Tag Archives: South Tacoma


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.

STAR Center Photo Contest: Focus on South Tacoma

17 Mar

The finishing touches are being put on the new South Tacoma Activity and Recreation (STAR) Center opening May 19, and Metro Parks’ photo contest could put your photos on the walls. The STAR Center is a state-of-the-art, 32,000 square foot complex designed by Miller Hull Architects in Seattle. This $16 million, regional recreational showcase is part of a 75-acre community complex shared by Metro Parks Tacoma in partnership with Gray Middle School and the Boys and Girls Club. The eco-designed Star Center offers a music/yoga/dance studio, a teaching kitchen, fitness rooms, a dynamic indoor/outdoor children’s playground and a rental hall. The urban campus will welcome people of all ages and abilities to connect, explore, stay active and have fun. The top 3 photographic entries will be professionally matted and framed for exhibition at the grand opening of the STAR Center! The winning photographers will also be awarded prizes.

"Ole 99," a sculpture by Fritz Church. Photo: Dave Davison

Unfamiliar with South Tacoma? Cruise the area between S. 38th and S. 70th on S. Tacoma Way to find interesting historic sites and public art (the official boundaries of South Tacoma are Center St., I-5, 80th St. and Orchard St.). This gutsy neighborhood has muscle-car showrooms, fascinating 19th-century cemeteries (many of the city’s founders are buried here) and traces of the industrial and railroad shops the area is known for. Artist Mary Mann‘s bucolic 1998 mural in the back lot of the Heritage Bank at S. 47th and S. Tacoma Way looks as fresh as the day it was finished, and it remains one of the best examples of mural painting in the whole city. A very old railroad trestle at 66th and Adams serves as an impromptu memorial canvas, and it is periodically painted with artful tributes to community members who have passed. Also at S. 47th and S. Tacoma Way is Fritz Church‘s sculpture, Ole 99, a wonderfully rangy, life-size horse made of iron – a clever reference to the “iron horse” locomotives that rolled through South Tacoma a century ago. There’s lots of material here – good luck! Continue reading

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