Last weekend Tacoma really stepped up the love. The amount of quality interactions and experiences confirmed to me that I was living in the right city in the right time line. It was one of those particular nights where everything lined up just right. A beautiful spring evening, vibrant bar scene and an art opening at Tacoma Art Museum were just a few of the elements I had to look forward to.
Now I’m local, living in the Hilltop neighborhood not far from downtown. So I marched my butt on down to Pacific Avenue to check out the art show. As Tacoma is a big small city it was inevitable that I would run into a number of it’s amazing citizens along the way. First to roll up on me was Kharen Nakauye AKA DJ Special K racing up the hill to Tacoma Urban Performing Arts Center. I then happened upon artist Holly Senn shopping at a local design store. We stopped for a brief chat before I continued on my way down town. At the corner of 11th I turned at the site of the late Luzon Building built in 1890, demolished in 2009. As I rounded the now empty lot I was struck by how lovely and inviting this seemingly manicured empty lot appeared. A series of bonsai like shrubs graced the landscape and were accompanied by unique sculpted openings at the base of each. It reminded me hobbit shire from J.R.R. Tolkins Lord of the Rings. The whole place had an intimate calm about it similar to that of a zen garden. To complete the magic of this forgotten space I was pleased to meet the guardians of this forgotten realm. Cute furry mammals playing and chasing one an other, going on about their daily routine.
After tearing myself away from the Zen Rodent Shire I navigated onward to Tacoma Art Museum. The main entrance was closed so I gained access through the rear of the building. Upon exiting the elevator I found myself in a crowded hallway behind the glass cases on the main floor. That’s when it hit me. Although I was invited by a donor this was a members only RSVP event… Time to blend in and act natural.
GATHER: 27 years of Hiltop Artists at Tacoma Art Museum is a showing of both current and alumni artists from the unique Hilltop Artists Glass program. Dale Chihuly, a Tacoma native started this program 27 years ago as a way to bring the glass craft the the under served population of Tacoma. As I have worked intimately in the Tacoma art scene for over 20 years, I am quite familiar with many of these artists and their works. This event truly captured the energy and importance of the Hilltop Artists program. What I didn’t expect from this exhibition was the generational factor. Glass artist Trenton Quiocho who is also the current shop manager at the Hilltop Artists Program curated GATHER. This was his first experience putting together a show of this size. His choices and selections addressed the community and reflected the art current art scene in Tacoma. However it really hit home for me during the address by our mayor Victoria Woodards thanking those who worked to bring this event together. She addressed the tired trope, “the youth are the future” as incorrect. The youth are our present and we need them as leaders and to follow the insight they provide .
I left this event riding high and happy with my choices. Many of the young artists that were on display that evening will be part of a show at Fulcrum Gallery in May. This exhibition is titled Riff Raff and is part of the Glass Art Society international conference in Tacoma Washington. It is a show that I have personally curated to feature many of my favorite artists in the area. Artists outside of the usual cannon of glass. The true backbone of the glass community. -Oliver Doriss