Arts & Entertainment

Art of Tacoma carries on in spite of gallery closings

Poster courtesy Music and Art in Wright Park.

If you’re an artist looking for opportunity, or just a nerd looking for a little culture, take a walk around!

The community is always supportive of good work, and right now Tacoma is filled with showcases of local talent.
Here is a list of active artists groups and events, which is by no means exhaustive:

Poster courtesy Art@The Mix

– Art @ the Mix
Art @ The Mix is a monthly art show at The Mix that focuses on getting local artists in the community together to create and showcase their art. Julian Peña has put on the event monthly for the past six months which might change when the artist starts classes at the UW Seattle campus this fall.

Art @ The Mix festivities have included body-painting, live figure drawing sessions, and creating a community painting that has constantly evolved as people have added  to it. Julian tries to bring the creative side of Tacoma together and start a movement, noting that there is “still a creative community despite all the galleries closing.” The Art@The Mix event that happened last Wednesday was floral themed, featuring floral art and floral drink specials.

– Dorky’s Bar Arcade and Poison Apple boutique
Poison Apple boutique is like a home-grown version of standard mall stores like Spencer’s Gifts or Hot Topic, except instead of high-priced franchise goods everywhere, you can find one-of-a-kind handmade stuff made by the shop-owner’s friends. If you make stuff, show it to Jooley and it might find a place for it on their shelves.
Across the street at Dorky’s, it’s hard not to be distracted by the bleeps, bloops, and crashes of the arcade and pinball machines, but if you stop and look around you’ll see they have interesting art on the wall and sell locally-made items in their candy display case (yes, there are duct-tape wallets). Owner and partner Caroline Dennewith said she would consider anyone’s art and people are more than welcome to communicate over email or Facebook about it.

– Music & Art in Wright Park
Tacoma’s upcoming live music/art fest didn’t happen last year. Thankfully, at this point, organizers say they have met their bare-minimum goal but are still rolling out the fundraisers and are on their way to rock the park on August 11. Local artists have donated their work for these fundraisers for use in auctions and as raffle prizes. It’s all for the festival, but it certainly helps to have a little exposure and spread your work around.
Part of the reason event promoter Ken Johnson likes putting on the event (which has changed and evolved from other festivals and events over the years since the late 1990s) is to encourage and inspire the community, “make people go, ‘I could do this.’” They’ve had interest in bands from Seattle, but they’ve tried to keep it local. “It’s a Tacoma thing.”
Artist space is available for the festival. The fee is $50 and if you don’t have a City of Tacoma business license it’s an  additional $10 to use theirs. If you can’t make it to a fundraiser, they’re also taking donations through Kickstarter.

– Sanford and Son Antiques
This place is constantly evolving. A few months ago one could see signs throughout the middle floor boasting rents as low as $250 a month, and be in great company with storefronts like The Blue Octopus, Urban Gardener Antiques, The Tea Room, and other amazing shops that love local art and getting to know people in the community.

– Shops in the Triangle District and Sixth Avenue
When you look around the shops and boutiques, you find locally-made stuff everywhere. Shopkeepers at places like A Little Touch of Magick love to point out the locally-made jewelry and interesting items like lipstick made in Portland.

– Spaceworks Tacoma
Tacoma is a city that supports the arts, and that becomes clear when you see projects supported by Spaceworks Tacoma.
Handmade home decor shop Poppy & Co was started as The Modern Cottage Co. on a Spaceworks grant, and shopkeepers have said things have worked out well for them since their grant ran out and they moved to their new location on Broadway. Crafty people looking for a place to sell their wares are encouraged to contact the shop owners.
There’s lot’s going on with Spaceworks, so be sure to check out their website at

– …and pretty much anywhere!
Most store owners are very receptive to the idea of showcasing local work. If you’re a local artist trying to pimp your wares, find a cool place and strike up a conversation with the shopkeeper. It helps them make their place look a bit nicer. You just hang it with a price tag and some contact info and you’re good to go!