Archive | November, 2010

Two Views of Thanksgiving

25 Nov

Killer Whale (qalʼqaləx̌ič), by Shaun Peterson

For some, “Thanksgiving party” is defined as pulling on windproof layers and doing Tacoma’s 5k Turkey Trot. For others, the day’s course leads straight to a well-set table where barbarous guests ravish large poultry until the tryptophan kicks in, jettisoning them to dreamland.* Still others will be manning public kitchens for those in need of a place to spend the day.

Spaceworks Tacoma asked two local artists, Shaun Peterson and David Schimer, for their impressions of Thanksgiving. Peterson is a member of the Puyallup tribe, an accomplished sculptor who recently finished carving Tacoma’s monumental Welcome Figure, a 10-year project. The 20′, traditional cedar sculpture stands in Tollefson Square downtown, once the site of a tribal medicine house. Peterson says the above print, Killer Whale (qalʼqaləx̌ič), was inspired by childhood memories of visits to the small town of Tulalip, in Snohomish County, where his grandmother lived. “I recall the impression I had of how the killer whale image resonated with my relatives there, and in turn to me, as well,” he says. There are “characteristics that drive the connection….The bond of family and love of the water are two that come to mind.”

Intestinal Man, by David Schimer

David Schimer took a more material approach to Thanksgiving with a painting, and a poem, of sorts:

Intestinal Man
food into body and blood

living creatures
no surface view
very origins
DNA basics of life
common energy
cells, proteins, electro-chemical  process

Happy holidays!

*But, according to online sources (where everything is true and factual) a variety of meats contain equivalent amounts of the amino acid tryptophan to turkey, so it may not have been the big bird causing drowsiness all these years, but unseemly portions of alcohol and carbs. In other words, that’s not a turkey hangover you’re experiencing.

Spaceworks Artists in the News

24 Nov

Cinotto's studio mates, Nigel and Mimsey Frost. Photo: L. Cinotto

A sea of hand-made objects by Laurie Cinotto

Tacoma crafting wizard Laurie Cinotto is on her way to New York. Cinotto won a coveted spot at the Martha Stewart Holiday Craft Sale in New York City, garnering the most votes out of eight finalists along the way. Cinotto’s meticulous handmades, including witty corsages and boutonnières, and beautiful crepe paper bouquets, secured her a slot at the famous showcase. When she’s not creating fabulous adornments for jacket lapels, or for tabletops, the artist runs a local feline adoption program, The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee (and she raised a whopping $49,000 for the Humane Society last summer). See how Cinotto’s furry studio mates contribute to the creative process at

The War Experience Project, an exhibition organized by artist and Iraq veteran, Rick Lawson, was the subject of a special edition of the KBTC program, Northwest Now, recorded earlier this month (check listings for rebroadcast times). Because of its unique mission of helping veterans to tell their stories through art (using uniforms as a canvas), and its relevance to the Puget Sound military community, the WEP has received extensive media coverage since it opened on Nov. 11. More than 50 uniforms are on display at the gallery at 906 Broadway. Lawson will conduct on-site painting workshops for vets through mid-Feb. 2011. Hours: Wed. – Sat., 10am – 5pm; Sun., noon – 5pm. Information at (347) 927-3708, or contact

First-round Spaceworks artist Gretchen Bennett, who created a dusky tribute to Tacoma at the Woolworth Building, was shortlisted in Sept. for a Genius Award by the Seattle alternative weekly, The Stranger. It was Bennett’s second nomination for the $5,000 award, and only the latest recognition in a year that has included a showing of drawings in the Seattle Art Museum exhibition, Kurt, an homage to Kurt Cobain.

"Jack's Epitaph" (detail), by Lisa Kinoshita

Lisa Kinoshita‘s sculpture, What You Own, Owns You, is on view at the Tacoma Art Museum through Jan. 16, 2011. The Tacoma artist has been nominated for the Portland Art Museum’s second Contemporary Northwest Art Awards (formerly the Oregon Biennial). Five to eight artists working in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana or Wyoming, will be honored with a museum exhibition and catalog next year. Recipients will be announced in Jan. 2011.

