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November 13, 2006 at 10:42am

Art at Work Studio Tour review

The studio of Laurel Lawson appealed to me, with the buoyantly spring-toned Mary Cassatt meets Henri Matisse portrait of a mother and her child, simple ink drawings, and kids’ drawings that connected me instantly.  Seems Laurel’s heart and motivations lie not so far from my own, though she has an enviable North End Tacoma home complete with killer yard and amazing studio space, and artistic ability to boot. My first stop of the day, Lawson’s studio, prepared me to be impressed by the rest I would see during my Art at Work Studio Tours this past weekend, and I wasn’t disappointed. 

Studiotourone_1 Studiotourtwo Studotourthree At Holly Senn’s, I was arrested first by the beauty of the neighborhood, then by the beauty and serenity of her conceptual art involving books. “I’m not a book artist, I’m a sculptor, books are my media,” she clarified, and I can see and appreciate the different ways she utilizes her media, from the papering of the walls, to the baskets woven of book-chunks, to the papier mache apple-like globes suspended in branches. She mentioned that in her work, she’s marrying the natural world to the intellectual world, and it’s a concept I could actually grasp. More of her conceptual work will be on display in her “Enchanted Forest of the Mind” Exhibition at the Tacoma Community College gallery from Dec. 1-31.

Studiotourfour Studiotourfive Studiotoursix From the conceptual to artisanal, I went to Court C in downtown Tacoma, where I met artists Anne Elrod, whose multi-artist books inspired me, Lynne Farren, whose assemblages reminded me that my daughter’s things are beautiful, and Cheryl Laurenzo, whose hand-woven and hand-dyed textiles awed me.

Studiotourseven Textiles also featured in the Loyalty Clothing space, though Daniel Blue and Danii Backwell were using already-woven and dyed items and creating fantastic items for a night at the House of Kubla Khan fashion show at Indochine.  These works will be seen at the event on Nov. 18, 4 p.m., after which point the hard workers can finally get some rest.

Rest is what I needed after a day of wandering around studios, though the glimpse into the creative spaces of the artists, varied as they were, inspired me to create my own space.  What will the mate say when I tell him his car has to go out of the garage? â€" Jessica Corey-Butler

Filed under: Culture, Tacoma,

November 12, 2006 at 7:46pm

We'll spend a week here on Saturday

We love Tacoma. If you sometimes don't, or if you're one of those daisies who can't quite commit to even being a Tacoman despite having lived here for more than one year, or if you're new and need to understand the ethos and pathos of Tacoma in a manner that will help you appreciate this place, you need to get out Saturday. It's not all in the smoky gambling and condo development, although it's also not entirely without those precious gems â€" it's in the way you feel the city.

So here you go â€"get started on enhancing your love of Tacoma Saturday, Nov. 18:

  • Grass-roots organization, Tacoma Works, hosts an open studio for the Hilltop Storefront Mural Project. Come out and meets the artists, learn more about the project, and get involved. The open studio will take place at 1912 Pacific Ave. Saturday from noon to 3 p.m.
  • House of Kubla Kahn, a Tacoma Indie Fashion Showcase, works the runway at Indochine, 1934 Pacific Ave., Saturday at 4 p.m. They begin seating at 3 p.m.  A designer reception will be held next door at urbanXchange at 5 p.m.  Reserve your space now by calling Indochine at (253) 572-8200.
  • The Dead Artists have secured the spot next to The Grand Cinema to turn their art party Kulture Lab into a regular gallery and event space to feature rotating displays of edgy art, mixed and multi-media showings, installations, film, fashion, dance, spoken word and music.  The grand opening is scheduled for Saturday, 7-11 p.m.  It is at 608 Fawcett St.
  • Snowballed, the Tacoma Art’s Community’s one-year anniversary, throws a party featuring a one-act performance art piece "The Threshold," music by Jeremy Silas, Angela Jossy and others, refreshments, dancing, and more.  The event wll be held at 7 p.m. at The Soma United Church, 2320 Pacific Ave. The price of admission is one handmade snowflake that will be donated to Mary Bridge Hospital’s Festival of Trees.
  • Funk master George Clinton arrives in Tacoma as a special guest of Clip Payne’s 420 Funk Mob Saturday at Jazzbones.
  • Tempest Lounge celebrates its one-year anniversary Saturday night with tasty cocktails and music by DJs LA Kendall and Colby B. Stop by and help proprietors Denise and Michelle celebrate at 913 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

Filed under: Culture, Tacoma,

November 9, 2006 at 10:45am

Poet Judith Skillman reads tonight

Bluegrass people wear Velcro sandals.  The weather today sucks. The Sonics suck.  A woman’s handbag is her own private territory.  What do these statements have in common?  Nothing.  So why are you still reading this? (Please say you still are. It gets better, really.)  Because you want to know what’s going on.  Well, it’s a literary event, one of those things where you’re never quite sure what the writer/speaker is going to do or say next. Just like the beginning of this blog entry, see?  You didn’t know what was going on, and you stuck with it so now you do.  Your reward?  You now will know, right now, that poet Judith Skillman will read her words tonight at The Seven Muses gallery. Pretty cool, eh? Cool enough to make you skip "The Office,” eh? Eh? â€" Suzy Stump

