Certain places offer such a splendid harmony of history, architecture and overflowing natural verdure that they seem to invite the siting of art work there. In Tacoma, one of these places is the W.W. Seymour Conservatory, which is presenting the Lost Tribes of Hilltop, an exhibition of glass art by the Hilltop Artists, April 10 through May 24, 2012. The jewel-like dome of the 104-year-old conservatory is set amidst the idyllic landscaping of Wright Park providing a focused and inspired backdrop for the dazzling contemporary glasswork of these skilled student artists.
In Lost Tribes of Hilltop, 83 artists aged 12 to 20 take inspiration from the natural world – and a broad imaginative leap – to create glass objects that embody the archaeological relics of a tribe of their own creation. In effect, each of these tribes – including Raven, Wolf, Cheetah, Snake, and Iguana – has created its own mythos, and even a petroglyph illustrating the story of its origin. These vivid works in glass reflect a tribe’s connection to nature, the cultural significance of food, the sacredness of water, and the values shared by all.
The non-profit Hilltop Artists program was established in 1994 by Tacoma native and Pilchuck School founder Dale Chihuly, and the late Kathy Kaperick. At the time, Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood was beset by high crime and gang activity that impacted the community and its youth. Hilltop Artists offered a diverse group of young people an exciting yet challenging outlet for their promise, drive and talent. Today, the program serves more than 500 students a year, and student art is made available for purchase to the public and private organizations. The glassblowing program is tuition-free and all supplies are provided. Please watch this award-winning video by Tyler Kalberg and Adam Pranica to discover the difference Hilltop Artists is making in young lives.
Last September, the organization was honored by an invitation to present on their Arts Connect Program at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in New York. Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, CGI’s mission is to connect the best minds “to forge solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.” Congratulations, Hilltop Artists! Continue reading
"Variation on the figure 5" by Lance Kagey. Photo courtesy of the artist.
Lance Kagey makes righteous art. To be specific, letterpress art that makes people stop, do a double-take, and frequently ask for more. For nearly 10 years, as half of the design team (with Tom Llewellyn) of Beautiful Angle, he has been creating a series of thought-provoking, Tacoma-centric guerilla art at the rate of one new wheatpaste poster design a month. Their ongoing project is a paean to Tacoma, its icons, and the dark, inchoate poetry that makes our city what it is. But Kagey also flies solo with his art, and we checked in to talk about his new installation at the Woolworth Building.
SPACEWORKS TACOMA: Hi Lance. Your concept for your Spaceworks project was to recreate the aesthetics of your letterpress studio inside the Woolworth windows. I hope that means there is intention behind this almost symphonic arrangement of art and vintage printing press equipment…Surely your “clutter” doesn’t look this gorgeous all the time (if it does, I think I’ll just go shoot myself right now)?
LANCE KAGEY: Surprisingly, this is a pretty faithful recreation of the aesthetic of my studio space. My kids say I’m one tragedy away from being featured on the Hoarders show. My space is very full of visual stimulus. It’s organized chaos. It inspires me as I create. I appreciate the total experience that people have as they visit my studio space.
On the road to "Hoarders"? Detail of Lance Kagey's installation at the Woolworth Building.
ST: Please identify your 3 favorite objects in the window and explain what they are and what they mean to you.
LK: 1. Right near the corner is a big cast iron apparatus that is both beautiful and functional, graceful and industrial. It is a perfect example, in my opinion, of the Tacoma aesthetic. The machine is used to round the corners off a stack of paper.
2. I love folk art. In the far end of the window, perched on top of an old street lamp base is a piece I call the “Virgin of Guadalupe”. I created this piece back in 2002 while visiting Guadalupe Ranch in West Texas. Made from drapery hooks, a cheese grater, a little electric motor, bottle caps and a lid from an Uncle Ben‘s rice container, among other things – this piece illustrates the metaphor of the mundane becoming the sacred.
3. There is a collection of hand-bound books and other handcrafted ephemera. I relish the evidence of the artisan’s touch in our lives. The smallest thing done well becomes artistic. Continue reading
In commemoration of 25 years of service, the Pierce County AIDS Foundation (PCAF) is seeking artists in all media to create artworks inspired by the iconic red ribbon for its World AIDS Day fund-raising event. Selected artworks will be auctioned at ART FOR AIDS: Ribbons of Reflection, a gala to be held at the Tacoma Art Museum on Dec. 1, 2012. Artists will create an original work that features the red twist ribbon, the visual symbol of the HIV/AIDS virus for the past 30 years, in either representational or abstract form. Artworks should take into consideration the full range of the pandemic from crisis to hope for a cure.
