UPLIFT-ING Tacoma Through Art & Culture

Uplift Tacoma is a way to make creative lemonade out of adversity’s lemons. Sharing music, visual arts, performances and creative activities can offer inspiration and support in tough times.

That’s the goal of Tacoma’s Office of Arts & Cultural Vitality in launching an initiative labeled Uplift Tacoma, according to Amy McBride, arts administrator for the City of Tacoma. The multimedia platform is designed to help Tacoma residents access and share creative activities through social media, TV Tacoma and a centralized website.

Uplift Tacoma is designed to celebrate creative and inspirational practices and family fun. Maybe weeks of physical distancing offered a chance to revisit old skills or develop new ones. “Now it’s time to inspire others,” McBride said.

“There’s a tremendous amount of talent in this community,” McBride said. “Now people are dusting off the guitars they haven’t played for years. People will have developed different skills. They’re asking, ‘Where can I find support for areas I’m rediscovering.’”

Uplift Tacoma wants to be sure people can find connections. The program sets a platform to share the interesting creative experiences that are happening. It is a place to display talents and to enjoy the talents of others.

“Community isn’t canceled. Love isn’t canceled. Soul isn’t canceled,” McBride reminded. “Who knows what talents will be offered.”

McBride recommends logging on to TacomaCreates.org. The City-sponsored site lists dozens of arts organizations whose activities can inspire artists, ranging from the Asia Pacific Cultural Center, Buffalo Soldiers Museum, Centro Latino, Hilltop Artists and Tacoma Youth Theatre to the city’s popular museums, Symphony Tacoma, jazz with the Kareem Kandi World Orchestra and literary arts with Write253.

Learn about Uplift Tacoma by watching a video produced by Darryl Crews. Go to TacomaCreates.org.

“We have a rich diversity of offerings in our community,” McBride added. “Uplift Tacoma offers support as we connect to healing and health and joy.”


Uplift Tacoma

“Summer Expressions” in Gig Harbor

Harbor History Museum is pleased to host “Summer Expressions,” an exhibit of artwork from four of the most accomplished women painters of Washington. Artwork on display is by Judy Perry, Jeannie Grisham, Patsy O’Connell, and Janice Taylor.

“We are excited to feature these beautiful works of art in our Lobby. The paintings blend bold color and form with subtleties of nature for a perfect summer exhibit,” says Stephanie Lile, museum director.

Here is some of what the artists themselves would like to share about their artwork and inspiration:

Jeannie Grisham 

The joy in painting for me lies in the process of creating. As soon as I dip my brush in water, load it with the pigment and introduce it to the paper, I’m in a different world. The painting starts with transparent watercolor and continues developing darks while managing to keep the lights. Having recently moved from Bainbridge Island to Gig Harbor, I am continually obsessed with water and things around the water. The feeling of trees and the blues of the water are my inspiration. 

Judith Perry 

Judith Perry was educated at PLU, SUNY/Albany and the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. Her work is representational in both oil and watercolor. Both figure work and landscape emphasize light. She grew up around water and rain in Raymond, Washington and now resides in Tacoma.

“Drawing has always been captivating—seeing the line and shadows led to painting,” Judith says. “Dropping color onto canvas brings energy and passion to my vision of the world.”                                                                                  

Patsy O’Connell

My creative work constitutes a promise to myself to continue to explore my heritage while becoming American. I was born in China to Korean parents and lived my early life in Korea until I came to the United State in 1963. I also lived in and traveled to many Asian Pacific countries. Everywhere I have been, I realize there are common threads and universal themes to people’s experiences. I believe that our personal history, cultural backgrounds, and genetic make-up inform who we are as individuals. 

The central thrust of my work is to synthesize my cultural experiences to reflect the duality of my personal history. The framework for my visual language is served through the use of cultural icons, patterns, metaphors, and symbolism. Thematically, I try to explore the complexity of life and transitory nature of the human condition.