Two Spaceworks artists whose work deals with our increasingly dystopic relationship to the planet, are recipients of 2010 Artist Trust GAP grants. Walla Walla artist Michelle Acuff received a $1,500 award to publish a catalog of sculptural works that explore “our tenuous liaison to the natural world.” Acuff’s work addresses the high price of consumer consumption as measured in the ubiquitous, poisonous substances used in industrial mass production. Her distortions of the natural world, such as in the blue deer (at right), inhabit a plane that is both saccharine and surreal.

Shelton-based artist Barbara De Pirro has been Resident Artist at the Museum of Glass in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Her 2010 Artist Trust GAP Grant, in the amount of $1,500, is providing support for new projects and public works. Artist Trust describes De Pirro’s work as “biomorphic sculptural forms and installations that subtlety express her ecological concerns. Designs conceived in her observations of nature are constructed reusing unnatural, reclaimed materials, and then placed in the world where they can be investigated and contemplated. This deliberate juxtaposition between form and material opens the door for subtle but infinite metaphorical meaning.” Find out more at

A Ben Hirschkoff cloudscape made of construction materials.

Artists Ben Hirschkoff and Alyson Piskorowski have been selected to create installations for the pilot program of Storefronts Seattle, a project of Shunpike modeled after Spaceworks Tacoma, and implemented in Pioneer Square and the International District. Hirschkoff will enliven his storefront exhibit with existing building materials, utilizing the vernacular of construction to create a large-scale sculpture. Piskorowski continues her elegant investigations into the geometry of space with the creation of flowing patterns in paper that engage passersby. Both installations will be on display from Dec. 2010 to Feb. 2011.

Drawing on Water

19 Nov

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea,” wrote Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. For Tacoma-born artist, Craig Snyder, Puget Sound was the mysterious, tide-driven entity that drew his father, a tugboat captain, away for long periods of time during his childhood. For wait, where am i?, a Spaceworks collaborative installation with Ruth Tomlinson, Tania Kupczak and Jessica Bender, Snyder is making one drawing each day based on the path of a Foss tug as it travels through Puget Sound. The abstract drawings are made of flowing forms based on daily satellite data as well as personal observation. Displayed one on top of the other, like the pages of a daily calendar, the line drawings have a meditative effect, drawing one into the progress of a journey without words. Snyder’s use of translucent vellum as a medium makes this an odyssey of luminous contours; ghostly tracings of movement can be seen through the layers. “Because his absence was often more noticeable than his presence, knowing which boat he was on provided a certain level of understanding and comfort,” he says of his dad. The documentation “serves to re-inform my understanding of my father’s life, and perhaps more importantly, to locate myself within it.”

The War Experience Project Opens Thursday, November 11

11 Nov

Art by Rick Lawson.

Opening on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, is Rick Lawson‘s War Experience Project, a compelling exhibition and art program in which veterans use military uniforms as a painting canvas. Lawson, an energetic, 28 year-old Iraq veteran, has received attention here and abroad for his creative vision of providing vets with a non-verbal means of relating their personal stories to those who have never worn a uniform. Spaceworks Tacoma is supporting the program with a three-month residency at 906 Broadway. The family-friendly project will feature painting workshops for veterans of any era, an exhibit of 50 finished art pieces, military memorabilia, and special temporary displays such as that of professionally “tattooed” prostheses. Please join us for the opening of this important show and community event on Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11, from 10am – 6:30pm. At 4:30pm, local writer and Vietnam veteran, Gary Prisk, will read from his book, Digger Dogface Brownjob Grunt.

Public television station KBTC will explore the War Experience Project in a special Veteran’s Day edition of Northwest Now on Thursday, Nov. 11, at 7:30pm (check online at for rebroadcast dates).

