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Free Arts Month: A vertical garden and painted murals in the South End

Post by Rosemary Ponnekanti / The News Tribune on Jan. 31, 2011 at 12:37 pm with No Comments »
January 30, 2011 9:55 pm
Patrick Blanc at the living garden wall at Goodwill. Photo: Janet Jensen, staff.

Well, it’s my last day of Free Arts Month! It’s taken a lot of effort, so I’m not sad that I’m stopping my expedition to take in a free arts event every day. But while it’s tiring, it can definitely be done, and I hope that if you’ve been following me you now realize just how much free stuff is out there, and where it is.

Today being Monday it was a good day to see public art, and there’s much more of it in Tacoma than I’ve covered already. But some of the best has gone up within the last year: a vertical garden in the Warehouse district and some painted murals in the South End.

First, the garden. Hanging on a wall outside Goodwill’s administrative building on South Jefferson, the enormous wall of plants was designed by the internationally famous Patrick Blanc, joining similar living murals in Sydney, Paris, Madrid and more. And yes, I think it’s art. The colors and textures run in strong diagonals, contrasting yet flowing; the sound of water drips reassuringly onto the rocks below like a minimalist composition. Think of it as vertical Maya Lin, but more baroque.

Then you can embark on a self-drive tour of a mural project that went up last summer, thanks to City of Tacoma. Driven by half-a-dozen professional artists, each mural was painted by a team of artists learning the ropes of mural-making, and each was designed to fit in with and enhance the local neighborhood.

Joan Joachims and team, Retaining Wall mural. Courtesy photo.

From Goodwill you can drive down Center Street and turn left at South M Street. Just after you go under I-5 you can spot Joan Joachims’ mural on the right – a hillside of cute goats, along with a toy train.

From there turn left at South  Street; when you get to Portland Avenue you can head left for the Portland Avenue Park restrooms,

Portland Avenue Park restrooms, various artists. Courtesy photo.

which are now highly painted all around with flying turtles, cartoon people and the like, or turn right to see Chris Sharp’s wall, full of hope and flowing graffiti, on the west side just before the old Swan Creek library.

Chris Sharp and team, Retaining Wall mural. Courtesy photo.

After that it’s a long drive down to South 84th and Park Avenue, where Kelda Martenson’s huge sky-blue building wall tells a neighborhood story of business and tourism in vintage postcard fashion.

Kelda Martenson and team, Fern Hill mural. Courtesy photo.

Head back up to South 56th and turn left; you can catch both Rachel Dotson’s transport-based mural on the Heritage Bank wall (turn right at South Tacoma Way,) and the Fab-5 team’s long painted journey from gloom to hope on the side of the St. Vincent de Paul building further along South 56th.

Rachel Dotson and team, Heritage Bank mural. Courtesy photo.
Fab-5 mural. Courtesy photo.

Here are all the addresses. Goodwill Milgard Center, 714 S. 27th St., Tacoma; Street wall near I-5 underpass, 3200 S. M St; Portland Avenue Park restrooms, 3513 Portland Ave; Street wall, 3806 E. Portland Ave; Foam and Fabric building, 8328 Park Ave; Heritage Bank building, 5436 South Tacoma Way; St. Vincent de Paul building, 4009 S. 56th St.

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