Trail To Western American Art: Cherokee Nation, Go West Gala, bluegrass coming to Tacoma Art Museum

By Alec Clayton on October 15, 2014

Opening day for the new wing of Tacoma Art Museum is getting closer by the day, and the museum continues to gear up for a huge celebration. Curators are reviewing, restoring and acquiring period frames for a small number of works in the collection. Painting the galleries is complete, and the museum is finalizing the logistics for the Marie Watt sculpture installation, "Blanket Stories: Transportation Object, Generous Ones, Trek". The bronze sculpture made from 400 donated blankets is estimated to weigh 2,500 pounds.

Asia Tail, a member of the Cherokee Nation, recently joined TAM in the role of Haub Fellow. She is reaching out to local Native Americans and tribes across the nation that are included in the artwork of the Haub Family Collection to bring the voice of Native people into the interpretation of the exhibition. This will be an ongoing project and TAM hopes to incorporate quotes and input in various formats throughout the exhibition.

The museum staff continues work testing and operating the lighting system in the new wing. Last year, TAM's team visited the San Francisco Modern Art Museum because as part of their expansion, SFMOMA had established a full-scale test gallery to evaluate lighting systems. The TAM staff was able to learn from SFMOMA's research to make an efficient selection of lighting for the new Haub Family Galleries.

You may see a large "A" on the steel grating of the new entrance canopy; this is a test for the scale of the new logo signage expected to be installed in early November.

TAM's largest annual benefit raising funds for educational programming, called the Go West Gala, takes place Nov. 14 and will include cuisine by El Gaucho, with drinks, dancing and entertainment by performance artist Shovelman with his shovel-turned-guitar, and there will be a gala auction featuring, among other items, beautiful paper cuts by Nikki McClure of Olympia and works donated by artists including Dale Chihuly, Susan Russell Hall, Jeremy Mangan, Camille Patha and Kurt Solmssen.

The Go West Grand Opening will include free Wells Fargo Stagecoach rides on Pacific Avenue from 1-4 p.m. Visitors can join artist Marie Watt in a sewing circle; Other activities on opening day include storytellers, face painting, western-themed food in the freshly updated TAM Café. The Weekly Volcano has summoned The Oly Mountain Boys and banjo musician Forest Beutel to fill the new wing with bluegrass during the opening day festivities. Buetel and The Oly Mountain Boys will also perform at the downtown Tacoma Polar Plaza Ice Rink this holiday season as part of the Weekly Volcano's Rhythm & Ice: Down Home Holiday Hootenanny shows every Saturday night during the rink's run.

TACOMA ART MUSEUM, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. third Thursday, 1701 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, $8-$10, 5 and younger free, 253.627.6031


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