Nov. 13, 6pm – 10pm, the War Experience Project will host a reception for veterans who have contributed to the exhibit, including an unveiling of work created during a workshop at the Veterans Center in Tacoma.

Nov. 20, 11am – 3pm, veterans can participate in an acrylic painting workshop at 906 Broadway.

Regular gallery hours are 10am – 5pm, Wednesday through Saturday and 12pm – 5pm Sundays. For more information, contact Rick Lawson at (347) 927-3708, or

The War Experience Project would like to extend special thanks to Major General Timothy Lowenberg and Mary Lowenberg, Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Leneweaver, Major Matthew Cooper, and Catherine Senn, for their support of this project.

Art Around Town

10 Nov

wait, where am i? (detail by Jessica Bender)

Spaceworks round two is well under way, and we can only encourage those who haven’t made the rounds yet, to do so immediately. Some of the new exhibits, such as wait, where am i?, at the Woolworth Building, will morph throughout the three-month exhibition, and you won’t want to miss any stage of the transformation. Likewise, you can track the work of Spaceworks artists-in-residence, such as Michael Kaniecki, even if it’s through a rain-spattered window (consider the drizzle an opportunity to test drive your favorite, Northwest-ready technical gear).

Michael Kaniecki's endless drawing

Kaniecki can’t stop drawing. Since beginning his residency in mid-October at 1114 Pacific Ave., he has covered seeming miles of scrolled paper with India ink studies that somehow burst with spontaneity while at the same time adhering to a grid. One cannot resist attempting to interpret these deft drawings, many of which suggest multiple meanings, while resisting any single one. “I am starting a new drawing using India ink, wash and some earth pigment I ground from red rock in Moab, Utah,” says the Tacoma transplant. The new piece is 6′ and growing.

Italian-born photographer Alice di Certo‘s black-and-white cross-section of her adopted country, My America, is on view at the Woolworth Building, making the familiar look fresh all over again.

Alice di Certo at the Woolworth Building

Alexandra Opie interactive video at the Woolworth Building

Lines of the Earth, by Kyle Dillehay

Also in the Woolworth windows is Kyle Dillehay‘s haunting meditation on genetically modified food sources, Lines of the Earth. Behind one pane is a long, corpse-shaped, freshly turned mound of soil surrounded by dead roots; in the other bizarre organisms jut out on poles from the wall, some wearing tiny, forged copper helmets. The white walls form a sterile, laboratory-like environment.

Remembrances, by Scott Huette and Sisy Anderson

1970's resurrection, by Tiffanie Peters at Chiffon

A foliage-filled, pastoral response to Dillehay’s dystopia is Remembrances, by Sisy Anderson and Scott Huette. This subtly layered work is filled with individually cut and painted leaves, representative of the passage of time and the shifting nature of memory. Designer Tiffanie Peters resurrects the best of 1970’s style with her own star turn at Chiffon. This slinky dress in a bold print makes us think of mirror balls, Bianca Jagger, Halston and Iman, in the best way…

vortex plastica (detail), by Barbara De Pirro

Barbara De Pirro‘s vortex plastica fills the windows at 912 Broadway. Made from recycled and reimagined materials, it is a considered rebuke to a consumer society measured, in some respects, by its waste.

Creative brain trust and music headquarters, the Personal Power Company will open its doors at 913 Pacific Ave. on Nov. 17. More to come…

Support your Local Shakespeare Troupe

10 Nov

Bone lamps by Rob Zinkevich

Shakespeare in the Parking Lot is performing Titus Andronicus at 913 Pacific Ave. through Nov. 14. “Titus Andronicus has inspired all the horror movies now in existence,” says SITPL founder Kristie Worthey, with gleeful enthusiasm. It contains “every element used in every horror film.” SITPL puts a modern twist on the blood-and-guts classic with the use of digital imagery, and some of the action is delivered in the form of broadcast news. The group had a narrow window of opportunity in which to perform the play at 913 Pacific Ave., and prepared for it in record time: “We basically did it in Shakespeare’s style, because he would hand actors the script and in two weeks they would turn it around.” Order tickets at Inside the performance space, don’t miss Rob Zinkevich‘s eerily elegant bone lamps, made out of real animal vertebrae.

