Tag Archives: Public Art

Now showing artTown Episode 10

25 Jan

The City of Tacoma’s Media and Communications Office – in partnership with the Office of Arts & Cultural Vitality – has released a new episode of artTown, a cultural documentary-style TV initiative exploring Tacoma’s emergence as a major creative hub in the Pacific Northwest.

In this episode:

  • Explore the public art inside and outside at People’s Community Center that is helping preserve and share the history of the Hilltop community
  • Learn how the City of Tacoma’s Artist in Residence, Roni Chelben, worked to engage the community through theater, video, and conversations around the causes, challenges and possible approaches to addressing homelessness
  • Meet poet Kevin Miller and learn how his dog Scout has helped him be more observant and grow as an artist
  • Catch Will Jordan and Joe Edwards as they chat about habits for creative growth, artistic integrity, and their own musical journeys

Launched in 2013, the series has earned numerous awards and features diverse perspectives on a variety of creative disciplines. Offering a more holistic look at creativity in Tacoma, artTown stretches beyond what people might traditionally think of as “creative” – such as fine art, music or dance – to spotlight other creative areas of interest that have flourished in Tacoma like fashion, innovative education practices, socially-engaged work and more.

Online viewing:
Watch “artTown” anytime at cityoftacoma.org/artTown

Watch segments or the full episode anytime on the City of Tacoma’s YouTube Channel

TV Tacoma air times:
Mondays at noon
Tuesdays at 1 AM
Wednesdays at 8 AM
Thursdays at 6 PM
Fridays at 8 PM
Saturdays at 5 PM
Sundays at 5 AM

TV Tacoma is aired on both the Click! and Comcast Cable systems. On Click!, TV Tacoma can be seen on Channel 12 within Tacoma City limits and in Pierce County, with the exception of University Place, where TV Tacoma can be found on Channel 21. On Comcast, TV Tacoma can be seen on Channel 12 within Tacoma city limits and on Channel 21 in Pierce County. TV Tacoma is not on the Comcast system in University Place, but is accessible anywhere on the Internet at tvtacoma.com.


21 Oct

WAY by Sheila Klein. Photo by Abby Kok.

Art is everywhere you look in Tacoma and sometimes in places you’d least expect it, like WAY, created by public artist Sheila Klein.

WAY by Sheila Klein spans South Tacoma Way. Photo by Abby Kok.

WAY draws attention to the heart of the historic South Tacoma Business District, emphasizing the crosswalks at 54th and 56th Streets in this busy thoroughfare. Two strings of obstruction markers drape the street, acting as pearl necklaces. Oversized finials cap light posts painted with ellipses.

This project is the result of collaboration between multiple community and artistic partners. Sheila conducted extensive research and collected community input on the area and environs. Her husband and public artist, Ries Niemi, fabricated the finials and collars and led the installation process. Abby Kok and Chris Sharp, both Tacoma-based artists, assisted the project with painting, photography, and installation help.

View of South Tacoma Way with WAY in background. Photo by Abby Kok.

WAY was installed in spring 2018 and was generously funded through a partnership with State Farm and Local Initiatives Support Corporation as part of their community revitalization efforts. Additional funding was provided by the South Tacoma Business District through a City of Tacoma Innovative Grant.

About Sheila Klein

Sheila Klein, visual artist, straddles the worlds of art and architecture. Klein has been called “chief retranslater of everyday objects and a manipulator of familiar and archetypal images.” She is making the world as she sees it one piece at a time, constructing a pillow or a planet. Klein uses a brilliant combination of materials to propose solutions to the homogenization of our environment. The range of her output occurs in the studio, on the street, and in art institutions.

Klein has exhibited widely at such diverse organizations as P.S.1, Institute for Art and Urban Studies in New York, Memory and Lands of the 20th Century in Florence, Italy, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Museum of Art and Design, New York, New York and La Foret Museum in Tokyo, Japan. Klein’s work has been widely published in art journals and the mainstream media such as the New York Times, Times of India and National Public Radio. She is the youngest artist included in the book 50 Northwest Artists.

She practiced architecture in the early 80’s as a member of the award winning architecture firm group A2Z. Klein has been actively involved in public art since 1977 when she was awarded multiple commissions. Among her well known civic projects are the air traffic control tower at the LAX, a subway station called Underground Girl in Hollywood, a light structure in the underpass leading into Santa Monica on Pico Blvd, and Leopard Sky, Houston,Texas. Her projects have received multiple national awards.

Klein first lived in the Skagit Valley in 1976 and returned in 1995, where she lives on a farm in Edison with her artist husband Ries Niemi and sons Rebar and Torque.

