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Category: Fringe


One person’s junk, another person’s Tinkertopia: Art foraging store opening mid-July on Pacific Avenue

R.R. and Darcy Anderson in Tinkertopia, opening soon on Pacific Avenue, Tacoma. Photo: Rosemary Ponnekanti
R.R. and Darcy Anderson in Tinkertopia, opening soon on Pacific Avenue, Tacoma. Photo: Rosemary Ponnekanti

It looks like an OCD nightmare – tins and barrels and baskets of plastic bits, wooden piano keys, yarn spools, picture frames, fabric remnants and any other little object you can imagine, all sprawled around the baby-blue space at 1914 Pacific Avenue. But for R.R. and Darcy Anderson, new entrepreneurs at creative reuse center Tinkertopia, it’s heaven – and the couple are hoping it will be for local artists, parents, teachers and anyone else who likes making things.

“Both of us are creative people and like to reuse things,” explains Darcy, a former pre-school teacher. “We were always fans of Creation Station in Lynnwood (another artist recycling store) but it was so far away.”

Then, when R.R. Anderson – a local cartoonist and chalk artist – lost his design day job, they realized the moment had come. The couple applied for the City of Tacoma’s Spaceworks Creative Enterprise program, which offers rent-free empty commercial space to start-up businesses on a temporary basis, and moved into the former gyro restaurant last month.

Since then they’ve been getting donation after donation: unused plastic slide holders from hospitals, tile samples from architectural firms, buckets of wood and plastic bits from the Creation Station, where the owners are retiring. Read more »


Lemolo, MLKBallet and Barefoot Collective in The Kaleidoscope Dance at Urban Grace this Saturday

Lemolo – Meagan Grandall and Kendra Cox – play live with contemporary dance this Saturday at Urban Grace. Photo: Genevieve Pearson.
Lemolo – Meagan Grandall and Kendra Cox – play live with contemporary dance this Saturday at Urban Grace. Photo: Genevieve Pearson.

New choreography meets live music this Saturday as indie rock female duo Lemolo collaborates with two Tacoma contemporary dance companies – MLKBallet and The Barefoot Collective – in the warm acoustics of Urban Grace Church. The collaboration is not the first such collaboration; MLK’s Move show once featured Vicci Martinez playing a couple of numbers before she got famous, and TBC is known for including a couple of live musicians in their dance shows, from solo viola to jazz combo. But “The Kaleidoscope Dance” is entirely live from beginning to end, and sets some of Tacoma’s best choreographers to the rock duo’s 2012 debut album “The Kaleidoscope,” played in its entirety.

Lemolo, made up of Port Orchard gals Meagan Grandall and Kendra Cox, has wowed the Seattle area scene over the last year.  They’ve been called everything from “heavenly and haunting” (City Arts Magazine) to “fragile yet strong” (Seattlepi.com), layering high ethereal voices over guitar riffs and sparse drums. Read more »


Tripod slideshow Friday night features national cartoonist Chris Britt, the new art in Mary Bridge and LaVonne Sallee, the ‘Barbie Lady’ of Oregon


LaVonne Sallee, "Barbie's Last Sleepover." Photo courtesy Lynn Di Nino.
LaVonne Sallee, “Barbie’s Last Sleepover.” Photo courtesy Lynn Di Nino.

The semi-monthly Tripod slide-shows at Gallery Madera in downtown Tacoma always have an array of quirky, fascinating pics, but this Friday the extremes are wild – and locally connected. Mady Murrey will show slides of the new not-so-public art at the Mary Bridge hospital extensions, nationally syndicated cartoonist Chris Britt will show and tell the life of a political cartoonist, and Oregon’s ‘Barbie Lady’ LaVonne Sallee will expose the cutesy doll in daring and sometimes bizarre vignettes that’ll make you look at dolls in a totally different light.

Of all of these, the Mary Bridge shots are perhaps the most useful to Tacomans, who won’t actually ever see this art unless they or a young relative happen to be sick enough to be admitted to the hospital. I blogged earlier about this work, which is Northwest in theme and vaguely ocean-based, including mosaic murals by Jennevieve Schlemmer and Mauricio Robalino, glass by Diane Hansen and Native Northwest art by Shaun Peterson. The one work you can see without even going in is the skyway window full of blown glass bubbles by the Hilltop Artists (visible from the emergency drop-off if you walk underneath). Even so, it’s still worth seeing up close in a photo to spot the cute glass sea-creatures hidden in the floats like a “Where’s Waldo” picture.

Chris Britt, "Bookends at the George W. Bush Library." Image courtesy Lynn Di Nino.
Chris Britt, “Bookends at the George W. Bush Library.” Image courtesy Lynn Di Nino.