Janice Taylor

I loosely base my compositions on that of classical landscape painting with the positioning of forms carefully placed to present a harmonious, balanced, and timeless visual aesthetic. In my palette choices, I explore color combinations that are unexpected in contrast with those found in nature. 

These abstract landscapes embody both serenity and instability, resulting in a dreamlike tension from which subjective narratives can be born. I create pieces that consciously allow for open interpretation and multiple perspectives. They reflect a search for meaning in unfamiliar landscapes.

15 Years of Contemporary Native Arts

Washington State Historical Society’s annual juried exhibition, IN THE SPIRIT Contemporary Native Arts, is celebrating its fifteenth anniversary this year! The gallery has opened in the virtual realm as of July 16, and Washington State History Museum hopes to install the exhibition in their galleries later this summer when museums are reallowed to reopen. The exhibition’s 24 works by 20 artists range from whimsical to poignant and will never fail to lift your spirits.

Each iteration of IN THE SPIRIT is different, yet visitors will recognize some of the 2020 artists, including Peter Boome, Denise Emerson, RYAN! Feddersen, Dan Friday, Lily Hope, Linley Logan, Jeffrey Veregge, Matika Wilbur and George Zantua. The artists used a vast array of materials to create their textiles, paintings, basketry, photography, sculptures and carvings, and each piece shows that the past often weaves with the present and cultural traditions can blend beautifully with contemporary practices.

Each year, a jury reviews artists’ submissions for the exhibition. The remote 2020 jury included Todd Clark (Wailaki), Miranda Belarde-Lewis (Zuni/Tlingit), and Charles W Bloomfield (Pyramid Lake Paiute). “During these troubled times it would be easy to dismiss art as non-essential, and to an extent this is understandable. But then again, if life imitates art, perhaps art can help lift us and point us to a better future,” shared lead juror Todd Clark. “It was contemporary Native artists who first showed me what it looked like to be Native and living in the 21st century, where we retained our past, heritage and culture and yet thrived in the modern world. This is the power of art to me.”

Building on the success of the annual exhibition and festival, WSHS began collaborating with other museums in the Tacoma Museum District. In the last few years, both the Tacoma Art Museum and the Museum of Glass have joined IN THE SPIRIT to share their unique galleries and artists.

“The three museums have worked together to grow the festival to celebrate emergent Native artists as well as the Indigenous cultures present in the Northwest,” said Molly Wilmoth, the History Museum’s lead programs manager. “Our free market draws thousands of people each year. So with the pandemic, we have expanded our advisory committee. They will help guide us in creating a virtual festival and arts market that will offer access to inspiring artists and educate patrons about contemporary Native arts.”

IN THE SPIRIT is supported in part by the Tacoma Arts Commission, South Sound Magazine, The Norcliffe Foundation, and Humanities Washington. Find out more at InTheSpiritArts.org.

Celebrating Craft Visionary Lloyd Herman

The Renwick Gallery

Lloyd Herman, one of the leading authorities on the contemporary craft movement, has won the admiration and respect of art institutions both across the country and internationally.  Herman’s experiences have most recently inspired Northwest Designer Craftsmen to produce an exciting new documentary about his life and his work promoting various crafts.

It’s easy to see why Herman was selected for the next Living Treasures video documentary. He was instrumental in the opening of the Renwick Gallery, a branch of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and soon afterwards became the gallery’s first director. The gallery featured unique exhibitions that showcased pieces from a variety of materials and drew in large crowds. Lloyd Herman’s success at the Renwick Galley also brought with it many opportunities for his shows to travel to other countries, making him an instant emissary for American craft to audiences worldwide.

From there, the Renwick Gallery was able to broaden its program into an international venue for craft and design. Lloyd was energized by the challenges that came with establishing a premiere venue for contemporary craft, and from 1972 to 1986 presented over 100 exhibitions to achieve his goal of having contemporary craft join its rightful place among the Smithsonian’s family of museums.

