Tag Archives: Fab 5

Photos from High Five!

15 Sep

Photo: Spaceworks Tacoma

Thanks to everyone who came out last Saturday for High Five!, Spaceworks’ fifth anniversary community celebration!

Artists, creative entrepreneurs and community members like you have made Spaceworks possible over the last five years—and we are truly grateful! Thank you, too, to everyone who pitched in to make High Five! possible: Spaceworks’ alums, volunteers, steering committee members and attendees! High five to you!

The following is a series of photographs of the event from Kris Crews of Crews Creative.

If you attended and took photos, we’d love to see them! Tag Spaceworks on Facebook and Instagram or send them via email to gabrielb@tacomachamber.org or heatherj@tacomachamber.org.

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Performances + Activities at High Five! on Sept. 12

2 Sep

Our Sept. 12 community celebration on Hilltop is coming up fast, and we’ve got more details to share about the fabulous lineup of performances and activities.

If you haven’t already had a chance to RSVP for the event or sign up to volunteer, now’s the time!

Image: Video still from Crews Photography & Video,

High Five! Spaceworks’ Community Celebration will take place in People’s Park and the 900-block of MLK Jr. Way. Image: Video still from “Spaceworks Tacoma, new building on MLK” by Crews Photography & Video, Sculpture: “Mystery Exists Within the Void” by Douglas Granum

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High Five! Spaceworks’ Community Celebration on Sept. 12

13 Aug

Spaceworks is turning five years old, and we’re throwing a community celebration on Hilltop!


September 12, 2015, 4-11pm
People’s Park & 900 Block MLK

Also… unlimited high fives!


Since its founding in 2010, Spaceworks has been busy transforming empty storefronts and vacant space in Tacoma—activating 43 underused properties, assisting 73 creative businesses, and exhibiting 106 large-scale art installations.

“The artists and creative businesses that participate in Spaceworks often tell us that what they’ve done wouldn’t be possible without us,” says Heather Joy, Spaceworks Manager. “But we know that without their incredible talent and commitment, plus the support of our community, Spaceworks itself wouldn’t be possible. This party is a chance for us all to celebrate the creativity that makes Tacoma great.”

Here’s how the party will play out:

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2014 Tacoma Arts Month Opening Party & AMOCAT Arts Awards

26 Sep

Presented by the Tacoma Arts Commission and Spaceworks Tacoma


Thursday, October 2, 6-9pm
Tacoma Post Office Building
Awards start 7:45, Post Hall (4th floor)

Get out and have some fun while helping us kick off Tacoma Arts Month in style. Enjoy a stellar line-up of entertainment, art exhibitions, appetizers, dessert, and no-host bar. Help us honor the 2014 AMOCAT Arts Award winners and funding recipients. It’s all free and open to the public – pack up the family, invite your friends and come help us celebrate!  RSVP here, find it on Facebook, or just show on up.


Experience this giant line-up of happening in the newly-renovated Tacoma Post Office Building and help us honor the 2014 AMOCAT Arts Award winners and funding recipients.

The night’s arts and entertainment includes:
• Music by Speed Queen
• Exhibits of work by Jessica Spring and The Greater Tacoma Community Foundation’s Foundation of Art Award honorees
• Pop-up exhibits of work by Beautiful Angle, Isaac Olsen, Alice Di Certo, Kristin Giordano, The C.L.A.W., and Poly Rev
• Okinawa Taiko Drums
• Tintype photo booth by Kyle Dillehay
• Mini-theater performances by Working Class Theater
• Open studios of Abby Kok, Alana Tamminga, and Katlyn Hubner
• Trash Fashion Runway by Tinkertopia and Friends
• Poetry by Tacoma Poet Laureate Lucas Smiraldo
• Screenings of short films by Kat Ogden, Nick Butler, Kris Crews, Kate Walker, and The Grand Cinema

2014 AMOCAT Arts Awards, starts at 7:45 in Post Hall (4th floor):

Arts Patron – ArtsFund
Community Outreach by an Organization – Asia Pacific Cultural Center
Community Outreach by an Individual – Jessica Spring

2014 Tacoma Arts Commission funding recipients:
Arts Anchor Fund
The Grand Cinema, Hilltop Artists, Museum of Glass, Northwest Sinfonietta, Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma Musical Playhouse, Tacoma Opera, Tacoma Symphony, Tacoma Youth Symphony Association

