Celebrate, Learn and Connect at Alma Mater

The green velvet furniture is heavenly. (With brass handles!) Every angle is photo worthy. Marble meets wood meets mid-century meets when-can-I-move-in. Delectable cocktails are crafted with experienced hands. (Try the House Old Fashioned or warm up with Gold Dust Woman’s brown butter washed bourbon, Belgian Candi syrup and cherry bark vanilla bitters.) Luscious banana-leaf wrapped salmon. Octopus tentacles cooked to perfection with chickpea ragout that has never tasted so good. Grandma would be so proud of Matriarch Lounge.  

People stream through the doors heading for Tacoma Night Market, a popular evening gathering of makers, artists and creators. (Think Farmers Market, but replace fresh produce and flowers with beautiful hand-painted glass vases, mandala art and succulents in llama planters.) 

Earlier in the day, across the expansive foyer housing unique displays by local artists, Honey Coffee + Kitchen bustled with meetings, conversations, pork verde huevos rancheros (or jackfruit verde for the veggies!), powdered sugar floating off Monte Cristos, the espresso and tea elevating guests. 

And this is just the beginning. Really. Fawcett Hall, a performance venue and event space hosts must-see musicians and experiences. Mothership recording studio beckons from the second floor. Or maybe it’s the buzz from The Hive Coworking space. An expansive outdoor patio comes alive in good weather. 

Alma Mater is “a space to celebrate, nurture and evolve with the Tacoma community through food, performance, work, education and social exchange.” Founders, artists and co-directors Jason Hemlinger, Aaron Spiro and Rachel Ervin have been called “ridiculously ambitious” And, their dream is flourishing. 

“Our ‘why’ is connection,” shared Jason. “Our society needs connection if we are going to survive… Alma Mater is a place to connect. Connect with our senses. Connect with our neighbors. Connect with our civic leaders. Connect with self. Connect with the whole.” 

“We believe art is a tool for connection, and when executed with intent and generosity, can bridge many of the chasms we face as a society. Alma Mater re-imagines what an arts center and cultural institution could be, redefining itself as a hub for social, economic and cultural exchange.” 

This is where ‘community’ becomes a verb. 

For Additional Information

Alma Mater | www.almamatertacoma.com

Honey Coffee + Kitchen, Matriarch Lounge, Mothership Studios, Hive Coworking Space


Asia Pacific Cultural Center’s Celebration

Every year the Asia Pacific Cultural Center presents a free New Year Celebration! In 2019 the 21st annual event will take place on Feb. 9 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Tacoma Dome Exhibition Hall.

Thousands of people are drawn to this culturally significant one-day event. Forty-seven countries and their cultures are represented, all in one big interactive family celebration.

A different country or culture is featured every year. This time the spotlight will be on the beautiful Hawaiian Islands and their culture through dance, food, fashion and entertainment.

The Hawaiian performances will be followed by extensive entertainment from the many different countries and cultures that APCC represents. South Sound residents are invited to engage in exciting dances and delight in the colorful costumes.

Besides entertainment, the celebration includes an array of food choices from different cultures. There are hands-on activities for the children and families, along with many demonstrations of martial arts and dances on the cultural demo stage.

Additionally, attendees can visit over 100 booths covering services, charitable organizations, retail, travel and other offerings from the many cultures.

This fun event is full of activities for the whole family. To learn more, visit asiapacificculturalcenter.org.

West Coast debut of 30 Americans


The critically acclaimed, nationally traveling exhibition 30 Americans makes its West Coast debut at Tacoma Art Museum this fall. Featuring 45 works drawn from the Rubell Family Collection in Miami—one of the largest private contemporary art collections in the world—30 Americans will be on view from Sept. 24, 2016, through Jan. 15, 2017.

The exhibition showcases paintings, photographs, installations, and sculptures by prominent African American artists who have emerged since the 1970s as trailblazers in the contemporary art scene. The works explore identity and the African American experience in the United States. The exhibition invites viewers to consider multiple perspectives and to reflect on the similarities and differences of their own experiences and identities.

“The impact of this inspiring exhibition comes from the powerful works of art produced by major artists who have significantly advanced contemporary art practices in our country for three generations,” says Stephanie Stebich, executive director of TAM. “The stories these works tell are more relevant than ever as we work toward understanding and social change.”

Characterizing TAM as a “safe space for difficult conversations through art,” Stebich adds that the museum will hold open forums and discussions during the run of the exhibition, offering ample opportunity, she says, for community conversations about the role of art, the history of racism, and traumatic current events.

Rock Hushka, TAM’s chief curator, expects that for some viewers, this exhibition will be comforting and exciting; for others it may be provocative or uncomfortable. He said the museum will have gallery prompts that invite visitors to examine their own identities and how it affects their reactions.

What will you see in 30 Americans? Works by seminal figures such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Carrie Mae Weems will be on view alongside pieces by younger generations of artists such as Kehinde Wiley, Mickalene Thomas and Kalup Linzy. Woven through many of the works are evocative themes of race and black identity in America, the struggle for civil rights, popular culture and media imagery.

30-americans2The museum’s opening celebration for 30 Americans will be Saturday, Sept. 24, 7-10 p.m. Collectors Don and Mera Rubell will speak about developing the exhibition and the accompanying catalog as well as their collection in general in a Collector Conversation at TAM on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2 p.m. Tickets and information about these events and related programs are available at tacomaartmuseum.org.

Glenn Ligon, America, 2008. Neon sign and paint, ed. of 1 plus AP, 24 × 168 inches. Courtesy of the Rubell Family Collection.

Artist Spotlight – Chris Anderson


When he began singing as a busboy at Jebino’s restaurant in Eatonville, Chris Anderson never imagined his career would catapult, seemingly overnight. Drawing inspiration from musical idols such as Bobby Darin, Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra, Anderson creates a sound all his own and has been sharing it at venues all over the state. We recently had a chance to speak with him about his success and what lies ahead for the budding star.

How did you become interested in music?

Coming from a musical family, I have always been a fan of music. It wasn’t until age 18, however, that I became interested in pursuing it as a career, which, ironically, was the first time in my life that I sang a note in a manner in which I was trying to actually sing well. Growing up, I was too shy to even think about doing anything musical, but after I graduated from high school I became inspired to see what I was capable of.

What is your musical inspiration?

My grandpa Norm was my first musical inspiration. He and I began listening to the songs he grew up with when I was a kid, and I witnessed the authentic passion he has for that style of music. Though he continues to inspire me, the research I have done since has led me to define who my favorite artists are from back in the day. The opportunity to continue their legacies keeps me driven and motivated to do their songs justice and never let them fade away.

Describe your musical style.

My musical repertoire consists of any song that is considered a classic. I try to give them a certain flair that they have never had before without eliminating the essence of what made them great in the first place.

Are you working on any albums? What can fans expect?

I have a new album currently in the works. It has been a few years since the last album, but I want this one to be the perfect mix and sound that fit my direction. You can expect it to have covers from genres including classic country, soul and Motown in my own unique style. Of course, jazz standards will be included in this album.

What is your favorite part about performing live?

I love performing live but I am actually quite shy off stage. Once I get on stage, all of that goes away and I’m able to perform every song with all I have, giving classic songs the justice they deserve. Connecting with my audience, taking them on a journey, that’s what it’s all about. Then to receive the ovation after each song and especially at the end of the show—it makes all of the hard work and dedication worth it.  By Andrea Lerum

To learn more about Chris and view a schedule of upcoming performances, visit chrisandersonmusic.com