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Art at Work month is on

One million arts events (maybe less) happening in Tacoma

STUDIO TOURS: Jessica Sprint working with a young visitor to create a letterpress keepsake. photo credit: JASON GANWICH

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Art at Work Month is a collective of events and exhibits packaged into one exciting month by the Tacoma Arts Commission. Some of these happenings take place year-round, others are Art at Work specific, but all of them invite the public out to see why Tacoma is such an amazingly artsy community.

"Art at Work month is dedicated to showcasing arts and culture in our community," says Naomi Strom-Avila, cultural arts specialist at the arts commission. "It's a chance for the community to get out and get to know all the different organizations and artists that are working in Tacoma and creating the cultural spark here."

Art at Work encompasses more than 300 events and exhibits in the month of November. In the previous 10 years, there has always been a full printed booklet of all Art at Work events. This year, the booklet has undergone some changes - namely, it's mostly gone online at ArtAtWorkTacoma.com.

Tonight at 6:30 p.m. kicks off the month with an opening party and presentation of the Amocat Awards at Tacoma Art Museum. The event is free and open to the public. And there will be appetizers!

Art at Work's studio tours present a unique way to connect with the art world - rather than going to a museum or gallery, waltz right into an artist's studio and see what they do, how they do it, and maybe even try your hand at it. This year, the studio tours take place on Nov. 3 and 4, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. All studios will have a hands-on activity or presentation.

There is still a printed studio tour brochure, or you can go online and print out the list of open studios and their hours (not all are open during all hours of the event).

If you don't want to drive around, sign up to ride the ART BUS, which leaves each day at 1 p.m. from Tacoma Art Museum and costs $15 for regular admission and $25 for VIP.

Beyond the studio tours, other events include everything from special museum exhibits to films to comedy shows to dance to literary presentations. Art at Work is nothing if it's not all-inclusive. Many events present arts in traditional places such as theatres and galleries, while others step into unexpected spaces. For example, Barefoot Collective is doing a series of impromptu dances at places such as Indochine and Tacoma Public Library.

Other facets of Art at Work are changing. Several previous years saw arts symposiums for artist education and resources, but this year the symposium is on hold. Instead, Tacoma Arts Commission plans to do workshops spread throughout the year.

With the sheer number of goings-on, there is something at Art at Work that will interest you. Arts are for everyone and Tacoma's art scene strives to include us all.

"Step outside your comfort zone. Try something new," says Strom-Avila. "Use this as an opportunity to see what's really out there.  Get outside. November is such a dreary month and this is such a great opportunity to say - no, I'm not going to sit at home!"

Opening Party & AMOCAT Awards

  • Nov. 1, 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
  • Tacoma Art Museum, 1701 Pacific Ave.
  • Public invited; free
  • Attendees will enjoy appetizers, dessert, a no-host bar, music by Tacoma Youth Symphony, and exhibits in the museum galleries. The event will include recognition of the Tacoma Arts Commission's 2012 funding recipients and the AMOCAT Art Award winners - KeyBank, The Grand Cinema and Katy Evans

Tacoma Studio Tour

  • Nov. 3 and Nov. 4 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • 37 locations around Tacoma.
  • Free, self-guided tour of 55 local artists' studios. Ask questions and purchase one-of-a-kind creations. All studios will feature demonstrations of the artistic process or will have hands-on activities for visitors.
  • ART BUS leaves from Tacoma Art Museum, 1701 Pacific Ave. Cost per tour: $15 regular, $25 VIP (includes bag with gifts from local businesses) Purchase tickets in advance at www.tacomaartbus.com or on Nov. 3 & 4 a half hour before departure time on the curb outside Tacoma Art Museum.

Schedule of events: ArtAtWorkTacoma.com

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