Arts Projects
Asia Pacific Cultural Center, Children’s Museum of Tacoma, DASH Center for the Arts, Fab-5, Fort Nisqually Foundation, King’s Bookstore, Local Life, Monkeyshines, MLKBallet, Northwest Repertory Singers, Classical Tuesdays in Old Town, Puget Sound Poetry Connection, Second City Chamber Series, Sister City Council of Tacoma, Tacoma Concert Band, Tacoma Maritime Fest, the BareFoot Collective, University of Puget Sound, Washington State Historical Society

Tacoma Artist Initiative Program
Sean Alexander, Carla Barragan, Bill Colby, Alice Di Certo, Kyle Dillehay, David Domkoski, Oliver Doriss, Josie Emmons Turner, Sarah Gilbert, Erin Guinup, Meghan Mitchell, Mark Monlux, Kat Ogden, Scott Scoggin, Erik Steighner, Noah Struthers

Event Sponsors
Click! Cable TV, The Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, Tacoma Weekly, Northwest Public Radio, KPLU, Weekly Volcano, Premier Media Group, Exit133

Questions? Inquiries? 
Call Naomi Strom-Avila 253.591.5191

Beat, Graff, Break, Rap – Summer Workshops at FABITAT!

1 Jul
The Life Program - Free summer classes at Fabitat

The L.I.F.E. Program – Free summer workshops at FABITAT

Back at it, Spaceworks alumni Fab-5 are hosting The L.I.F.E. Program this summer.  “Living In Free Expression” is a fun, empowering opportunity for youth to make the most of their summer days.  Fab-5 describe it as “an intensive series of urban arts workshops designed to allow youth to develop and explore their unique voices through a variety of different mediums.”  This year’s workshops include:

Break Dancing
Legal Graffiti
Production/Beat Making

Tons of talent has bloomed from the past LIFE summer series.  The quality of education in the arts coming out of this program is impressive.  From community murals, to break dance performances, radio shows, fundraisers, and food drives students from this program have taken their work out into the community and truly made a mark on this town.

The program is free and open to all youth.  Starting at 11am sharp, each summer saturday, workshops run for three hours and include hands-on instruction and discussion with healthy snacks provided.   All workshops take place at FABITAT located at 1316 MLK Way, Tacoma, WA 98405.  Click here to register.

“Fab-5 believes that youth are the ones who influence others to change, and by empowering youth via self-expression, Fab-5 builds solid leaders and community minded individuals through mentorship, leadership and positive role models.”


Fab-5 hits new high with indoor graffiti commission

1 Jan
Art in 3-D: dedication party for the new Fab-5 mural at DCI headquarters in Kent.

Art in 3-D: opening party for the new Fab-5 mural at DCI headquarters in Kent. The art work extends through two floors and into the backrooms.

Fab-5 is taking graffiti art to new heights and kicking off 2013 on a high note: team artists Kenji Stoll, Chris Jordan, Troy Long and Travis Galindo recently completed a $90,000 art commission at the Kent, WA, headquarters of global electronics company, Digital Control Incorporated (DCI). They’ve created a multi-dimensional, two-story indoor mural that wraps around corners and hovers colorfully over workstations. It’s a work that’s sure to redefine “graffiti” and catapult it to a new level – one that integrates spontaneous, free-form painting with elegantly designed work space.

Located in the neighborhood of the Boeing Co., DCI headquarters is about as big as an airplane hangar, and it provided Fab-5 with an unimaginably exciting palette. The warehouse is a model of swank industrial design with large central spaces where there are no cubicles – instead, banks of large, lush plants and crystal-clear window dividers section off work areas. Because the company specializes in electronics, the place is immaculate – but in the most appealing way. Dogs are allowed visiting privileges, there is a pingpong table on the mezzanine, and for focused quiet time, there is a submarine-size tropical aquarium that is filtered from beneath by small, living mangrove trees. The company is a leading designer of drilling guidance systems with offices in Germany, China, India, Australia, and Russia.


Spaceworks alums Chris Jordan and Kenji Stoll at the dedication of the Fab-5 mural.

The challenge for Fab-5 was to create a visual environment that dozens of engineers and designers would all be amenable to working in (plastered in graffiti?), and that would complement the space’s clean architectural style. Oh, and a deadline of two months – that alone would keep the Five in respirator masks and working around the clock last summer.

