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What is art?

Tacoma’s art scene goes tangible

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Tacoma.  Art.  The two go together like love and marriage, peanut butter and jelly, and gin and tonic.

And the two are equally broad spectrum with Tacoma’s art scene encompassing a range from coffee to dance to clothing to paintings to parties to food to random acts of kindness.

But is it all art?

“Art is in the act,” says Claudia Riedener, an artist whose main medium is dirt.  A potter with a horticultural background, Riedener has been involved in Art on the Ave, Suitcase Sightings, the Can-Do Project, SiteWorks, and too many others to mention. 

Riedener also suggests that art can happen simply by engaging with art happening: viewing a show at a gallery, listening to a concert, attending a procession.

This is one of the things setting Tacoma apart as an arts community.

Lynn Di Nino, the fairy godmother of much of the arts vibe in Tacoma, met up with Julie Rex, prospective culinary artist for Coffee and Rhetoric, to discuss the art scene. 

Di Nino, whose mixed media include Scrabble, hundreds of monkeys, and molded concrete on hollow framing, explains the scene in Tacoma: “Everybody’s doing this to have fun.”

Riedener agrees — that the scene is about sustaining community.  “Much of the big stuff comes out of the little people,” Riedener says. She’s an appreciator of the indie and a champion of the underdog.

It’s the indie underdog that makes Tacoma beautiful.

It’s also the range of art that makes Tacoma beautiful.

Think about it.  Where else but Tacoma is coffee like the artistic cup served by Rachel Moreshead at the Black Water Café equally as artistic — and appreciated — as the affordable works on canvas that can be seen at any number of non-“galleries” such as Embellish Multispace Salon and Jazzbones?

Where else but Tacoma is the art of hair and the art of community-based urban living as apparent as Embellish Multispace Salon?

Embellish owner Patricial Lecy-Davis offers her own ideas about her media: “My art is on the canvas of hair.  It’s the art of conversation, the art of communication.”  She adds a last art: “The art of listening.”

“You can’t put a definition on art,” Lecy-Davis explains. “That’s what makes Tacoma so beautiful; it’s not bound by restraint.”

Restraint is a concept not understood by Di Nino.  “Think big and outrageous and you’ll get closer to what you want,” she suggests at Coffee and Rhetoric.

But she also offers advice for those with different philosophies.

“Give to get,” she suggests.  Going to your friends’ gigs means they’re more likely to come to yours.  She also suggests, for non-godparentlike mortals, “design small things and go from there.”

Sounds empowering, simple, and cool like T-town. 

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