Chris Britt is an editorial cartoonist for the Illinois Times of Springfield, Illinois, and has been syndicated since 1991. His award-winning work skewers politicians and public figures, pointing out the ironies of gay marriage, the gun debate, presidential illiteracy and more with goofy characters and detailed sketching. He’ll present “Slinging Ink: The Life of an Editorial Cartoonist.”

The third in the Tripod trio is LaVonne Sallee of Marquam, Oregon, otherwise known as the “Barbie Lady” for her extremely inventive art installations deconstructing the skinny, boringly-beautiful doll and reinventing her as a hairy tree-hugger, a topless Halloween angel, a bag lady, a circus clown, the White Witch, a prehistoric warrior, Lady Gaga and even Jesus.
She picks up material for her ‘altered Barbies’ from yard sales and thrift stores and lets her imagination go wild with clay, plaster, paint and more.

Even more cool is the fact that she’s the sister of Tacoma concrete-art diva Lynn Di Nino, co-organizer of the Tripod series and a quirky found-media artist in her own right.

The Tripod Show runs 7-8:30 p.m. May 17. Donation $5. Madera Furniture Company, 2210 Court A., Tacoma. 235-572-1218, maderawoodworking.com 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 »


Art and science meet in new salon discussion series at Tacoma Art Museum

Lelavision. Photo: Peter Haley for The News Tribune.
Lelavision. Photo: Peter Haley for The News Tribune.

What happens when artists and scientists get together? You’ll find out at a new series of discussion salons organized by the University of Puget Sound and hosted at Tacoma Art Museum. The first is this Thursday; the next April 18; each will feature local artists and scientists presenting work and ideas in a fast-paced five-minute slideshow format similar to the broader-themed Pecha Kucha nights that have happened in Tacoma and around the world over the last few years. The Art+Science Salons will always occur on third Thursdays, the museum’s free admission night.

“It’s all about getting some connections happening between artists and scientists,” said Siddharth Ramakrishnan, the new chair of neuroscience at UPS, whose idea the series was. “We’re hopeful that people will be inspired by others’ work and decide to go out for a coffee and talk abut working together.”

That science and art have many collaborative possibilities has been shown already in Tacoma by the Vashon-based Lelavision, a husband-and-wife duo who combine physical theater, musical sculpture and dance to illustrate scientific ideas and theories such as epigenetics or flower reproduction. Read more »


Just up – Beautiful Angle strikes again, this time to celebrate saving Tacoma’s Murray Morgan Bridge

Seen these yet? Beautiful Angle (aka Tom Llewellyn and Lance Kagey, guerrilla letterpress art duo) just posted their justifiably triumphant poster of the month – a celebration of the newly reopened Murray Morgan Bridge in Tacoma. The historic bridge was saved from demolition partly because of the poster (and community) efforts of these guys.


FlowerHouse lights up Tacoma’s Hilltop like a stained-glass eulogy to the common weed

Duncan Price, "FlowerHouse." Courtesy photo.

It sits at the corner of South 15th and G Streets like a beacon. Architecturally it’s just an ordinary large four-square Craftsman of the kind you see all over that neighborhood, but it’s what’s in the windows that make it shine, literally: 28 backlit photographic panels of brambles, thistles and weeds on a heroic scale, lighting the darkness in silent, appreciative hope. It’s “FlowerHouse,” a City of Tacoma-granted installation by artist Duncan Price, who lives in the house and has come up with a great way to brighten the darkest time of the year (and promote his work at the same time).

Duncan Price, "FlowerHouse." Courtesy photo.

Sitting on the corner one block down from St. Leo’s and St. Nicholas’ on Yakima Avenue, the “FlowerHouse” functions, in fact, a little like a church – visually, at least. Every single window, from the small rectangle over the doorframe to the three-part bay window on the side to the upstairs bedrooms, is completely covered over with a backlit rectangle printed with a giant, close-up shot of a weed. Yes, Northwest garden pariahs like blackberry, ivy and thistle are here captured with all the care and fascination usually given to more exotic species like hummingbirds or orchids: A yellow dandelion bloom sparkles with morning condensation, a bramble’s thorn arches greenly out of a blood-red base, a purple thistle-flower spreads a dainty, delicate filigree. Read more »


Chainsaw sculpture: Gandalf and Smaug emerge in a North End front yard

“The Hobbit” might not be released in cinemas yet, but Gandalf the wizard and Smaug his fire-breathing adversary are already here in Tacoma’s North End, courtesy of a 10-foot fir stump and a creative chainsaw sculptor.

Finished just two days ago, the sculpture of a bearded wizard battling a coiled, spiny dragon wreathes around the tall stump of a tree left behind in Ross Barde’s front yard at North 11th and Anderson Streets when a too-tall fir came down this summer.

“I knew I wanted something, so I asked my brother to save some (when he cut it down),” says

Read more »