GO Arts

Everything new on the walls, stage, screen and streets of Tacoma and South Puget Sound.

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Archives: June 2013


Critic’s Picks: Costa Rica oils in Puyallup, Aussie glass at Museum of Glass, native Northwest art at Washington State History Museum and Korean art at Tacoma Community College

Imaginary birds and more at Puyallup’s City Gallery

Puyallup oil painter Bonnie Miller shows abstract and figurative work at Puyallup’s Valley Arts United City Hall Gallery in “Farther: New Explorations in Imaginary Worlds.” The vividly-colored paintings include a series of imaginary birds inspired by a recent trip to Costa Rica. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday through Aug. 23. Free. Puyallup City Hall 5th floor, 333 S. Meridian Ave., Puyallup. bonniemillerart.wix.com, valleyartsunited.org

Aussie artist visits Museum of Glass

Australian artist Gabriella Bisetto will be the visiting artist at the Museum of Glass’ Hot this weekend. Lecturer at the University of South Australia, Bisetto’s work ranges from conceptual installations to delicately curved blown glass shapes. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. today and June 29, noon-5 p.m. June 30 with concluding lecture 4 p.m. June 30. $12 adults/$10 seniors, students, military/$5 ages 6-12/free for under-6. Museum of Glass, 1801 Dock St., Tacoma. 866-4-MUSEUM, museumofglass.org

“In the Spirit” at Washington State History Museum Read more »


Artist Ricco diStefano kicks off LeMay Marymount summer arts program with exhibit

Artist Ricco diStefano. Photo courtesy LeMay foundation.
Artist Ricco diStefano. Photo courtesy LeMay foundation.

The LeMay Family Collection Foundation has announced an expanded summer fine arts program at its Marymount campus, kicked off this weekend with the opening of an exhibition of work by Northwest painter Ricco diStefano. The opening preview will be from 5-7 p.m. this Saturday, including an artist reception.

From the press release: “The June 29 event represents a major public exhibition designed to raise awareness (and funds) for an increasingly rich and diverse fine arts program that includes a growing number of fine painting, sculpture and historic offerings ranging from classic Americana and iconic statuary installations to new works by local and world masters.”

Based on Tiger Mountain, Spokane-born artist di Stefano is influenced both by his forested studio and his training in graphic design and illustration, creating Northwest-based landscapes in a vivid, unique style. Exhibits include a recent co-exhibition with Northwest glass legend Dale Chihuly.

A portion of all sales from work at the preview will go to the foundation.

5-7 p.m. June 29. Free. LeMay Marymount Event Center, 325 152nd St. E., Tacoma. lemaymarymount.org Read more »


A banquet of tapestry on Tacoma’s hilltop: locals at Brick House Gallery, international work at the library’s Handforth Gallery

Cecilia Blomberg, "Birches." Photo courtesy Brick House Gallery.
Cecilia Blomberg, “Birches.” Photo courtesy Brick House Gallery.

There’s a banquet of tapestry on show right now in upper downtown Tacoma, both local and international, as the Tapestry Artists of Puget Sound and the American Tapestry Alliance annual shows coincide at Brick House Gallery and the Handforth  Gallery, just two blocks apart, and with a joint reception this Saturday afternoon.

It’s a smart time to check out both shows, which offer a wealth of tapestry in two and three dimensions, a myriad of fibers and a range of genres. The Handforth, located in the Tacoma Public Library main branch, has pretty broad opening hours, but Brick House is on third Thursdays and by appointment only. Since you can easily stroll down the hill from one to the other, the joint opening makes a golden opportunity to see both, and compare.

Left to right: Cecilia Blomberg, Margo Macdonald and Mary Lane collaboratively weave a tapestry. Photo courtesy Margo Macdonald.
Left to right: Cecilia Blomberg, Margo Macdonald and Mary Lane collaboratively weave a tapestry. Photo courtesy Margo Macdonald.

