Archive | December, 2011

10 in 10: 2002 Museum of Glass Transforms Tacoma Skyline

30 Dec

(This piece concludes our 10 in 10 series spotlighting 10 of the top people, ideas and organizations to hit Tacoma in the past decade. 10 in 10 was conceived in celebration of the 10th anniversary of Art at Work Month, Tacoma’s premier annual cultural event, and a month-long celebration of the arts.)

"Cone Study No. 3," the tilted cone at the Museum of Glass. Photo: Sharon Styer

The Museum of Glass opened its doors in 2002 and Tacoma instantly won a place on the international art map. This spectacular, world-class museum grew out of a conversation 10 years earlier between Phil Phibbs, recently retired president of the University of Puget Sound; and Tacoma native, glass visionary, and co-founder of the Pilchuck Glass School, Dale Chihuly. The two agreed that the emergent Studio Glass Movement deserved its own showcase, and that Tacoma should be its nexus. The idea would unfold over the next several years, achieving undreamed of success with its opening in 2002.

"The Glass Ceiling," the Chihuly Bridge of Glass. Photo: Sharon Styer

Today, the Museum of Glass forms the most recognizable silhouette on the Tacoma skyline. The MoG operates a top-flight learning facility for glass artists, with a Hot Shop Amphitheatre located inside its 90′-high tilted cone. Master glass artists from all over the world teach and exhibit at the MoG, and artists from other mediums are also represented in the galleries. The Chihuly Bridge of Glass, connecting the museum to downtown Pacific Ave.,  is a tribute to the glass artist who helped make an incredible vision a reality, and elevated Tacoma’s status as an art center.

Photographs of the Museum of Glass and art by Sharon Styer.

Enjoy past stories in our 10-in-10 Series:

10 in 10: 2003 New Tacoma Art Museum Unveiled
10 in 10: 2004 Scattered Ephemera
10 in 10: 2006 City Arts Magazine Hits Tacoma

10 in 10: 2001 Free Ya Mind
10 in 10: 2006 the Broadway Center Shines Anew

10 in 10: 2001 The Birth of Tacoma’s Very Own Volcano
10 in 10: 2005 The AMOCAT Awards

10 in 10: The F.W. Woolworth Building
10 in 10: 2001 Tacoma Gets Smart (UW-Tacoma and SOTA)

10 in 10: 2003 New Tacoma Art Museum Unveiled

29 Dec

Photo: Sharon Styer

(To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Art at Work, our 10 in 10 series showcases 10 of the best people, ideas and organizations to enrich Tacoma in the past decade.)

In 2003, the Tacoma Art Museum moved into a sleek new headquarters at 1701 Pacific Ave., and ushered in a new era for the arts locally. The bold structure by Albuquerque, NM-based architect, Antoine Predock, was immediately acclaimed for its modern profile and silvery, stainless steel skin that evoked the luminous quality of Northwest light and water, as well as the city’s industrial underpinnings. The Predock building was the first ever designed specifically to house the museum and its collections since TAM’s inception in 1935; previous locations included the College of Puget Sound (1935-1958), a rented storefront space at 742 Broadway (1958-1963), “the Old Jailhouse,” an office building at 621 Pacific (1963-1971), and a former bank building at 1123 Pacific Ave. The new TAM proved to be a stunning symbol of the arts-fueled, downtown economic revival.

TAM's lobby with a back view of a Scott Fife sculpture. Photo: Sharon Styer

Last year, TAM celebrated its 75th anniversary with Mighty Tacoma, an exhibition showcasing the city’s venerable and varied legacy of art and artists. The museum is one of the architectural icons of downtown with 12,000′ of open, airy gallery space, plus sweeping vistas of Mt. Rainier, Thea Foss Waterway and the historic University of Washington-Tacoma campus. The central outdoor courtyard is graced with an undulating “stone wave” surrounded by 30′-high, mirrored glass walls.

TAM has announced plans for a remodel of its outdoor plaza by Olson Kundig architects, in 2012. The redesign will address issues of foot traffic and connectivity with adjacent properties, including Tollefson Plaza directly across Pacific Ave. The remodel is made possible with support from a 2011 $200,000 “Our Town” grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) awarded to the museum and the City of Tacoma. Congratulations, TAM, and many happy returns!

Enjoy past stories in our 10-in-10 Series:

10 in 10: 2004 Scattered Ephemera
10 in 10: 2006 City Arts Magazine Hits Tacoma

10 in 10: 2001 Free Ya Mind
10 in 10: 2006 the Broadway Center Shines Anew

10 in 10: 2001 The Birth of Tacoma’s Very Own Volcano
10 in 10: 2005 The AMOCAT Awards

10 in 10: The F.W. Woolworth Building
10 in 10: 2001 Tacoma Gets Smart (UW-Tacoma and SOTA)

10 in 10: 2004 Scattered Ephemera

23 Dec

(Our 10 in 10 series is celebrating a decade of Tacoma arts and culture, in honor of the 10th anniversary of Art at Work Month, this November.)

