How Tacoma collects art

14 Jan

Have you ever wondered how the City assembles its art collection? Who curates it? Who pays for it? Where can the art be seen on exhibit? This is the last in a series of posts highlighting portable artworks recently purchased by the City of Tacoma for the Municipal Art Collection.


“Long Journey” by MalPina Chan.

“This is the first time in over two decades that we have purchased any portable artwork for the collection,” says Naomi Strom-Avila, Cultural Arts Specialist for the City of Tacoma. Funds for the acquisition of public art for the Municipal Art Collection come from the City’s 1% for public art fund. “That means that 1% of construction costs for capital construction projects goes toward the construction or acquisition of public art,” she explains.

"Chamber Bay Ruins" by Michael Jardeen.

“Chambers Bay Ruins” by Michael Jardeen.

In the case of site-specific public art opportunities, the artists are chosen through a juried process in which a call to artists is issued, followed by a panel review of the applications. The panel may include Tacoma Arts Commission members, community representatives, site users, and others. The jurors narrow down the field to 3 to 5 finalists, interview those finalists, and select the artist for the project.

However, in the case of the Portable Works collection, “The panel started with images of 566 pieces of artwork and narrowed that down to 78 pieces for a second review. Those 78 pieces were brought in for the panel to see in person. Then the panel narrowed those pieces down to the final 20 pieces selected for purchase.

After the selection the City’s arts program staff goes to work to determine where to site the pieces, assessing what locations currently do not have artwork, or which could use an updated piece. All of the work goes into City buildings, and all of the pieces are sited in publicly accessible areas.

* * * * *

In Long Journey (above top), Olympia artist MalPina Chan presents a chapter of family history upon a fiery background design derived from an Imperial robe. “This print features an image of my father and his health certificate, issued before he set sail for America to a new life.”

Photograph from "Blue Midnight" series by Victoria Bjorklund.

Photograph from “Blue Midnight” series by Victoria Bjorklund.

Chambers Bay Ruins, a photograph by Michael Jardeen (above right) transforms modern concrete “ruins” into a visual feast in golden-hued sepia.

Photographer Victoria Bjorklund covered the night beat in Tacoma in a series of images entitled Blue Midnight. The artist says she was “inspired by film noir” as she photographed the city after hours.

"Porous #39" by Eunice Kim.

“Porous #39” by Eunice Kim.

Eunice Kim is a Ravensdale, WA-based artist who works exclusively in the medium of collagraph printing. She has developed a unique process of using sustainable, non-toxic techniques.
“Porous #39 comprises small, repetitive dot marks that are building blocks of my imagery and speak to the manner in which individual entities come together, coalesce and coexist.”

* * * * *

The City of Tacoma’s Municipal Art Collection is composed of more than 200 works of art. You can see other recently acquired portable artworks here:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: