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Tacoma Art on the Ave 2014

To the Grub Crawl ... and beyond!

Mirrorgloss will turn Tacoma's Sixth Avenue into a dance club Saturday, July 12. Photo credit: Abby J Kok

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Has it really been a year since we previewed Art on the Ave for last July? Wait, we're counting on our fingers and toes ... yep, the math checks out. Our love for this summer celebration of all things expressive is a matter of record, so don't think we're throwing the full weight of our Volcano Bump behind this year's festival just because its producer, Angela Jossy, used to write for us. Nay, nay. We're a sucker for any event that brings Gateway to India, Southern Exposure, and Asado Cucina Argentina together for one celebrity cook-off. We're writers, folks. The way to our collective heart is a parade route for cheap, delectable eats.

Yes, the Grub Crawl, which rounds up almost a dozen restaurants for a battle royale of six-dollar dishes, is our gateway drug; but that just throws the doors wide to everything else Art on the Ave has to offer. Consider, for example, an associated carnival, dubbed "Cirque du Tacoma," which includes a Cyclone mechanical swing ride, a 24-foot climbing wall, and other attractions from a vendor with the terrifying name of "Clowns Unlimited." Shaking visions of a coven of Pennywises from our heads, we note with interest that this year's art installations bear the unifying theme, "Operation EPIC." What does that mean? Well, imagine, for example, a vast mural by the Children's Museum of Tacoma, or an oversize paint-by-numbers image that you and other festivalgoers help to fill in. Bring your oversize kids! - or regular-size kids, if that's all you've been able to produce.

Live music and entertainment will emanate from five different stages. At time of writing, Jazzbones' lineup begins with Live OutLoud at noon, followed by Letters from Traffic, Amadon, Rust on the Rails, Nolan Garrett and the Breaklites. O'Malley's Irish Pub will roll out bands including Cannabis Droids, Deathbed Confessions, Heavy Hammer, Heiress, Hilltop Rats and The Loss. Dance trio Mirrorgloss rocks the "Half Pint Stage" with a sound that's been compared to Santogold, yet is really all their own.

The real attraction of Art on the Ave, however, is Tacoma itself. Over a hundred local vendors come together to show off their wares, engage in friendly competition, and highlight the artistic, culinary, and musical skills of dozens of South Sound artists and performers. We're talking the Broadway Center, Dockyard Derby Dames, Tinkertopia and many, many more. And just think: all you really have to bring is your eyes, ears and taste buds. We'll be hovering around the Ice Cream Social stand. Don't you judge us!

ART ON THE AVE, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday, July 13, Sixth Avenue between Cedar Street and Trafton Street, Tacoma, free to attend, $12 for an unlimited carnival bracelet,

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