The result of their efforts: an immersive environment that is over the top, and hard to describe. On the walls, cumulous clouds of color give birth to silhouettes of gadgets related to drilling guidance systems; Jordan and Stoll, the team’s liaisons, spent hours interviewing the engineers about their work and its components, and recorded motifs that would be catalysts for thought. Color and design merge to create a dynamism that keeps the eye moving from floor to ceiling and around corners. They didn’t hold back; as Jordan pointed out, going for generic graffiti effects would have doomed the work to the pleasantly dull realm of chain restaurant art. At the mural dedication, visitors were plainly awed by the work. Most importantly, the clients, founders Peter Hambling, and John and June Mercer, were elated.

We caught up with Kenji Stoll to ask him how the commission was executed, and how the four artists in Fab-5 managed to keep the collaboration rolling smoothly. Continue reading

It’s True – Artists Invigorate Neighborhoods

24 Feb

Tuesday was a hot night for Fabitat, Fab-5‘s super-tight creative lab on the Hilltop – and for Spaceworks Tacoma. The event was an exceptionally cheery fundraiser: hard to believe, but Fab-5 has been at it for 12 years mentoring local youth in the creative arts, and this was their first call for support, ever. Not only that, but the busy studio at 1316 Martin Luther King Way, which they occupied via a Spaceworks residency in 2011 and recently signed the lease for, is the team’s first-ever homebase. The Five’s dedication and leadership in igniting young minds through the visual and performing arts is the stuff urban dreams are made of. Attendees at Tuesday night’s event jostled to pledge support (you can make a donation here), and to sign the group’s door, graffiti-style.

Musician Nate Dybevik is an expert in piano restoration. Photo courtesy of Nate Dybevik.

At Spaceworks, such win-win situations (free space for creative entrepreneurs = potential paying tenants for landlords) are always cause for celebration. Fab-5 is but one of several Hilltop artists-in-residence who in the past year have activated a once dormant commercial zone and seeded the area around the Fulcrum Gallery with fresh life. Nate Dybevik also recently signed the dotted line and gained a permanent address for his “piano museum” (he is a musician who rebuilds pianos) and music studio. During its tenure, Toy Boat Theatre performed a miraculous facelift on a sterile office space, drew new audiences to the neighborhood with six months of high-caliber drama, and left an indelible mark before moving on.

We thought it was time to catch up with these Spaceworks alums and hear about their experiences in their own words.

* * * * *

The transformation of the 1300 block of “Hilltopia” in 2011 wouldn’t have been possible without the generosity of the Marie Thorp Wilson Trust, owners of the Thorp Building (where two of the four original. rent-free residency spaces are now leased by Fab-5 and Dybevik). According to Thorp family member Jeanette Sorenson, while the Trust’s intention has been to sell the Thorp Building, “It has been a blessing to have [it] occupied, especially by groups that appreciate the opportunity to try their wings at a business venture….By opening the building to the Spaceworks program, [it] has changed from a vacant, cold building to a lively, warm building that shows its true character.”

Sorenson admits to initial hesitation about the venture. But “after interviewing Rebecca [Solverson] and Amy [McBride, City of Tacoma Arts Administrator], it became clear that this would be a good way to occupy the trust building along with helping the K Street community grow in a positive way.” Sorenson’s family ties to Tacoma run deep: as a young man her grandfather, Theodore Martin Thorp, followed his cousin, Thea Foss, from Wisconsin to Tacoma. In 1967, her father, Bud (“Blind Man”) Thorp, “built the Thorp Building on property he had purchased when he was discharged from the Army Air Corps, a decorated airman.” Spaceworks is grateful to help usher in a new wave of activity at the Thorp Building.

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Generation Next: Bustin’ Out on the Hilltop

21 Aug

Scratchin' an itch at Fabitat.

Last Thursday was party time in T-town, and not just because it was one of the few scant days of decent weather we’ve had this summer. No, not even crazed climatological activity could’ve checked the migration of artists and Third Thursday faithful who made their way to the Hilltop to celebrate Spaceworks’ first anniversary. Since last summer, this award-winning project linking artists with vacant retail space has supported more than 60 art exhibits, residencies and performance spaces; helped out scores of artists with rent (they don’t pay any); and energized downtown Tacoma in the process.

Fabitat offers computer instruction in their creative lab.

