GO Arts

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Category: free events


Spoken word artist and activist Walida Imarisha performs at UPS with Fab-5 crew


Walidah Imarisha. Courtesy photo.
Walidah Imarisha. Courtesy photo.

Walidah Imarisha, a spoken word artist, educator, writer, and innovative voice on issues of youth and justice, will perform with the Fab-5 artistic youth group next Thursday, April 25, at the University of Puget Sound.

The performance is free.

Imarisha, a teacher in Portland State University’s Black Studies Department, Oregon State University’s women’s studies program and Southern New Hampshire University’s English department, will address how educational systems often alienate youth through a hidden racism.

“Students feel marginalized, silenced, invisibilized, demonized, criminalized, without that being said explicitly,” Imarisha told UPS Professor Dexter Gordon in a recent interview. “They’re not learning about themselves and everything they do learn about themselves is negative. Many young, brilliant folks have dropped out of school because they were saving their spirits. And we have to see that as a survival tactic.”

Fab-5 is a Tacoma youth organization that offers creative outlets for underserved urban youth, including DJing, spoken word and writing, breakdancing and visual art. Read more »


“Look Here” one-night art salon of Tacoma art next week on the Hilltop

If you don’t look now, “Look Here” will be gone. A salon-style art exhibition featuring 14 Tacoma visual artists, “Look Here” is a one-night art stand in a temporary space on Earnest S. Brazill Street in Tacoma’s Hilltop, happening next Thursday.

The brainchild of artist Victoria Johnson, the salon features work by Johnson herself as well as Bill Colby, Lynn Di Nino, Karen Doten, Kristin Giordano, Lisa Kinoshita, Janet Marcavage, Yuki Nakamura, Nicholas Nyland, Frederic Quinn, Betty Sapp Ragan, William Turner, Emily Wood and Otto Youngers, and ranges over sculpture, printmaking, painting, ceramics, photography and mixed media.

Says Johnson: “Artists

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Glass squid and octopi adorn the new Mary Bridge expansion in downtown Tacoma


Greg Piercy with the new floats installation by Hilltop Artists at Multicare. Photo: Rosemary Ponnekanti
Greg Piercy with the new floats installation by Hilltop Artists at Multicare. Photo: Rosemary Ponnekanti

The Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital expansion – atop MultiCare’s new regional cancer center buildings and the emergency section of Mary Bridge and Tacoma General – isn’t open to the public yet, but the art’s already there, brightening the corridors and waiting rooms with glass sea-life in vivid tangerines and limes. And I was lucky enough yesterday to get a sneak peek at the installations by Jennevieve Schlemmer and the non-profit Hilltop Artists glass program.

The HART installation is interesting in two ways: It’s art made by kids for kids, with ongoing interactions planned; and it’s also visible from the outside. Lining the north windows of the 6th and 7th floor skyway bridges connecting the front building on Martin Luther King Jr. Way and the back building on South J Street are 1,400 glass floats, blown by the skilled, hardworking HART students at Jason Lee Middle School. You can see it from the alley just beside the emergency drop-off (but you’ll have to walk underneath the skybridge to see the north window, as the south one was left clear to preserve the views of Mt. Rainier). Gelato-hued floats pile up like bubbles inside an aquarium: cool blues and greens on the lower floor, warm lemons, limes, tangerines and berry colors on the upper.

But the best part can only be seen by the hospital’s young patients and staff. Up close you realize that every so often the glassblowers (at Wilson High, this time) have popped an exquisitely-blown squid or octopus inside a float, so the whole installation goes from abstract beauty to a “Where’s Waldo?” treasure hunt for viewers. Read more »


Lucas Smiraldo is Tacoma’s new Poet Laureate; will read at library next Tuesday

Spoken word artist Lucas Smiraldo has been chosen to be Tacoma’s new Poet Laureate for 2013-2015. The two-year post has been running for five years and is awarded by the Tacoma Arts Commission. It involves community readings, workshops and events, the first of which is a reading next Tuesday in the Tacoma Public Library main branch featuring past and present laureates.

Smiraldo, who performs as Vanilla Soul, is a prolific writer, performance poet and playwright who has collaborated with many other Pacific Northwest artists in varied disciplines. A former education director at the Broadway Center for Performing

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Flora and Fine Arts brings nature onto the walls of Tacoma Art Museum next week

It’s spring inside as well next week, as the second annual “Flora and Fine Arts” show comes to Tacoma Art Museum courtesy of the Tacoma Garden Club. Local designers and floral artists will create 24 arrangements inspired by the current museum show “Drawing Line into Form.” Both shows are open free 5-8 p.m. April 18 for third Thursday; and the “Flora” show will stay up through the weekend.