And his career didn’t slow down from there. After his time as director of the Renwick Gallery, he said that he “hit the ground running with about three exhibition proposals that I was unable to do at the Renwick.” Over the next ten years his expertise was in constant demand, from helping the Cartwright Gallery in Vancouver B.C. to become the Canadian Craft Museum in 1988, to becoming the acting senior curator for planning the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, WA in 1998.

The documentary on his life is scheduled to be released just in time for the 50th anniversary of the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery, in honor of where this craftsman’s legacy all began! For more information, visit the Northwest Designer Craftsmen website


Garden of Delights Gala– Live!

Due to the extension of Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home” mandate, Tacoma Arts Live’s annual gala is taking a new shape as it pivots from the traditionally formal, in-person occasion to a creative, digitally produced live experience. Tacoma Arts Live’s 2020 Gala: Garden of Delights is a fundraiser to support education through the arts programs. It will be held on Friday, May 29 at 7:30 p.m., and will be streamed on YouTube Live and Facebook Live. The Gala is free to view, and guests are encouraged to register in advance to participate in the auction.

The event will share entertainment provided by Enjoy Productions and several deluxe auction packages. Additionally, an online silent auction begins May 23 through June 1.

Patrons who already purchased tickets to the in-person Gala will receive a Party Package delivered to their home that includes specialty cocktail ingredients and other festive party surprises to enjoy during the main event. Guests who register in advance to bid online will be invited to join an exclusive virtual happy hour that will share step-by-step instructions to create their cocktails for the night.

Tacoma Arts Live has developed one of the largest arts education programs in the nation, and the annual gala supports their arts programs, which serve between 55,000 students, teachers, and family members annually through a rich blend of services in the South Sound region and beyond. Tacoma Arts Live invests in the future by providing dynamic programs that focus on shared growth and expression and using the arts as a tool for social development.

The Tacoma Arts Live 2020 Gala: Garden of Delights is free to watch, but to participate in giving, guests must register early for the online auction. To make a donation in advance, visit the Tacoma Arts Live website here.


CHAIRity Silent Auction

To support our neighbors, JayRay has launched the JayRay CHAIRity Silent Auction on May 26. Proceeds will benefit the PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED:COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, which grants dollars to organizations serving Pierce County’s most vulnerable populations. 

Chairs painted by six tacoma artists will be available to the highest bidders. An everyday dining chair has suddenly become something we all rely on while at home. For some, it has become an office. A classroom. Or,  a place to think. And far too many of our neighbors don’t know the comfort of having their own. 

Join JayRay’s CHAIRity Silent Auction on May 26. Proceeds will benefit the PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED:COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, which grants dollars to organizations serving Pierce County’s most vulnerable populations. 

Chairs painted by six tacoma artists will be available to the highest bidders. An everyday dining chair has suddenly become something we all rely on while at home. For some, it has become an office. A classroom. And far too many of our neighbors don’t know the comfort of having their own. 

Together, we can help.

Thank you to our talented commissioned artists including Angela Larsen / Lovesome Dove, Brandi LaPointe, Chris Sharp, Katie Johnson, Saiyare Refaei, and Tiffany Hammonds.

Bidding will be open from 9 a.m. PST on May 26  to 5 p.m. PST on June 1.


Coloring for Cash and Community

O Bee plans to  donate $6,000 to local food banks as part of their Washington State Color-for-Cash contest. In the past weeks, food banks around Washington have seen an extraordinary increase in the demand for food and are in need of cash donations and volunteers. O Bee plans to draw awareness to this need with a coloring contest.

People who enter the Color-for-Cash contest will have a chance to win one of six cash prizes, from $750 to $250, totaling $3,000. O Bee will match the cash awards by donating $3,000 each to Thurston County and Pierce County Food Banks.

Community food bank

“The benefits of adult coloring books have been well established,” said Lee Wojnar, VP of Marketing at OBee Credit Union. “Coloring has been shown to have a relaxing and calming effect on the brain. We think now might be a good time for a bit of coloring,” he added with a smile.

The contest winners will be drawn randomly. “We’re not expecting a Picasso, we are just encouraging people to take a break from the distractions of these difficult times to calm their brains. As an incentive, we’re giving cash prizes too. It’s for a bit of fun,” said Wojnar.