Delicious art work was up for grabs at "the Cakewalk," an event to publicize TaCo and "Scattered Ephemera." Photo: John Carlton

Scattered Ephemera was a seminal event in the Tacoma art scene organized by Tacoma Contemporary (TaCo) and the City of Tacoma, in 2004. Scattered Ephemera was a sprawling, six-week-long, conceptual artists’ tribute to one city block, on 11th St. from Commerce to Broadway, where the F.W. Woolworth Building stands. The project combined window installations, live performance, radio soundscapes, video, a youth workshop, and painting. A special commemorative edition of the arts newspaper, The Toby Room, heralded the event. TaCo described it as “a three-year, national artistic historic collaboration that culminates in Tacoma on July 22.”

A tasty interpretation of Van Gogh's "Starry Night." Photo: John Carlton

New Orleans-based poet and National Public Radio commentator Andrei Codrescu headlined the national and regional artists who deconstructed Tacoma history for the event. The idea was the brainstorm of artist Kate Sidwell, a one-time Seattleite whose friend, Jan Gilbert, ran the VESTIGES Project investigating the life of cities through the “tangible traces of things past.” Scattered Ephemera was widely covered in the media and proved an important launchpad for the future of public art in Tacoma.

Walking the walk at the Cakewalk. Photo: John Carlton

The F.W. Woolworth Building provided a compelling capsule for the memories and essences of Tacoma being dredged for the event, being as it were a branch of the store chain whose lunch counters had been the stage (in the South) for conflict during the civil rights movement. Among the controversial art pieces presented was John Runnels’ installation in the Woolworth windows, Chinese Must Go, featuring racially charged comments in bright neon, and pressed shirts representing the city officials who drove Chinese railroad workers out of town in the 1880s by the so-called “Tacoma Method.” Codrescu did an interactive performance piece in the Farmers’ Market – and wrote an acerbic essay about Tacoma’s blue collar status and alleged inferiority complex to Seattle’s culturati. John Kessler compiled a daily “audio collage” of local sounds and voices for broadcast on KPLU. On the sidewalk running down from Broadway to Commerce, citizens assisted in writing “Side Walk Poetry.”

Today, local citizens continue to be engaged by the history, architecture and retro mystique of Woolworth’s, and bring their own scattered, ephemeral memories to the former five-and-dime. Its windows are occupied by installations in the Spaceworks Tacoma program (activating vacant retail space with art); inside is an AT&T switching station. The building is both a relic of the past and a platform for evanescent contemporary art.

Enjoy past stories in our 10-in-10 Series:

10 in 10: 2006 City Arts Magazine Hits Tacoma
10 in 10: 2001 Free Ya Mind
10 in 10: 2006 the Broadway Center Shines Anew

10 in 10: 2001 The Birth of Tacoma’s Very Own Volcano
10 in 10: 2005 The AMOCAT Awards

10 in 10: The F.W. Woolworth Building
10 in 10: 2001 Tacoma Gets Smart (UW-Tacoma and SOTA)


10 in 10: 2006 City Arts Magazine Hits Tacoma

19 Dec
(In celebration of 10 years of Art at Work Month, our 10 in 10 series spotlights the top 10 ideas, people and organizations to hit Tacoma in the past decade.)

Move over, Stranger. Make room, Seattle Weekly. If magazines could talk, that would’ve been the opening shot for City Arts, a 32-page glossy that launched in 2006 and put Tacoma on the cultural map next to our artsy neighbor to the north. The free monthly, under editor-in-chief Jeffrey Hirsch, focused a wide-angle lens on Tacoma’s up-and-coming artists, and on movers and shakers in the realms of music, fashion, technology, exhibitions, arts organizations and the museums. The slick gave the local art scene a surprising new perspective on itself – its rising breadth and quality – served up in full-color magazine photography and smart prose. The creative community found a lively forum for ideas in its pages.

“People who love the arts have always known that Tacoma is full of artists and people who love art,” says Virginia Bunker, a former Associate Editor of City Arts’ Tacoma edition. “But perhaps that came to a surprise to some readers, in Seattle and elsewhere, who know the city less well.” Bunker cites diverse topics such as the work of cowboy painter Fred Oldfield, the “jerkin'” dance craze, and an undying local penchant for graffiti, as gems capturing the essence of Tacoma’s quirky art scene. The local spoken-word scene was a revelation: “There are some amazing poets in this town.” Continue reading

Enter the Dragon 2011

15 Dec

According to ancient Chinese tradition, the celestial dragon was symbolic of the emperor and his imperial power. Today, it is a symbol of good fortune for ringing in the New Year, right here in T-town. The Tacoma Metro Parks Portland Ave. Community Center organized creative kids from across the city in designing this 35′ Chinese Dragon which will be paraded on Dec. 31 during First Night Tacoma! The creature came to life through the efforts of Community Center members, Sparx units from First Creek and Stewart Middle Schools, and those from Metro Parks, according to Mary Tuttle, Tacoma Metro Parks Senior Arts Coordinator.

This year’s First Night Tacoma! event is built around the Chinese Zodiac, and constructing the vibrant creature gave kids a chance to learn about Chinese culture (the dragon signifies good fortune and happiness). It took team member April Shief eight hours to hand-cut 300 scales from cobalt blue and jade green fabric; industrious kids spent two hours a day for two weeks working on the body. The head alone took three days to complete.

The traditional mythological creature got a Tacoma twist via a long, boxy body that suggests a locomotive (evoking local railroad history); the blue-and-green scales match Metro Parks’ official colors. You can get a close-up look at the dragon in its lair at 912 Broadway, until Dec. 31, when it will snake down crowded city streets. For more info on First Night events: http://www.firstnighttacoma.org.

Toy Boat Theatre’s Final Run Begins Tonight!

15 Dec

From left: Olivia Seward, Marilyn Bennett, Peter Pendras, Meleesa Wyatt, Matt Shimkus, Trevor Pendras, Aaron Jacobs.

Toy Boat Theatre is presenting That Delicate Light, a special winter solstice event celebrating the season, and the conclusion of their madly successful Spaceworks residency on MLK Way. Directed by Suzy Willhoft, with stage design by Scott Campbell, That Delicate Light features superb local actors Aaron Jacobs, Matt Shimkus, Olivia Seward, Meleesa Wyatt and Marilyn Bennett (Artistic Director of TBT). Guitarists Peter Pendras (“Malibu Manouche”) and Trevor Pendras (“Country Lips”) will offer a collection of poetry, scenes, music and reflections on the season, in an original work that expresses TBT’s credo: “Good acting in a humble house.” Family-friendly fun for children 10 and up. Please be a part of “this special farewell to 2011, and a welcome to all things growing and changing in 2012!”

Dates: December 15 & 16, 8pm; December 17, 2pm and 8pm. Tickets: $10 adults, $5 children 12 and under. http://www.brownpapertickets.com. Toy Boat Theatre is at 1314 M L King Way, in the Hilltop neighborhood. Contact: marilyn.bennett60@gmail.com

10 in 10: 2001 Free Ya Mind

13 Dec
(In celebration of 10 years of Art at Work Month, our 10 in 10 series spotlights the top 10 ideas, people and organizations to hit Tacoma in the past decade.)

Cool cat Stella Haioulanil at the AMOCAT Awards. Photo: Rodney Upchurch

One of the great moments in AMOCAT Awards history occurred in November when AMOCAT recipient and T-town creative force Stella Haioulanil recited her freshly minted (as in just that morning) poem, I Am A Cat, during the awards ceremony at the Museum of Glass. In a feline fedora, with soft, cat-like cadences, she began:

I Am a Cat
One day not long ago, the City called and told me I was a cat. I said, I’m a cat?

Yeah! That’s a fact!

Amongst other things I Am a Cat!

I’m a Catalyst in motion….

Move’n, strive’n, stroll’n, around the Tac!
Hilltopia to be exact!
And in the City of Destiny is where I’m at.

I Am a Cat!

I Am a Catalyst in motion….[click here to hear the complete poem]

Haioulanil is indeed a pivotal cat on the local art scene – one deserving of the Tacoma Arts Commission’s coveted accolade in the category of Community Outreach by an Artist. Equipped with a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the Evergreen State College-Tacoma, and two Associate degrees from Tacoma Community College, Haioulanil uses her communication skills to heighten awareness in the areas of community mobilization, conflict resolution and social justice through the medium of cultural enrichment events.

Haioulanil is CEO and founder of Free Ya Mind, Inc., working to promote public discussion between businesses, organizations and urban communities through the literary and visual arts. She has partnered with the Tacoma Art Museum and Washington State History Museum to provide educational outreach to underserved populations. Through partnerships in the Tacoma and Clover Park school districts, she has administered workshops that teach youth leadership, the gift of artistic expression, and the ability to think critically and develop effective communication skills. A filmmaker, writer and radio host/DJ, this powerhouse has also worked with some of the most celebrated spoken-word talent on the globe. Continue reading

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