Welcome to the Twelve Tacoma Artist Gifts of Christmas!
Inspired by both the “Twelve Days of Christmas” song and fellow features writer Sue Kidd, who’s offering you her own “Twelve Tacoma Foodie Gifts of Christmas” on her TNT Diner blog, I’ve come up with 12 alternative gifts for Christmas: no partridges in pear trees, but something a lot more uniquely local. So what’s Tacoma known for, creatively? Here’s a hint: It’s not generic Northwest Native American salmon designs or anything resembling Dale Chihuly, who lives in Seattle and markets internationally.
No, what makes the Tacoma arts scene special is the gritty or the unusual: graffiti murals, letterpress books, indie rock, rain-soaked poetry, films that laugh at local stereotypes, weirdly-shaped blown glass, sumi-e tea bag painting, theater or opera or classical music that tweaks your expectations in high-quality ways, jewelry made of insects or bones. If you’re going to buy someone a local, artist-made gift, you ought to look at this list for inspiration (except, maybe, the graffiti).
So here’s my take on the Twelve Days of Christmas gift list, inspired by art made in the 253. And it even scans like the original. Just please don’t sing it over and over again.
Disclaimer: Yes, I am fully aware that the traditional twelve days of Christmas refers, in fact, to the 12-day period from December 25 to January 6, or Epiphany, when the Wise Men arrived to present the original Christmas gifts to the infant Jesus. But hey, if I published this list beginning on Christmas Day that wouldn’t exactly give you a lot of shopping time now, would it?
So here’s day 1: On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: A deck of Tacoma playing cards.
Recently launched by new company Tacoma Makes after a successful Kickstarter.com fundraiser, these cards feature art by 14 Tacoma artists from Art Chantry (a tombstone for Rockin’ Robin Roberts), Beautiful Angle (the Murray Morgan bridge poster), Shaun Peterson (two Native American faces) and more, showing local iconic locations from the Java Jive to the Narrows Bridge. Only $20, and you have a gift that’ll sell Tacoma AND give your friends some fun on a winter evening. Can’t beat that. $20 from local retailers like the LeMay and Tacoma Art Museum, Throwing Mud Gallery, the Pacific Northwest Shop and more. tacomamakes.com