photo courtesy of Tacoma Public Library

The Woolworth Building. It’s an anchor of Tacoma’s downtown, a box-shaped receptacle of local lore, and a bastion of nostalgia for those who shopped at the famous five-and-dime or filled up at its homey lunch counter before it closed to the public in January 1994. It’s one of Tacoma’s best-loved buildings, with a varied past. Today, Woolworth’s broad storefront windows provide a unique, open-air exhibition space for art, and no longer advertise the inexpensive household goods that attracted windowshoppers from 1950 on.

The building at 955 Broadway is a landmark of local history and architecture. In the 1800s, it was the location of the First Presbyterian Church (and of a freshwater spring that sometimes leaked inside. Trickles persist to this day.). The church’s minister condemned the racism aimed against Chinese railroad workers at the time, but to no avail; they were driven out of town in the 1880s.

Waiting for the doors to open at Woolworth's. Photo courtesy of Tacoma Public Library

In 1890, the church was replaced by a new altar dedicated to the world of finance: the Fidelity Building, designed by the great Chicago architect Daniel Burnham, of Burnham & Root. (Another of the firm’s structures, the Luzon Building on Pacific Ave., was demolished last year against the protests of citizens and preservationists.) Exactly six decades later, the Fidelity Building was razed to make room for Woolworth’s: such was the success of the New York-based retail chain that it could afford to tear down a handsomely embellished 12-story skyscraper and replace it with a four-story, post-Deco structure whose style was dictated by its brand image. The superstore of the future opened during United Tacoma Days, on Nov. 2, 1950.

The five-and-dime was located across from the sprawling Crystal Sanitary Market where fresh produce filled the stalls; and from the classy Rhodes department store. Other neighbors included small specialty shops, dressmakers and haberdashers. Tacoma’s theater district, one block away, came alive at night; by six o’clock the independent businesses would close, but the behemoth retailer would stay open later, selling candy to moviegoers. Woolworth’s quickly became an important fixture for those who lived downtown, a place where one could find anything – housewares, shoes, cheap jewelry, Simplicity dress patterns and fabric, toys, even pets – and still have enough left for a grilled cheese sandwich and a ‘shake at the 62-seat lunch counter. Continue reading


11 Sep

Sequence by Virginia Bunker

“I was seeing a spectator to something so unfathomable” that it could not be described in words or even contained in visual terms, says photographer/writer Virginia Bunker about Sequence, her commentary on the devastating events of September 11, 2001, in New York City. Her diptych isolates a moment in time that, for many survivors, will forever bisect life into the day before, and the day after.

The viewpoint of Sequence could be that of someone working downtown on that clear September morning, “of someone looking across from Brooklyn Heights, or someone in Japan watching the news, or someone like me, watching it here,” she says. At once describing the intimacy and the anonymity of the terrorist attacks that took thousands of lives in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., Sequence conveys the deep and instantaneous shock experienced by people around the world.

• • • • •

Virginia Bunker is a Tacoma artist who lived in Manhattan in the 1990’s, honing her craft and working at a private photo laboratory pulling prints for the likes of Irving Penn, Horst, Avedon and Condé Nast art director, Alexander Lieberman.

Puget Sound Sumi Artists Celebrate 25 Years

7 Sep

WHO: Puget Sound Sumi Artists
WHAT: 25th Anniversary (three exhibitions + four events)
WHEN/WHERE: Sept. 10-Oct. 21 – exhibit at the Handforth Gallery, Tacoma Public Library, 1102 South Tacoma Ave. Reception Sept. 10, 1-3p.m.
Sept. 16-Dec. 30 – exhibit at the Reference Library, University of Washington-Tacoma, 1900 South Commerce/South 19th and South Pacific Ave., Tacoma. Library hours: Daily 9a.m.-5p.m. Reception Sept. 29, 4:30-5:30p.m.
Oct. 8-Nov. 8 – exhibit at Mavi Contemporary Gallery, 502 Sixth Ave., Tacoma. Contact: Reception Oct. 20, 5-8p.m.
Oct. 21 – activities day at the Handforth Gallery, Tacoma Public Library, 1102 South Tacoma Ave. Demos and activities, 2-4p.m.
TRANSPORTATION: For Third Thursday only, Sept. 15, gallery goers can catch the Art Bus at the Tacoma Art Museum, for $10. Come early, bus leaves at 6p.m. sharp.

"Snow Thunder" by Selinda Sheridan

This fall, a trio of exhibitions will honor the Puget Sound Sumi Artists’ (PSSA) 25th anniversary. The first tribute opening Sept. 10 is a retrospective of over 70 paintings by 42 artists at the Handforth Gallery in the Tacoma Public Library. Exhibitions at the University of Washington-Tacoma (UWT) Reference Library and Mavi Contemporary Gallery will follow.

PSSA was founded in 1986 by Fumiko Kimura, Mary Bottomley and Ann Inouye, three local artists who had studied art in Japan. The women had diverse focuses in the beginning: Kimura was a sumi-e (wash and ink) painter, Inouye’s concentration was in ikebana (flower arranging) and Bottomley’s focus was shodo (calligraphy). They opened up all three arts to interested students in the Puget Sound area. They were virtually the only organization making such cultural offerings available in the region.

Today, PSSA membership stretches across Western Washington. As some of the earliest members have passed away, a new generation of artists has signed on, in some cases edging the form in new directions. The quarter-century of work in these exhibitions shows the evolution of traditional brush painting from classical to more experimental techniques, the latter in the work of artists such as Bill Colby, who combines sumi with other media. “I studied calligraphy with Mary Bottomley with the goal of simplicity in my many printmaking processes and techniques,” says the revered printmaker. “It has worked some, but I still like to fuss!” Continue reading

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