Thirty artworks will be selected for display in venues throughout the city through Dec. 1, 2012. A site map for the art pieces will be published and distributed throughout Tacoma. On World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, the artworks will go up for auction at the PCAF gala at TAM. Participating artists will receive free entry to the event. Find the application here (click under Call to Artists). For more information, please visit http://www.piercecountyaids.org, or contact Jill Frey at 253.383.2565 or email@example.com.
"Old City Hall," letterpress print hand-colored with watercolor by Chandler O'Leary.
“For over a decade my constant companion has been my sketchbook, which is filled with graphite, ink and watercolor drawings of the world around me,” says artist Chandler O’Leary. “From nudes to passing strangers, from exotic locales to my own neighborhood, my sketchbooks not only filter my visual notes in a way that informs my studio work, but stand as a documentary of my life.” For outside observers, these notebooks brimming with highly detailed impressions offer the intimate perspective of an artist’s diary.
O’Leary is expanding her private journals to the scale of public art with Hillside Sketchbook, a “time-based” installation in which the artist will create a sweeping panorama of Tacoma made up of dozens of smaller sketches of the hillside view. Commissioned by Spaceworks Tacoma, this work will develop gradually over the three-month period it is on exhibition in the Woolworth Building, as O’Leary continually adds ink drawings and watercolors to fill in the vista.
"Continuum," O'Leary's graceful, pencil-drawn design for a Tacoma Link Light Rail station shelter was executed on etched glass panels in 2011.
“I will complete each portion of the drawing in all weather conditions, at roughly the same time of day,” says the artist and illustrator. “The real-time assembly of the drawing captures a series of fleeting moments in time. It documents the ever-changing nature of our city on an accessible, human scale.” Continue reading
Test photo from a Phoebe Moore video installation. Photo courtesy of the artist.
If you’re walking the street near the corner of 950 Pacific Ave., you may get the feeling you’re being watched. That’s because in her new window installation for Spaceworks Tacoma, artist Phoebe Moore has installed two video monitors with roving eyes, “to create the illusion that the building [has] a face. I practiced this project on my own home last year and the effect is striking. It looks a bit like a giant is trapped inside the building.” Especially at night. In addition to the staring, blinking video peepers, Moore has made and installed crude papier-mâché eyeballs – too many to count – to observe passersby.
Study for a building with eyes by Phoebe Moore.
The specter of large, disembodied eyes peering out from a business highrise holds obvious connotations – 24-hour surveillance, homeland security, an Orwellian goodbye to privacy. The title of the installation, Argus Panoptes, refers to a Greek mythological giant with 100 eyes. But the fact that they are female orbs gives this installation a fresh twist. “Those are my eyeballs,” says Moore. “I filmed a bunch of different eyeballs, but I decided to go with the ones closest to me….Some of the eyes are big and scared, some of them are crinkled and laughing. I really wanted there to be an eye for everyone.” Maybe the building is not so malevolent in spirit after all; maybe if that concrete face could hum, it would be We Only Have Eyes for You. She adds speculatively: “I’d love to see a cathedral with eyes instead of stained glass – but that might be really creepy.”
Moore pulls some strings at a puppet show. Photo courtesy of the artist.
Moore is a native Tacoman now living and working in Olympia. In addition to being a videographer she designs puppets, and is the founder of Atomic Playground, a variety show for emerging musicians, puppeteers and video makers in the state capitol. In 2011, she started The Olympia Exquisite Corpse, a collaborative film competition which spotlighted 12 participating teams. Phoebe Moore is an artist to keep an eye on!
Pickwick topped off a musical triple-header at Immanuel Presbyterian last night. Photo: David Schimer
The inaugural concert of Cathedrals Tacoma filled the pews at Immanuel Presbyterian Church last night in a sold-out show! Seattle-based indie bands Pickwick (just back from South x Southwest) and The Maldives, and Portland’s Pearly Gate Music drew fans from Oregon to Edmonds, who enjoyed a nearly four-hour show with two intermissions during which DJ Eddie Sumlin of Fab-5 kept the crowd moving in the downstairs lounge area. Congratulations to Aaron Stevens, a musician and Spaceworks Tacoma artist-in-residence, who with Nathan Marion conceived this experimental series dedicated to presenting alternative music in amazing spaces for the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts. Performing beneath the 121-year-old church’s beautiful stained glass window, Pearly Gate’s Zach Tillman opened with riveting, lonesome ballads; The Maldives charged up the room with a gutsy set of alt-country rock; and Pickwick brought down the house with a charismatic blues- and Motown-infused, experimental blend that kept the audience on its feet throughout their 40-minute set. Read more about this series in the Weekly Volcano and on our Tacoma Arts blog.
