GO Arts

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

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Category: free events


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

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Summer fun at the Tacoma libraries begins Saturday with Bakra Bata

It’s summer – and anyone with kids knows what that means. Nearly 12 weeks of either camp or daycare (which can get expensive), or else becoming your child’s unpaid, unappreciated personal entertainment manager. Luckily the Tacoma Public Library is here to help and save your sanity. The library’s annual Summer Reading Program comes with a slew of free concerts, activities and fun stuff that’s good for both boredom and budget. Plus kids can sign up to read and potentially win prizes.

The program kicks off this Saturday with Bakra Bata, a steel drum and percussion ensemble that draws from the root traditions of trans-Atlantic cultures. Banging, hitting and grooving, they’ll play at 11 a.m. (Wheelock branch, 3722 N. 26th St), and 2 p.m. (Moore branch, 215 S. 56th St.)

This Saturday also sees a show by wacky music quartet Locust Street Taxi, at 1 p.m. (Main Branch, 1102 Tacoma Ave. S.) Read more »


Tacoma’s BQDanza brings giant puppets to Art on the Fly, kicking off the Seattle International Dance Festival this weekend

A dancer in puppet costume plays with Naomi Jacobsen at a PLU rehearsal. Photo: Rosemary Ponnekanti
Avalon Ragoonannan, wearing a bride puppet, dances with Naomi Jackobson at BQ Danza’s rehearsal for Art on the Fly. Photo: Rosemary Ponnekanti


Question: Where can you see giant wearable puppets, audience-controlled marionettes, a Bollywood flash mob and national champion breakdancers all in one day?

Answer: At Art on the Fly, the free outdoor kick-off dance event for Seattle’s International Dance Festival. Art on the Fly happens from noon-9 p.m. this Saturday on Terry Avenue in South Lake Union; while the festival runs June 14-23 and involves emerging and established companies from the Northwest and around the world.

But it’s Art on the Fly, though, that involves Tacoma group BQDanza, headed up by our own choreographer Carla Barragan, who is bringing back 14-foot-high Peruvian Paway puppets in a roving performance they’ve been practicing this week on campus at Pacific Lutheran University.

“It’s improvisation…the moment it’s happening it’s just enjoyment (for the dancers),” explains Barragan, as she watches her troupe of five cavort with passers-by in the PLU courtyards. “The performers love interacting with the audience. And mostly the audiences are very respectful, and join in. The hard part is rehearsals, getting it together behind the scenes.”

Along the campus’ shady walkways, the figures stroll like a Diego Rivera painting come to life. Read more »


Sharing tunes: See world cultures and local performers at this year’s Northwest Folklife Festival in Seattle this weekend

Olympia Celtic band Loch Dhu, playing at Folklife this weekend. Photo courtesy Julie Bennett.
Olympia Celtic band Loch Dhu, playing at Folklife this weekend. Photo courtesy Julie Bennett.

For many folk around Puget Sound (and further afield), Memorial Weekend means one thing: the Northwest Folklife Festival. The free festival, now in its 42nd year, celebrates all things folk: music, dancing, poetry and art from as many cultures as you can think of. But it’s not just a draw for the crowds who come to listen and watch – it attracts plenty of local performers who want to be part of one of the biggest folk festivals in the country. Among them are Olympia bands Sunshine and Irony, The Shivas, Grizzle Grazzle, plus a couple of Oly fisherman poets and more – and what they like best about Folklife is the chance to meet and share with other performers.

“It’s exciting, it’s fun,” explains Julie Bennett, a percussionist with no less than four Oly-based bands playing this year’s Folklife: Celtic band Loch Dhu, the Contra Quartet and Olympia Volunteer String Band (both contradance bands) and a pick-up brass marching band. “It’s an opportunity to meet other musicians and share music we know, whether it’s common tunes or new ones.”