At Brick House there’s a chance to go deep into the art of several local tapestry artists in “TAPS: Contained.” Three of the biggest hitters are Cecilia Blomberg, Mary Lane and Margo Macdonald, and in fact one of the best works in the show is by all three: “Labyrinth,” tucked away in a side room, was woven by the three women side by side, with Macdonald in the center linking Blomberg’s and Lane’s very different styles. A tan labyrinth pattern floats abstractly over ripples of chartreuse, purple and teal – a mental labyrinth in an imagined forest. (The three women have also co-woven three works hanging near the elevators at Mary Bridge Children’s Health Center.)

Blomberg, Macdonald and Lane, "Labyrinth." Photo courtesy Brick House Gallery.
Blomberg, Macdonald and Lane, “Labyrinth.” Photo courtesy Brick House Gallery.

Also collaborative is the signature work “Contained” – a delightful pattern of color fields that in fact represent Tacoma’s shipping containers. Some are pure color – gold, ochre, red – others are patterned, one’s labeled ‘Hanjin.’ They’re lengthwise, end-on, a Tetris of industrial shape and color, juxtaposing a gritty subject with a soft, clean medium.

Blomberg, Lane and Macdonald each have other work in the show. The most striking is Blomberg’s “Birch Rolls,” nine pale white cotton strips some six inches wide and ten feet high, drifting down from the ceiling like skinny birch trunks and blowing slightly in curator Peter MacDonald’s fan breeze. He’s placed the right in front of the window, with lilacs offering a green background outside, and the effect is gorgeous – soft fiber creating its own space in nature. The rolls appear also at the Handforth, where Blomberg has rolled them up for a completely different effect – the detail of the gray-flecked weaving now transformed, the edges becoming a textured side themselves.

Read more »


Normanna Male Chorus of Tacoma hosts the 104th annual Sangerfest of all-male Norwegian choruses at Pacific Lutheran University

There aren’t too many musical traditions around here that go back 104 years, but the Sangerfest is one of them. An annual get-together of Norwegian male choirs from up and down the West Coast, the Sangerfest has been going since 1903 (with a few breaks) and this year the Normanna Male Chorus of Tacoma is the host choir, with a public choral concert this Friday at Pacific Lutheran University.

“The tradition of male chorus singing is very strong in Norway,” explains NMC director Jon Malmin. “Most villages have a chorus. And when the immigrants came over here they wanted to keep up that tradition.”

And they have. The 29-member Normanna Male Chorus is celebrating 125 years, having begun in 1888 as a Parkland chorus that later merged with a Tacoma chorus. And while the tradition used to be more widespread – at one point there were over 30 Norwegian male choruses in the region, Malmin says – there are still 11 Pacific Coast Norwegian Singers Association choruses, from Bellingham to San Diego, who’ll meet this week at PLU to sing and have fun. Read more »


Instagram your close-ups of the gritty city in Tacoma Art Museum’s #253 StreetArt Photo Contest

Think you take pretty good photos? Then get up real close to Tacoma’s gritty streets and enter some of your shots via Instagram in the Tacoma Art Museum’s #253 StreetArt Photo Contest. You might even win a museum membership for the year.

Inspired by Eric Carle, who, aside from his winsome tissue-paper collages of rubber ducks and brown bears for kids likes to shoot extreme close-ups of streetscapes, the contest is open to anyone with a photo device and internet access. Like Carle, cruise your neighborhood and find the abstract beauty in parking lot lines, drain grates, sidewalk cracks

Read more »


Critic’s picks: Cathedrals at Immanuel Presbyterian, Adams at Seattle Symphony and Art Museum, organ at Christ Episcopal and Tapestry in Tacoma

Christ Church noon organ recital

The Third Fridays at Noon recital series at Christ Episcopal continues today with Dana Robinson, organist and pianist from the University of Illinois, playing Bach, Buxtehude and Beethoven. 12:10 p.m. today. Entry by donation. Christ Episcopal Church, 310 North K St., Tacoma. 253-383-1569, ccptacoma.org

“Cathedrals” series rocks Immanuel Presbyterian

The next in Tacoma’s “Cathedrals” series of indie rock in acoustic venues features Denver folk group Paper Bird, Seattle singer Shenandoah Davis and Tacoma duo Elk and Boar (Travis Barker and Kirsten Wenlock), in the warm intimacy of Immanuel Presbyterian. 8 p.m. tonight. $16. Immanuel Presbyterian,

Read more »


Intense conviction, a long-overdue message: Tacoma finally gets “The Laramie Project,” thanks to Tacoma Little Theatre

From left: Jeremy Thompson, Russ Coffey and Mike Cooper in "The Laramie Project." Photo courtesy Tacoma Little Theatre.
From left: Jeremy Thompson, Russ Coffey and Mike Cooper in “The Laramie Project.” Photo courtesy Tacoma Little Theatre.

It seems unbelievable that 15 years after the brutal murder of Mathew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming – and 14 years after the play “The Laramie Project” exposed the aftermath and societal currents behind that murder – the Tacoma theater community is only just now getting a production of the play. This powerful sounding of how this small Wyoming town – and by extension, our whole society – dealt with extreme homophobia and violence has become one of America’s most produced plays, and a college staple (University of Puget Sound did a student show in 2003; Pacific Lutheran University did it in 2005; South Puget Sound Community College did the “Ten Years Later” epilogue in 2010). But the Tacoma Little Theatre production that’s closing this weekend (three more shows) is, according to director Brie Yost, a first for the Tacoma community as a whole – and as such, it’s both well done and long overdue.

“Laramie” isn’t an easy play, on many counts. It’s popular, yes, thanks to the multi-role, multi-member cast that gives especially students a broad shot at many characters, and obviously thanks to the message. Compiled from interviews, court records and experiences taken down by members of New York’s Tectonic Theater Project just months after Shepard, a gay student at the University of Wyoming, was brutally beaten, tied to a fence and left to die, it’s a grippingly honest piece of theater that, even 15 years later, asks disturbing questions.

But it’s that honesty that also makes it difficult, both for the actors who are at once asked to act and to confront their own reality and for the audience, who are confronted with all the failings of our society. With the nine actors playing up to 11 roles each in a script of monologues, it’s difficult to keep relationship and tension. And for the company itself, it’s apparently still a controversial programming choice in a town where many theaters rely on musicals for bread-and-butter. Yost says, in her notes, that a colleague warned her that “Tacoma is not ready for ‘The Laramie Project.’”

Well, if last Friday’s half-full house and post-show Q&A was anything to go by, Tacoma’s more than ready, and kudos to TLT for being the community theater that brings such a thoughtful production of “Laramie” to town. Read more »


Art outside the (book) box: Puget Sound Book Artists’ annual exhibit at the University of Puget Sound library challenges the whole idea of a book

Judy Lynn, "12th Jan. 2012" in the Puget Sound Book Artists' show at the Collins library at UPS. Photo: Rosemary Ponnekanti
Judy Lynn, “12th Jan. 2012″ in the Puget Sound Book Artists’ show at the Collins library at UPS. Photo: Rosemary Ponnekanti

If you think a book means cardboard covers and paper pages, then you need to head over to the Collins Memorial Library at the University of Puget Sound and have your horizons broadened. The Collins – which throughout the rest of the year hosts a swathe of visiting and local letterpress and book artists – is currently the venue for this year’s exhibit by 30 members of the Puget Sound Book Artists group, and the show continues to stretch the boundaries of creative materials, construction, binding and content.

A non-profit that links amateurs and professionals from all sections of the book art field, the PSBA offers year-round monthly meet-ups for workshops and or lectures. And it’s notjust for folks who live around Puget Sound: This year’s show features work by new members living in Oregon, New Mexico and Indiana.

As such, the show’s by no means even in quality – there’s stunning artistry by letterpress professionals like Chandler O’Leary (delicately watercolored horse prints in a cute little stitched pouch), by print artists like Dorothy McCuistion, Mark Hoppman (intensely textured pencil sketches in a large folio) and  and college instructors like co-curator Kathryn Govan. There’s also less skilled amateur work, which is nevertheless heartfelt and often innovative. Every work is different, and presents the concept of a book in a uniquely thought-out way. Read more »