Filed under: Culture, Tacoma,

November 6, 2006 at 10:47pm

Spooky Tacoma places

Bobble Tiki doesn’t believe in spooks. He doesn’t, he doesn’t, he doesn’t believe in spooks. And yet … on a rainy November night, when the leaves rattle against the fire escape and the computer crashes again and again for no apparent reason, Bobble Tiki finds himself drawn to supernatural explanations. Get a grip, he tells himself. Those lights going on and off? Nothing more than old wiring. That vase that crashed from the shelf? Vibrations from passing trucks.  That Ted Bundy victim dumped in the foundation of a building being built at the University of Puget Sound who now moans in the halls of the building.  Well?

For others, however, the chance of seeing a resident ghost on a stairway, among a local cemetery’s headstones or waving from a window provides an extra reason to live a Ghostbuster dream. There are a couple Tacoma venues where it's rumored you can get your Halloween on past October.

The Pantages Theater, the centerpiece for Tacoma’s Broadway Center for the Performing Arts,  hosts a carved face that looks out on audiences from the top of the stage proscenium.  Some say that it was modeled after the face of founder Alexander Pantages.  Some also say that if you watch that face very closely, its expression will change.  Witnesses claim that the ghost of Pantages smiles at the shows of which he approves.  And when Mr. Pantages doesn’t like an act, his displeasure is equally plain to see. 

Similarly, Tacoma’s Temple Theatre is a source of stories about the sounds of furniture being dragged across the floors of empty rooms, doors and windows later found open when they were left closed, and of luminous apparitions in the balcony.

Will the new Horatio Theater at 708 Opera Alley end up a ghost?  Doubtful.  Erik Hanberg, former managing director of the Grand Cinema, will open his Tacoma fringe theater sometime in February 2007.  His vision of daring, profound theater will most likely succeed due to the influx of urban downtown denizens and rise of intellectual artists pushing boundaries.  Check out the full story at Exit113. â€" Bobble Tiki


Filed under: Culture, Tacoma,

November 6, 2006 at 11:00am

Dia de Muerto, TAM-style

A former classmate of mine from the University of Washington-Tacoma, who is involved in the Latin Student Organization, encouraged me to stay in the Tacoma Art Museum’s library space with my daughter yesterday, because a storyteller was coming.  Cool, I thought.  Then said storyteller, Rose Cano, was announced to be starting later than planned.  I still thought, cool, I’ll sit with my kid and read Eric Carle books.  We had just eaten a very tasty Untitled Cafe meal â€" the best tomato soup, ever, with crusty warm bread and stars of grilled cheese sandwich, grapes, and carrots for kidlette, along with an amazing feta and grilled chicken (with cous cous!) salad for me. We had also decorated sugar skulls, and had seen the emotionally moving display of altars, and enjoyed drums, "Trimpin’s Conlan in Purple," and Eric Carle’s amazing art.

Tamdeadone_1 Tamdeadthree Even still, the TAM Dia de Muertos event took on wings and flew as Rose Cano enchanted my daughter and me.  She arrested us, me sitting cross-legged against a table, my kid on a pillow, as she entered and set up.  She entranced us as she played a song on her reed-like flute.  She captivated us as she began her story about a misunderstood woman washing her hair in the river.  As effortless as the flow of the river, Cano moved between Spanish and English, reaching and riveting the entirety of the audience. Fluidly, Cano displayed her familiarity with instruments as diverse as goat’s hooves, seeds, spoons, and flutes as she wove these instruments adroitly into her storytelling.  As she played a box, she taught, as she moved into her next story, she left musical instruments behind for animalia and voices.  Boys in the crowd loved the slingshot end to the Macaw in both languages; girls seemed riveted by it all though my own daughter seemed to like the story of the skunk best.  By this point, she and I were snuggling, with me up against the pillow-cushioned wall, and her burrowing up against me to where her giggles reverberated against my ribs.

Tamdeadtwo It was a beautiful moment of education, community, family, diversity, and entertainment.  It was the kind of moment I hope will be replicated many more times, because the whole thing â€" the languages, the colors, the dance, the crowd, the old, the young, the in-between, the teens â€" was just gorgeous.

Viva la Dia! â€" Jessica Corey-Butler

Filed under: Culture, Tacoma,

November 5, 2006 at 11:19am

MOVE! moves, on many levels

The small Tacoma School of the Arts theater was packed, and after "MOVE! Tacoma Contemporary Dance Series" one of the performers apologized for flinging sweat on the audience.  While I didn’t get any fluids flung on my person, I did enjoy a physically and emotionally riveting show of what ballet can look like when a talented and experienced group of choreographers and performers push its boundaries.