Sheila Klein wants to dress the world, the world is her studio.

‘Children’s Bell’ Rings Again

11 Aug
"Children's Bell" sculpture by Larry Anderson

“Children’s Bell” sculpture by Larry Anderson

What: “Children’s Bell” Rededication
Where: park area at 3825 Ruston Way
When: Thursday, August 28, 2 – 3 pm
Cost: Free!

The public is invited to celebrate the reinstallation of “Children’s Bell” by Larry Anderson on Aug. 28, from 2 – 3 p.m., in the park at 3825 Ruston Way. Anderson will be present at this event, along with Council Member David Boe, representatives from Washington Partnerships for Action Voices for Empowerment (PAVE), and members of the Tacoma Arts Commission.

The sculpture was commissioned as a gift to the citizens of Tacoma from PAVE and other private donors to celebrate the life, spirit and accomplishments of PAVE founder and director Marty Gentili (May 26, 1942 – Feb. 28, 1993).

“We are delighted the bell is home again for all to play,” said PAVE Executive Director Tracy Kahlo. “It reminds us of the importance to celebrate the gifts of all children while honoring the life of Marty. We greatly appreciate the combined efforts of the City of Tacoma and the Tacoma Arts Commission for restoring the bell for all to enjoy.”

The “Children’s Bell” was originally installed along Ruston Way and gifted to the City in 2000. The cast bronze sculpture measures over five feet tall and is decorated with a parade of children around the border. It was designed to be rung and accessible by people with disabilities.

The sculpture was removed from Ruston Way in 2011 to allow for structural and cosmetic repairs and work on the surrounding site. The City reinstalled the sculpture and completed restoration work in 2014.

PAVE provides support, advocacy, training and informational resources to empower families and individuals with disabilities. Since 1979, PAVE has provided information, training and support for over 1,000,000 individuals with disabilities, parents and professionals.

Anderson resides in Bonney Lake and is a prolific bronze sculptor whose sculptural work can be seen throughout Tacoma and across the United States.

Dedicated to Public Art

6 Nov

Sedum plants blanket this sculpture’s 6ft. diam. canopy which is insulated with roofgarden materials.

What: Dedication of Sempervivum
Where: STAR Center, 3873 S. 66th Street, Journey Hall
When: November 10, 2 pm
Cost: Free

Inspired by the natural history of Metro Parks’ STAR Center, Tacoma’s newest public art piece, Sempervivum by local artist Lisa Kinoshita, will receive its formal dedication on November 10. The Tacoma Arts Commission and Metro Parks invites anyone who is interested in learning more about this piece to meet the artist at this free, public event.

“My outdoor art installation pays tribute to the wetlands that existed in the area during its early-20th century heyday,” said Kinoshita. “This sculpture trilogy seeks to link the past to the future, celebrates South Tacoma’s fascinating natural heritage and highlights the sensitive balance between humans and their surroundings.”

Botanist Keith Shawe and fabricator Quinn Honan break ground for the Sempervivum sculptures at the STAR Center. Photo courtesy of Metro Parks.

Sempervivum, Latin for ever + living, consists of three large forms combining steel, live plants, and green roof technology, and pays homage to the natural history of STAR Center’s site. The area, which originally was covered by extensive wetlands, was home to elk and flocks of migratory waterfowl and was affectionately known as “The South Tacoma Swamp”. But, as the region industrialized and became an important commercial link for the railroads, the wetlands were filled in.

“It has been rewarding to work with the City of Tacoma’s Arts Program on this project, helping to increase public art opportunities for Tacoma artists and to increase art in our parks for everyone to enjoy,” said Tareena Joubert, manager of Cultural and Community Services for Metro Parks. “Lisa has been a delight to work with and her zest to create amazing and meaningful artwork for this community is impressive.”

Sempervivum, a $25,000 commission, was made possible through a partnership between Metro Parks and the City of Tacoma’s Public Art: In Depth (PA:ID) program which trained a group of professional Tacoma artists on best practices and provided hands-on experience for working in public art. Artists in the PA:ID program had the opportunity to compete for public art projects with Metro Parks, Sound Transit and the City of Tacoma. Continue reading

PA:ID Featured Artist: Ed Kroupa

26 Jul

Ed Kroupa has been involved in the fine arts field for over fifteen years, dabbling in the areas of fabrication, sculpture, drawing and more.  He is the co-owner of Two Ravens Studio, which opened in Tacoma in 2008.

Ed holds a professional background in prop creation using the techniques of wax casting process, mold making, vacuum forming, and resins.  His work is displayed in both the US and in England, and can even be seen in Disney theme parks!