And the way that happens is behind the scenes at jam sessions. Before, after and between the many, many scheduled stage performances at Folklife are the jam sessions, where musicians – who all volunteer their time to perform – just play together and have fun. Read more »


Brighten your neighborhood with the Tacoma Murals Project

Hope Heights mural at 6323 McKinley Ave., by Joni Joachims with Kate Cendejas, Brian Hutcheson, Yvette Simone, Chelsea O'Sullivan, Janice Lee Warren. Courtesy photo.
Hope Heights mural at 6323 McKinley Ave., by Joni Joachims with Kate Cendejas, Brian Hutcheson, Yvette Simone, Chelsea O’Sullivan, Janice Lee Warren. Courtesy photo.

If your neighborhood could use some inspiration or TLC, now’s the time to apply for a mural from the City of Tacoma’s Murals Project. Offered by the city to combat blight and vandalism, the project sends teams of professional and student artists into neighborhoods to talk with local groups, come up with a mural that represents the area, and paint it this summer onto a wall.

“These community-based murals have proven to be positive community catalysts, bringing neighbors together, helping them find common voices, and enlivening areas that were previously neglected,” said Tacoma arts administrator Amy McBride in a press release. “It is inspiring to see how artists have been able to work within each community to develop murals that are unique and responsive to the characteristics, stories, history and future of each neighborhood.”

The project has been going for four years now, and great examples include the Portland Avenue community building, the man-in-the-moon playground at Bergerson Terrace (5301 S. Orchard St.), the giant Fern Hill postcard at South 84th Street and Park Avenue, and the flying balloons at 220 Puyallup Avenue. Read more »


Critic’s picks: Tacoma Art Museum free festival, Vashon Island art studio tour, medieval music at Revels and Brass Unlimited’s Pops at Tacoma Community College

TAM free festival and paper installation

Celebrate Tacoma Art Museum’s 10th birthday in its new Pacific Avenue building with a free community festival tomorrow. Activities include a community paper art installation and more. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. May 4. Free. Tacoma Art Museum, 1701 Pacific Ave., Tacoma. 253-272-4258, tacomaartmuseum.org

Vashon Art Studio Tour

Vashon Island’s many artists open up their doors this and next weekend in the annual spring studio tour. The self-guided driving tour is free and features 23 studios in media including blown glass, jewelry, woodwork, candles, pottery, tile and mosaic, sculpture, prints and painting. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. May 4-5, 11-12. Free. For maps see vashonislandartstudiotour.com or most island businesses. For ferry schedules see wsdot.wa.gov/ferries.

Medieval music at the Revels Salon Read more »


Sherman Alexie reads and signs new book “Blasphemy” at Urban Grace

blasphemy cover art“Blasphemy” in a church? Well, yes, if it’s Sherman Alexie‘s new book.

The acclaimed Washington writer comes to Tacoma’s Urban Grace Church next Tuesday, reading from and signing his latest book of bitingly candid short stories, “Blasphemy” in a free public event organized by the Tacoma Public Library.

A collection that Publisher’s Weekly called “glimpses into a harried and conflicted humanity” with “plenty of bawdiness and Alexie’s signature wicked humor,” “Blasphemy” was released in October last year and instantly made the top-books lists in Kirkus Review, the New York Times and NPR. In 30 short stories Alexie covers contemporary issues like racism, addiction and infidelity with his usual candor and sharp wit, ranging from road-trip morality tales to lethal wind-turbines, from Asian manicure salons to donkey basketball leagues, from homeless Indians to hearing loss.

Born in 1966 to a Coeur d’Alene father and Spokane Indian mother, Alexie grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation and has had an award-winning 20-year career publishing 20 books of adult and young adult novels as well as short stories. He lives in Seattle. Read more »


Celebrated opera baritone Sherill Milnes comes to Tacoma for public talks, workshop and fundraiser for Tacoma Opera’s Young Artist program

Opera fans, rejoice: Sherill Milnes is coming to town. No, not to sing – the former opera superstar’s heyday was in the last quarter of the 20th century, and it was a big one, ranging over almost every baritone role in the repertoire and every major house on several continents. But Milnes will be giving four public events: one this Saturday at a interview meet-and-greet fundraiser for Tacoma Opera’s Young Artist program, free one-hour talks at both the University of Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran University next Monday, and a vocal workshop Monday night at UPS.


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