In case you’ve been holed up in the proverbial cave, a cluster of new Spaceworks art and performance venues have sprung up like mushrooms in the fertile soil around 11th St. and Martin Luther King Way (long-time stomping grounds of the Fulcrum Gallery). Scads of young people crowded the sidewalk at Fabitat, Fab-5‘s headquarters for the urban arts. Tacoma, meet Generation Next! It took about five seconds to grasp what an important and electric scene Eddie Sumlin, Chris Jordan, Kenji Stoll and Katie Lowery, the collective genius behind Fab-5, have hatched on the Hilltop through their non-profit, arts mentoring and instructional lab. The Fabitat program is a magnet for youth who on this night were celebrating with art- and music-making outside, while talking art and clicking away on computers inside. The place looks fantastic; what had been a lifeless commercial space has been beautifully reanimated with art and dance studios, and throbbing wall-size murals by local youths.

An added treat: guest performances by a Fab-5 neighbor, DASH Center for the Arts. DASH (“where Dancing, Acting, and Singing are always in Harmony!!”) offers affordable performing arts education to the youth and families of Tacoma.

P.R. specialist Hayley Hilmes works the green room at Toy Boat Theatre.

Next up on this hot strip of Hilltop was Toy Boat Theatre (TBT) entertaining visitors with short stage readings, stand-up comedy and stage combat. The acting troupe, headed by Marilyn Bennett, has been feeling flush after a mostly sold-out run of the play, Dakota’s Belly, Wyoming. It’s hard to describe what a terrific transformation TBT’s performance space has undergone during their Spaceworks residency, thanks to a lot of elbow grease and help from partners at the University of Puget Sound. And it’s paid off: around 200 people attended a recent opening, says Bennett. TBT’s only wish is that they had constructed the interior with “a smaller lobby and a bigger house [for audience seating].”

Rounding out the Hilltop hive, at N. Dybevik Co., musician/composer Nate Dybevik jammed with Fritha Strand Davern, Gary Kawamura, and Olympia band You are Plural, pulling in gallery goers with honky tonk and blues. In Dybevik’s mainspace, visitors were allowed to get up close and personal with the exquisite antique pianos Nate is restoring for his Spaceworks residency, under the tutelage of internationally known expert, Obi Manteufel. Classical instruments and devil’s music make intriguing bedmates at this studio, where Dybevik’s Jekyll/Hyde range of musical interests is allowed to run wild.

Nate Dybevik rocks the keyboards at his studio.

Next door at Fulcrum, gallery owner Oliver Doriss opened his cavernous back room for Hilltopatomic, a 21+ night of music and poetry. The Taqueria Las Torres taco truck and Jeff’s Ice Cream were keeping people well-fed and happy as we headed downtown to check out more Spaceworks art.

James Sinding's "Words": the medium is the message.

First stop: Tollefson Plaza, where James Grayson Sinding has transformed T-town’s most overlooked open space into a giant message board with his art installation, Words. This valentine to Tacoma is an ambitious riff on his award-winning 2010 work, Letters. Though it opened barely two weeks ago, when Sinding drove a dumptruck’s worth of handmade signage (resembling refrigerator magnets) to the plaza, about half the words have already been absconded with – a sign of the public’s ongoing obsession with his work.

Folks were snapping pictures on Broadway, where three excellent and diverse installations fill the long bays across from the Pantages Theatre. Seattle artist Rebecca Maxim‘s tribute to the struggle of HIV/AIDS patients – a translucent couture gown made from pharmaceutical packaging – is as seriously campy as the nom de guerre she has adopted, “Alotta De Tritus.” Anette Lusher makes an argument for reclaiming/reusing/recycling with her ingenious sculptures made of straws – more than 200,000 of them that quiver at the touch of a hand. And Julia Barbee‘s bulbous, hanging cloth sculptures covered with glittering white crystals become all the more fascinating when one learns she grew them herself…

Ivan, the B & I gorilla, immortalized in a Wayzgoose steamroller print.