“The interplay between works in “Drawing Line into Form” and the floral creations of talented local designers will dazzle museum visitors and provide new ways of connecting people through art,” said TAM director Stephanie Stebich.

Part of the private collection of BNY Mellon, “Drawing Line into Form” explores how sculptors sketch and design for their final works. It’s up until May 26 in the museum’s largest gallery.

“Flora and Fine Arts,” modeled on similar events at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the de Young Museum in San Francisco, and the Minneapolis Institute of Art, combines flowers, greenery, rocks and other materials into sculptural arrangements inspired by the art on the walls. This year’s show includes a site-specific bonsai installation by Elandan Gardens in the Richard Rhodes “Stone Wave” installation in the interior courtyard.            Read more »


Write@253 holds workshops, homework help, anthology projects on Tacoma’s Hilltop

Write@253, the Hilltop-based community writing center, is really hitting its stride with workshops, projects and ongoing homework help for all ages. Here’s what’s coming up

Writing Workshop for Health Care Professionals: Join writing teacher Judy Cromett to embark on a journey of discovering—or re-discovering–the rich rewards of writing.  The series began last week but there are five more Tuesdays to go: April 23, May 7, May 21, June 4, June 18. 7-9 p.m. Cost: $120 but scholarships available.

Write@253, 1310 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way, Tacoma. To register or for more info: Mary Fox, mfox@tacomacc.edu

PLU@253: Join letterpress artist Jessica Spring and her students from Pacific Lutheran University’s Elliot Press for a series of free letterpress workshops. Students will ink type and press the type to paper to produce an image and make journals, bookmarks, paper and even T-shirts. The series began last week but there are two more Wednesdays to go:

May 8, and June 12. 3:30-5:30 p.m. Free, supplies provided. Read more »


Art+Science Salon at Tacoma Art Museum explores individual and species identity through eco-artist Jackie Brookner’s work

Jackie Brookner, "The Gift of Water." Courtesy image.
Jackie Brookner, “The Gift of Water.” Courtesy image.

Art and science meet next Thursday at Tacoma’s second Art+Science Salon, a panel discussion and conversation joining the two disciplines and presented by the University of Puget Sound and Tacoma Art Museum. From 6-8 p.m. on April 18 the free salon at the museum will focus on a discussion between UPS neuroscientist Siddarth Ramakrishnan and New York-based eco-artist Jackie Brookner, with a panel of faculty and students from UPS.

Brookner, a professor at Parsons New School of Design, creates large artworks in collaboration with scientists, including a current NEA-sponsored project in Fargo, North Dakota. Her sculptures are living, plant-based systems that clean polluted water and storm runoff, such as “The Gift of Water” near Dresden, Germany, a pair of giant cupped concrete hands covered in mosses that are moistened by and purify water from a natural swimming hole.

“We are very excited to have Jackie with us,” says Ramakrishnan, who is leading the UPS committee that organizes the salons. “The title of the event will be ‘Individuals, Identities and Interfaces.’ We will touch upon the collaborative process between artists and scientists, and discuss what it means to be an individual, the relation to our environment and what constitutes the ‘inside’ versus the ‘outside’. We will draw upon science and art and philosophy and brainstorm with the audience on future projects.” Read more »


Graffiti knitting warms up the chain-link along St. Helens Avenue, thanks to Tacoma Urban Landscaping and more

Knitted flowers decorate Tacoma chain-link. Photo: Rosemary Ponnekanti
Knitted flowers decorate Tacoma chain-link. Photo: Rosemary Ponnekanti

Knitting art has always given me warm, fuzzy feelings (get it?) and especially guerrilla knitting. So the latest urban-cheering-up installation on the ugly chain-link fence along St. Helens Avenue at 6th in downtown Tacoma is a delight, perking up the gray steel and grayer view, and generally making a statement that even though Tacoma can be ugly, we can still show it love through art.

Masterminded by a local coalition of Tacoma Urban Landscaping, Downtown On the go, Coalition for Active Transportation, 35 Ways to Safer Streets, The Grand Cinema and the New Tacoma Neighborhood Council, the graffiti knitting is a brilliant idea, and much more elegant than the alley of love letters that preceded it. Colorful knitted flowers soften the fence, knitted flags wave brightly overhead, and sweaters knitted deftly into letters spell “SPRING” along the entrance to the chain-link walkway that protects pedestrians from the precipice down into the vacant lot on the street’s east side. Who knows how long that fence is going to be there and be that ugly – and so, in a neighborhood that’s rapidly on the up-and-up (think the swanky Maxwells, the delicate decorating vibe of Dwelling and Giraffe, the hip eateries at Amocat and Stink) this chain-link deserves some charm.

And here it is, along with groovy knitted tubes for the stop signs at either corner, and a board on the south end explaining the process with a survey to inspire more creative ideas. Read more »