Personal Power Company Coming November 17

4 Nov

Photo courtesy of Kris Crews

If the kingpins of Mad Men produced renegade spawn, they might look a bit like the Personal Power Company, a collective of artists, musicians and creatives who take a smart, organic approach to new media. The PPC is a multimedia production company and think tank built around the idea that creativity is a sustainable resource. Their collaborative showroom/gallery and production house will showcase work by its members: Kris Crews, Bridgett Nicol, Ben Paris, Nicolas Hartzell, Phil Harty, Allan Boothe, and Jena Leigh-Kathryn Van-Stedtler.

Crews, a visual artist and filmmaker with a day job as a videographer/editor at Microsoft, describes the organically knit collaborative as “vibrant and approachable,” though “avant-garde in theological pedagogy.” Take that, Don Draper! The group’s mission is to deliver a solid creative package to audiences through a variety of media. PPC includes musicians, painters, cartoonists, designers and film professionals seeking to maintain financial sustainability through arts grants and the production of media content suitable for local outlets and public broadcasting networks. “By utilizing emerging Tacoma [talent], we are able to produce brilliant media that both utilizes and supports our community,” he says.

Nicolas Hartzell & Phil Harty of Going Shopping

PPC members bring diverse skills to the group: Bridgett Nicol is a videographer and an entrepreneur who created (and later sold) the successful Seattle children’s toy store, Planet Happy Kids; musicians Paris, Hartzell, Harty and Boothe round out the creative consortium. The PPC are recipients of a six-month Spaceworks Tacoma residency at 913 Pacific Ave., starting November 17. The large studio will do double-duty as a gallery/marketplace featuring and selling CD’s, DVD’s, tees and toys; and a workspace where the artists can produce multimedia, and host workshops (to be announced) for the public.

Carson Churchill & Allan Boothe of Humble Cub

Crews, who is a prolific documentarian of Tacoma’s independent music and art scene, proudly describes the creative trust as, “Recipients of uncultivated knowledge resting in the garden of verdant light.” You won’t find any one-size-fits-all brand of media here. Personal Power Company, 913 Pacific Ave., Nov. 17, 2010 – Jan. 2011.

Tea for Two…or 200

2 Nov

If you’re the kind who attends chichi gallery openings, grassroots fundraisers or charitable events around town, chances are good you’ve enjoyed the generosity of Maureen McHugh and Tobin Ropes, co-owners of the Mad Hat Tea Company. In fact, it’s inevitable, because these connoisseurs of tea (and owners of a gallery themselves) have absolutely no sense of proportion or restraint when it comes to supporting good causes with oceans of donated, exquisitely prepared leaf tea.

Mad Hat tea party (from left): Maureen McHugh, Sam Ropes and Judi Hyman

The Mad Hat is one of Tacoma’s most warmly regarded bohemian outposts; a sprawling, subterranean lair with moody lighting, and two seating areas where one can either lounge and check e-mail, or grab a stool at the bar for a proper tasting. Tucked away in the middle of downtown, the teashop offers a quiet space for contemplating a cup of fabulous, hand-blended leaf tea as well as a wide variety of art (some of our favorite is by Maureen herself, who creates amazingly intense India ink drawings, as well as Mad Hat’s beautiful, black-and-white tea labeling). When he’s not brewing the perfect elixir, or holding forth on any topic under the sun (the latter free of charge), Tobin coaches the rugby team at the University of Puget Sound.

Why do these two donate leaf to literally dozens of organizations each year? “Because it’s the right thing to do,” says Tobin. “I really think tea and art go together so well.” Discover the magic of the Mad Hat Tea Company at 1127 Broadway; 253.441.2111. Open 10am – 5pm (never earlier, sometimes later). Contact:

Emily's art dolls at Mad Hat

An art shrine at Mad Hat












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