Living sculpture by Kyle Dillehay. Photo courtesy of the artist
To what lengths should science go to produce food to satisfy the consumer demand for convenience at one extreme, and widespread hunger on the other? For a dozen years, artist Kyle Dillehay has been concerned with the health and ethical issues surrounding genetically modified food – so much so that he now grows heirloom varietals for his own family’s table. The subject continues to shape his work: “Since my Atlanta, GA, rapid-rail art project, in 2000, I have been creating sculptural installations using a variety of pod-like forms to make statements regarding man’s involvement in changing the genetic structure of plants for his own uses,” he says. These installations have ranged in scale from a major, government-funded train station project to more private art “interventions” involving the spontaneous placement of individual pods in both natural and urban settings that offer surprising distractions to the alert observer.
Art with a creeping feeling: a previous Dillehay installation using plant sculptures. Photo courtesy of the artist
For Sacred Balance, his new installation at the Woolworth Building, Dillehay has positioned dirt-filled, cast iron web-pods in an arrangement so they appear to be emerging from the walls and ceiling. These pods are planted with genetically-modified grass seed that has been engineered to germinate and grow with limited sunlight. The pods at first appear lifeless as they germinate for the first seven to ten days, then release an explosion of vibrant green to dominate the space.
Dillehay will lightly water the grass as needed throughout the exhibit’s three-month duration to maintain the lushness of the grass for viewers passing by. “My main intent is to bring a little awareness to the great amount of genetic engineering that is being performed on even the most basic of plants for human convenience,” he says. Sacred Balance, the Woolworth Building, 11th & Broadway, through June 30, 2012.
Bird sculpture by Elise Richman at the Woolworth Building.
We’re proud to announce the next round of artists to rock the Woolworth Building and satellite spaces in downtown Tacoma! Artists Kyle Dillehay, Lance Kagey, Phoebe Moore, Chandler O’Leary and Elise Richman; and environmental and geotechnical consultants, Landau Associates, have begun installing works that will be on exhibit through June 30, 2012. Michiko Tanaka will present a new video installation at the Tollbooth Gallery on Broadway, April 10 through August 31, 2012. Spring is in the wings – see new art at the Woolworth Building and at the corner of 950 Pacific!
Individual artists who reside in Washington State are encouraged to apply to the 2012 Grants for Artist Projects (GAP). Artist Trust’s GAP provides support for individual artist projects awarding up to $1,500 per project. GAPs support a spectrum of artist projects including (but not limited to) the development, completion or presentation of new work; publication; travel for artistic research or to present or complete work; documentation of work; and advanced workshops for professional development.
GAPs are open to artists working in all creative disciplines including visual, performing, literary, media, emerging and cross-disciplinary arts, and folk and traditional arts. Applicants must be 18 years of age or older by application deadline date; be a generative artist; and be a resident of Washington State at the time of application and when the award is granted. Applicants may NOT be a graduate or undergraduate matriculated student enrolled in any degree program by deadline date. Continue reading
Tools of the trade. Photo: Mark Monson
While skimming through the index of a website that gathers pithy quotes about the act of writing, we found that the headings could be shaped, trimmed and rearranged into a fairly decent poem about the subject:
Writing is Heaven.
Writing is Hell.
Writing is Work.
Writing is Money.
Writing is Truth…and Fiction (see above).
Writing is Character.
Writing is Drama.
Writing is all these things and more. But to begin with, clear writing is a necessary tool for achieving goals in life, and this is the idea that the instructors at Write@253, Tacoma’s new writing center for students ages 6-18, will impart through an innovative program that offers one-on-one tutoring, free workshops, a drop-in writing room and creative publishing opportunities. Spaceworks Tacoma is proud to award Write@253 a six-month Creative Enterprise Residency in the Hilltop neighborhood where a staff of about 20 volunteers, including college-level instructors and staff, will begin tutoring in April. Continue reading