Site: Thea Foss Waterway Public Esplanade

Esplanade site, between S. 14th and S. 15th streets. Photo by Ed Kroupa

In 1983 the Environmental  Protection Agency declared the Thea Foss Waterway a Superfund site. In 1994, the City of Tacoma took the lead in developing a clean-up plan for Thea Foss and Wheeler Osgood Waterways.  Since, from 2002-2006, approximately 425,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediments were taken from the waterways and capped with clean sediments.  The City restored the shoreline to a more natural function, reintroducing native aquatic vegetation and natural beach areas that provide access to Tacoma’s urban waterfront.

 The area that Ed will transform is the sandy area on Esplanade between S. 14th and S. 15th streets, in front of the private housing development “The Esplanade” at 1515 Dock Street.  The site was originally designed as a volleyball court but, due to low usage, the court will be removed, leaving an expansive sandy area just begging for an interactive art piece.   

Q &A with Ed Kroupa

Can you give me some background on yourself and how you got into this career?
I grew up in the small town of Ridgecrest, located in Southern California. I took an interest in drawing at an early age and began taking as many different kinds of art classes as my mom would sign me up for. My mom also fostered my art interest at home as we often spent time doing craft and ceramic projects together. After dabbling in photography, ceramics, painting, pottery and other art related subjects, I set my sights on having a career as an illustrator and took several drawing and drafting classes to get myself prepared for working in that field.

When I thought I was ready, I gathered up my best work and approached a company in town that had a large Illustration department hoping to get my foot in the door. They liked my work but informed me that they did not have an opening in that department at that time. They did however offer me a position in their Drafting department with the intent on having me transfer to the Illustration department as soon as an opening came up. So I became a draftsman. The company’s contract was for the Naval Weapons Center and I soon found myself drafting plans for numerous missile systems.

I remained in the Drafting department for four years. After a series of life events, I found my way to the Northwest. Some old high school classmates of mine offered me a job at an effects shop they had been running in Shelton, WA. The job involved making props and displays for movies and theme parks. Based on my past education, work history and friendship with them, I soon found the next step in my art career. I stayed with the effects company for about six years sculpting and fabricating for broadcast, motion picture, theme park, and other projects in the entertainment industry.

When it was time to move on, I looked around for something that would benefit from my past work history and found The Bronze Works. The Bronze Works was a bronze art foundry located in Shelton. I stayed with them in Shelton till their move to Tacoma and worked my way up the chain to become the department head for their mold and wax departments as well as being the lead person on all of their sculptural enlargement projects. While working there I was asked to create several original sculptures for clients.

The Bronze Works stayed open until 2009. When they were in the process of closing I teamed up with two other former employees, Katrina Toft and Mike Haney, and formed Two Ravens Studios. We started out making molds and resin castings in our partner’s mom’s garage. The intent was to eventually offer traditional artisan foundry work as well as design original sculptures and continue with the resin work. After some talks with the old foundry owner we were able to acquire the equipment needed to start our own foundry. We soon were approached by other artists and asked if we would create their work in bronze, aluminum, resin, and plastic composites. In 2010, Two Ravens Studio moved into its downtown Tacoma location and started its furnaces in 2011. We have been growing ever since and taking on large projects.

What are some of your previous projects that you have been most proud of and why?
One of my favorite projects was through the Public Art: In Depth program. I was asked to do a temporary art installation in a location of my choice. I called my temporary project “Life.” The installation took place at the Garfield Gulch Bayside Trailhead. Over the course of an evening I transformed a grassy open space (adjacent to the Trailhead,) with balloon forms containing glow sticks. These balloon forms represented the building blocks of life. My goal was to bring attention to this unused area at night by lighting it up with “life.”

“Life” temporary art installation. Photo by Ed Kroupa.

What was your initial reaction when you were selected to create a public art piece for the Esplanade, and what is your reaction to the site you will be working on?
I was elated that I was chosen to be the lead artist and have been considering several possibilities for the area. During my initial explorations of the Esplanade, I was taken in by the way the sandy area resembled an infinity pool, giving the viewer the illusion that they could walk across a “beach” and right into the Waterway. 

Do you have any preliminary thoughts about what you will make in the space?
Ultimately what I hope to accomplish is give people a reason to step off the walkway and interact with the art and the space. I’d like to include recycled materials with foundry cast elements to be able to create a substantial piece for the location. As a Tacoma resident and artist I feel a strong connection to the coastal area and its aquatic life inspires me greatly. So this is likely to influence my design of the artwork for the Esplanade.

%d bloggers like this: