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.”
City Arts-Tacoma premiered in 2006; separate editions covering the Eastside and Seattle followed. In 2009, the Tacoma Arts Commission lauded City Arts-Tacoma with an AMOCAT Award in the Arts Patron category. The citation recognized its dedication “to building and supporting an engaged placed to live. City Arts does it by turning the spotlight on the organizations and individuals who contribute to the fabric of the creative community; the world-class museums, the renowned sculptor, a boutique designer, and the independent musician. The pages are filled with stories of arts intersecting with the everyday. They are easy to fill, and hard to contain.”
Budgetary belt tightening has recently caused the magazine’s publisher, Seattle-based Encore Media Group, to mesh the three separate magazines into one. But the arts in Tacoma shine on!
Enjoy past stories in our 10-in-10 Series:
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)