Entrants may choose from six different coloring pages, each depicting a Washington-inspired scene, including whales, wine country and Mt. Rainier. Paul A. Lanquist, a Washington-based artist and illustrator, designed the coloring pages. The natural beauty of Washington is an important influence in his work. 

The Color-for-Cash contest begins Friday, April 24, 2020 at 1pm. Winners will be randomly drawn on Monday, June 1, 2020 at noon. Open to Washington state residents and O Bee members. For terms and conditions and to enter the contest, go to www.obee.com/color

Cultural Connections: Remote Learning

You can’t visit a museum right now, but Tacoma’s Museum District’s cultural organizations are undaunted by closed doors. They’ve pivoted to offer a bevy of opportunities for cultural enjoyment, education and even community connection during the stay home-stay healthy protocol. If you’re eager to supplement social studies for kids learning at home, learn about art and artists as a family, explore the depths of the Puget Sound, find playtime ideas and even wish upon a car, it’s as easy as linking into the websites of these world-class museums.

Tacoma Art Museum
Having closed our doors in mid-March, TAM increased our mission-focused work in the digital space. TAM at Home provides hands-on art making activities for families related to pieces in TAM’s collection. Additionally, people can view 70% of TAM’s permanent collection through eMuseum. Everyone is invited to spend time looking at collections created by museum curators and create your own digital exhibition with the objects. Deep dives into individual artworks, as well as, posts of community artwork based on TAM’s collection #insipiredbytam can be found on TAM’s Facebook, Instagram and YouTube channels.

Resources can be found at: http://www.tacomaartmuseum.org/tam-at-home

Washington State History Museum
Washington State History Museum is encouraging connection and learning through creative remote engagement opportunities for all ages. Washingtonians are invited to share your COVID-19 experiences and contribute digital content for the museum’s collections, documenting this significant historic event in real time. You’re also invited to download the museum’s new free app to remotely explore exhibitions, dive into History Lessons To Go for all grade levels, and try out coordinated activity sheets that can be used hand-in-hand with the app. Interviews with historians and writers are at your fingertips with the Columbia Conversations history podcast, and readers can peruse the COLUMBIA magazine archives on the museum’s website for more fascinating articles about Northwest history. The History At Home page on the museum’s website provides downloadable history coloring pages and curriculum for multiple age groups.

The Historical Society is on the cusp of launching the Washington Stay Home Society, a series of uplifting public programs that bring us together while apart. Participants can follow along to make historic cocktails while learning the history of spirits in Washington, join in a History Lab activity at home, get crafty with a collage-as-storytelling session, and more. Stay tuned for the launch!

Resources can be found at: www.WashingtonHistory.org/HistoryAtHome

Foss Waterway Seaport
Foss Waterway Seaport is offering daily virtual programming for all ages. From preschool Super Seastar classes to up-close and personal in a whale skeleton to live Seaport Stories with local influencers.

Resources can be found at: https://fosswaterwayseaport.org/explore-virtual-education-programs/

Greentrike, home of the Children’s Museum of Tacoma, is facilitating a day camp for preschool aged children of first responders, health care professionals, and frontline essential workers. Digitally, Greentrike has created online playful resources for families with young children. This includes video storytimes, sing-alongs, and circletimes that are designed to encourage play and joy for children birth – 8 years old. 

Resources can be found at: https://www.playtacoma.org/play-at-home

Museum of Glass
While our normal operation is paused, there are still plenty of ways to engage with MOG. Get hands-on with these fun, family-friendly art projects at home.

Resources can be found at: https://www.museumofglass.org/mog-craft-projects?mc_cid=c59e393a56&mc_eid=c1190ff9ac

LeMay – America’s Car Museum
You might not be able to visit your favorite hotrods, but there’s still activities to put a smile on the face of your young auto enthusiast:

·       Drawing Templates for Young Designers, so they can create their own dream ride.