Last night's highlights were varied and frequent, from the energy, spirit, and geometry in motion of the Tacoma School of the Art’s Dance Company’s “Birds,” choreographed by Kate Monthy; to Josh Reisberg’s spoken word stylings celebrating dance and Tacoma; to the Maika Misumi Dance Troupe’s use of many, many yards of fabric, and slow, studied steps exploding into vibrant physicality; to Joel Myers’ emotional solo based on experiences dealing with his fathers death, set to Moby’s "Goodbye" and featuring local fashion-wunderkind Daniel Blue’s Loyalty Clothing; to the Tacoma Dance Collective’s “Nightflight,” a black-lit journey through the life of a luna moth and the moths it relates to; to the Zoe Scofield/Juniper Shuey excerpt from "Find Your Way Out," where Kate Monthy and Zoe Scofield showed their stuff in an expressive, impressive feat of footwork.

A few of the dancers returned in danielandsomesuperfriends’ “Out of the Dust,” a trip through the psyche of a young person’s mind.  This marathon of a piece explored the dynamic side of ballet, with many of the groupings of people and physical forms on stage giving props to the formal side of ballet, but with a smattering of break-dance and acrobatic moves set to music that was most definitely not Tchaikovsky. This dance, as combined with the whole evening, seemed to reflect to me the diversity and excitement that MLKBallet will bring to the dance scene, encompassing the formal elements of the dance with stylistic props to T-Town.

Moveone Move2 Move3 Move4 We all headed to Tempest Lounge after the show, where the dancers were finally able to feed themselves â€" they performed at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and couldn’t eat between shows â€" the physical nature of their dancing would have led to cramps like your mom always warned you about.  Tempest was buzzing with Pappi Swarner in attendance, along with his crew of witty fun people who made me laugh much; Natasha and her fabulous shoes made an appearance with Larry in tow â€" not working â€" and whisked us to the Monsoon Room. â€" Jessica Corey-Butler

Filed under: Culture, Tacoma,

November 2, 2006 at 10:27pm

Dia de Los Muertos on Sixth Avenue

Halloween terrified us this year. We cowered behind darkened doors, hoping the pint-size ghosts and goblins didn’t invade when they discover that we’re keeping the candy for ourselves. Time for a change of tradition. So we hit the Sixth Avenue Dia de Los Muertos celebration tonight.  Day of the Dead if you will.  Night of the rain if you will.  Tent. Band.  Puppets. Costumes.  Dead Elvis. Fun.

Sixthavedayofdeadone SixthavedayofdeadtwoSixthdayofthedead3 Sixthdayofthedead4 Sixthdayofthedead5 If you still want to dance with the dead, check out the Tacoma Art Museum festivities Sunday. â€" Suzy Stump

Filed under: Culture, Tacoma,

November 2, 2006 at 1:24pm

Art at Work kicks off (with cake!)

Jeans and suits, gowns and fishnets, and the most adorable yellow dress, ever shared the Tacoma Art Museum for the 5th Anniversary Celebration of Art at Work, er, celebration.

In typical Tacoma fashion, all types of people came together to celebrate Tacoma’s success in fostering accessible art.

I chatted with James Hume, Claudia Riedener, and Bret Lyon, and then I supped (loosely speaking) with the mayor, Bill Baarsma.  He was dining like a hunted, hungry man; I asked him if this was his first meal of the day, too? And he responded, wryly, “it’s lunch.”

We all congregated in the projection room and the mayor, now fed, handed out the AMOCAT awards. Laura and Matt Eklund received the artist award for their work producing festivals like the Urban Art Festival and two Art in the Park “Under the Trees” festivals.  Laura, with the most delightfully infectious laugh in Tacoma, accepted the award, and in a classy move, invited Linda Honeck and Johanna Gardner to join her on stage.  She gave props to Honeck and Gardner expressing nothing she and Matt do could have happened without their huge efforts.  Classy.

Next, Paul and Josephine Zmolek, who received the Outreach Award, stated that Tacoma hadn’t rated as a place to settle until they almost accidentally made a visit here.  They fell in love â€" who wouldn’t â€" and created Barefoot Studios, with its contemporary dance and fringe theater.

Not quite so fringe were the works of the Sixth Avenue Business District who’ve been aiding in neighborhood accessibility through public art.

Yummy-looking chocolate cake was passed out as I chatted with Amy McBride, wunderkind of the accessible art revolution, and I once again realized why I think Tacoma is so darn groovy: our people rock! â€" Jessica Corey Butler

Filed under: Culture, Tacoma,

April 7, 2006 at 11:33am

They can see your bone

Want to get a good laugh? Spend some time in Jazzbones balcony and watch people going to the bathroom (c'mon, you know what I mean, sicko).  The light to the bathroom is not on the inside by the door, but instead straight ahead above the towel rack on the opposite wall.  Most people either give up or tinkle in the dark.  Hope this helps. - Brad Allen

Filed under: Culture, Tacoma,

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