At the Woolworth Building, we were pleased to see viewers walking (not driving) around the building’s window exhibits. It’s worth taking the time for a close look at work by artists including photographer Jennifer Adams, and a gaggle of talented Wayzgoose printmakers whose bold Tacoma-centric posters span seven years. We overheard bus commuters talking about the mysterious caribou filling a Commerce Street installation, CODA (“Did you know the deer is an archetype?” asked one bus rider, after noting that his father was a hunter). Michiko Tanaka‘s MODblog emitted a lonely glow at the Tollbooth Gallery. It was a full night of art viewing, from breakdancing at Fabitat to making the circuit of Woolworth’s. If we could’ve picked two words from James Sinding’s Words installation, they would be, “Tacoma Rocks.”

Reading between the lines at James Sinding's "Words."

A wild mystery: CODA.

Takin' it to the street at Fabitat.

Julia Barbee's cantaloupe-size sculptures encrusted with crystals seems unnaturally at home in this industrial space.

Amazing grace: a breakdancer wows visitors at Fabitat.

Update! Spaceworks 1st Anniversary Party

16 Aug

Here’s a little more info about the block party this Thursday, August 18. It’s 5pm-8pm, 1310-1316 MLK, followed by a 21+ show at Fulcrum Gallery, 1308 MLK. Performances will start around 6pm and last into the night…

Grab a treat from Taqueria Las Torres taco truck or Jeff's Ice Cream, cash only.

Performances by:
DASH Center for the Arts: music and dance by DASH teams

N. Dybevik Co.: music by Fritha Strand Davern, Nate Dybevik, Gary Kawamura, and Olympia band You are Plural.

•Toy Boat Theatre: stand-up comedy, stage combat, short stage scenes

•Fab-5: DJ, break dancing, live painting

Plus…take a look back at all of the projects Spaceworks has supported since starting last summer. Over 60 projects in 21 spaces!!

After the public party, head over to Fulcrum for a night of music and poetry.  Doors at 8pm, 21+, $7 cover.

Performers include: 6 Deep the Messenger (Spoken Word, Tacoma), Miz Floes (Poet, Seattle), Makeup Monsters (indie music, Tacoma), Tallest Tree (indie music, Tacoma), Jalen (DJ, NYC), BROAM (DJ, Hilltop), E.S. (DJ, Tacoma), Chonie Diego (DJ, Electronic)



•Fab-5 is a team of graffiti artists whose goals extend far beyond physical walls: the non-profit group provides local youth with mentoring in the arts. This summer, Fab-5 is launching FABITAT, a creative enterprise that connects diverse youth with practicing arts professionals in a multi-purpose instructional lab provided by Spaceworks Tacoma. http://www.fab-5.org.
•Theater pros Marilyn Bennett, Jen Davis and Alex Smith have joined forces with the University of Puget Sound and Spaceworks Tacoma to develop a number of performances through fall 2011. Keep an eye on future performances and readings at http://www.toyboattheatre.com.
•Nate Dybevik is a musician, a composer and a visual artist; he is also learning the fine art of piano rebuilding – a skill he is acquiring from internationally renowned expert Obi Manteufel and fine-tuning in a space provided by Spaceworks.

•D.A.S.H. Center for the Arts, where Dancing, Acting, and Singing are always in Harmony!!  D.A.S.H. Center for the Arts offers quaility, affordable performing arts education to the youth and families of Tacoma.  Classes such as ballet, jazz, hip hop, breakdance, voice, acting for stage, piano, drums, guitar, creative writing, studio recording…just to name a few, are all available to you, at the D.A.S.H. Center.  Classes are open to everyone, every background, age 4 and above!!  For more info: (253) 507-9466 or info@thedashcenter.org

Celebrate Spaceworks Tacoma’s First Anniversary

9 Aug

Did you know that Spaceworks is one year old this summer? Help us celebrate a year of installations, residencies, and creative enterprises at our newest location.

Aug. 18, 5 to 8 p.m., 1310-1316 Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Way.

Four new storefront spaces will open with performances and demonstrations throughout the evening including dance, theatre, music, visual art and a few surprises by current Spaceworks projects Fab-5, N. Dybevik Co., Toy Boat Theatre Company and neighboring arts organization DASH Center for the Arts.

Food from Taqueria Las Torres taco truck and Jeff’s Ice Cream will be available for purchase throughout the evening, cash only.

After the public celebration, Fulcrum Gallery will host Hilltopatomic, an evening of live video, fine art and performance featuring indie music, poetry, spoken word and urban electronic music. The gallery is located at 1308 MLK Way. Doors open at 8 p.m. – $5 cover charge, 21+.

We’ll be posting more details soon!

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