·       Lesson Plans You Can Do in Your Kitchen, including: Crash-Test Cars, Biofuel Basics and Stylish Speed

·       And, Coloring Sheets for Young Car Lovers, including: 1908 Ford Model T, 1960 Chevrolet Corvette, 1966 Ford Mustang, 1966 Volkswagen Beetle

Additionally, you can join us on Facebook or Instagram for periodic contests, games, and curator presentations.

Resources can be found at: https://www.americascarmuseum.org/learn/athome/

TAM Provides Connection to Art Online

While we are all spending more time at home, Tacoma Art Museum is continuing to provide mission-focused content via the Museum’s website and digital channels during the Museum’s closure. Utilizing TAM’s permanent collection on eMuseum people can view and interact with the collection from their home computers.

“TAM’s eMuseum is a great way to get to know the collection. While it is typical that a museum has on average about 5% of their permanent collection on view at any one time, TAM strives to have close to 10% of our collection incorporated into our current exhibitions,” noted David Setford, Executive Director. “Through generous private and government support, TAM has about 70% of our collection viewable online allowing us to share this wonderful community resource even when we can’t provide access in person.”

In August 2009, Tacoma Art Museum received a Museums for America (MFA) grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to increase information related to its collection and make it accessible online. A second IMLS grant received in September 2014 supported digitization and new photography of the Museum’s permanent collection. Launched on November 1, 2011, TAM’s eMuseum is a work in progress. New objects, information, and updated photographs are being added to the database regularly. Currently, of the Museum’s 5,000 objects about 3,500 can be seen on eMuseum.  Additionally, there are several curated collections for visitors to enjoy including the following:  In Honor of Women’s History Month, Works by Native American Artists in the Northwest Art Collection, and Artists and the Environment.

 “While we don’t have every art work represented on eMuseum, we hope this is a way people can still be connected through art during this time of international crisis,” said Margaret Bullock, Interim Chief Curator and Curator of Collections and Special Exhibitions. Connect with Tacoma Art Museum’s database collection at: https://www.tacomaartmuseum.org/explore/collections/

Audubon/RYAN! at Tacoma Art Museum

In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, Tacoma Art Museum is presenting an exhibition exploring the themes of animals, environmentalism, and conservation, as depicted through the works of renowned naturalist and artist John James Audubon (1785-1851) and Tacoma-based contemporary mixed media artist RYAN! Feddersen, an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation.

The Naturalist & The Trickster: Audubon/RYAN! includes 36 original hand painted lithographs from Audubon’s portfolio of North American viviparous quadrupeds. Like Audubon’s earlier works, these images are beautifully detailed and accurate both anatomically and biologically. In contrast, Feddersen uses a 75-foot long monochrome mural to explore Coyote, a popular trickster character in Native stories, as he navigates the American West, seeing the harrowing effects of industrialism and resource extraction on the environment. The public is being invited to color the mural using crayons cast in the shape of coyote bones during several special events.

Although centuries apart, Audubon and Feddersen draw inspiration from animals and the natural world to create compelling works that urge us to better understand the human impact on the environment. “Juxtaposing these two artists presents a very immersive and thought-provoking experience regarding perceptions of the natural world and relationships between humans and the environment,” said Faith Brower, TAM’s Haub Curator of Western American Art.

“During Audubon’s life his, prints were one of the ways that scientific information from the American West could be shared and studied. His respect and concern for the natural world clearly marks him as one of the forefathers of the modern conservation and environmental movements,” noted Brower. “Feddersen’s engaging storytelling presents a contemporary perspective on the interactions of humans, animals, and the natural world in humorous and compelling ways.”

The Naturalist & The Trickster: Audubon/RYAN! runs through May 10. Contribute your artistry to the mural during the following events:

  • Neighborhood Nights: every Thursday from 5-8 p.m. through May 7
  • Second Saturdays: from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. through May 9
  • Earth Day Celebration: Sunday, April 19, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.


For more information:

Tacoma Art Museum

1701 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma

(253) 272-4258

visit www.tacomaartmuseum.org