Old Town and the Proctor District have a gallery each plus several murals reflecting the character of each place, and they’re always free.
At Old Town’s Sandpiper Gallery, a show of arty purses was on its last day. Chris Wooten wove ironic baskets shaped like body parts, Elayne Vogel hung natty birdhouses from cords and Di Morgan-Graves sculpted papier-maché in a magic purple mushroom, a golden egg and a giant olive. After this it’ll be landscape photographs by owners Cordy and Judy Wagner until the next art show goes up. 2221 N. 30th St., Tacoma. Open noon-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday. 253-627-6667
Murals there include historic depictions of old Tacoma, plus Mary Mann’s portrait of Job Carr guarding the Tully’s wall.
Up at Proctor Art Gallery the atmosphere’s more crowded and commercial, with painting like Carolyn Burt’s misty watercolors and Sharon Carr’s giant flowers, and art jewelry by Joni Joachims. You also get to talk to artists working in the shop. 3811 N. 26th St., Tacoma. 253-759-4238, www.proctorartgallery.com
My kids love the Proctor salmon mural on the Radio Shack corner at North 26th Street. Painted by Alexis St. John (with a heron hovering hungrily) it’s whimsical, a contrast to Rachel Dotson’s gorgeous Art Nouveau farmers’ market produce gracing the north wall of Teaching Toys on North 27th Street.
Where am I going this week for free arts? Speak Your Soul open mic, downtown galleries, concerts at Seymour Conservatory and in Old Town, the UPS library and Lakewood Playhouse. If you’re interested, there also a free Seattle Opera event from 1-4 p.m. Jan. 8 at McCaw Hall, Seattle Center, centering around their current production of “The Barber of Seville”: Expect to hear “Largo al factotum” (the Figaro-Figaro-Figaro aria) while stylists furiously cut hair, listen to an a cappella doo-wop group or tour backstage.