The Spaceworks program is the kind of thing that's sure to put Tacoma on the map. You can no longer think of T-town as the stepchild of Seattle when it has things like this - open spaces and empty buildings enlivened with visual art, music and performance art. And not just any old art either, but the kind of art that makes dull and close-minded people scratch their heads and say WTF?
No way can I review all of it in this column. So I'll concentrate on a few of the "windows" exhibits.
Let's start on Broadway with Lisa Kinoshita's installation in the Woolworth Windows. It's called Jack's Epitaph. It is a weird kind of stage set wherein an actor could sit behind a desk (I envision someone in either a too-tight suit or in a 10-gallon hat and sporting a big mustache) and tell the story of Jack the domesticated bear, the mascot of the Tacoma Hotel, who freely roamed the streets of Tacoma until a trigger-happy policeman blew him away in 1893. Jack's head looks down on the desk.
Next comes Gretchen Bennett's window installation. Some kind of white fabric or skin with black, red, green and yellow stripes is stretched across a wall of black plastic and lighted by red and amber lights. It resonates with Jack the bear because it is shaped like a bearskin rug, and it is probably very beautiful when lighted at night, but you don't get that effect in the daylight. Bennett said, "One of the main points of my installation is that I asked Sierra Stinson to install a kit of elements I made, so that the idea of window dressing was intact."
Carrying on the theme of window dressing, Joseph Songco has installed a set of mysterious photographs of window displays in New York. In each of the high-contrast, dark photos of show windows (clothing stores, a bridal shop, a religious artifact store) there are mannequins or dolls partially hidden behind bars or blinds.
Another window is Ackawacko Meeting by meadow starts with p (Andrew Peterson, Angel Brain and Snake Puddin'), which is as enigmatic as its title. It's a maze of threads, drawings and other objects scattered randomly as a tribute to energetic play and childlike creativity. Many of the drawings are by Peterson's children. The whole thing is playful but very messy.
A block away at 906 Broadway are window installations by Ben Hirschkoff, Michelle Acuff and Tory Franklin.
Franklin's Firebird installation is elegant and magical like an illustrated storybook or medieval manuscript, with words and images from cut digital vinyl print on cut pvc, vinyl and Tyvek (a synthetic material).
Acuff's window is filled with a filigree of curvilinear forms in what looks to be pink Styrofoam. Standing on the floor behind these is a big blue deer with huge antlers that look like a profusion of tree limbs. The color combinations and similarities between the meandering shapes in the window and the antlers make for a powerful image.
Hirschkoff has constructed a landscape of clouds made of glass and metal pipe - the softest and most ephemeral of forms made from hard industrial materials.
For more information on the numerous Spaceworks projects in Tacoma, click here.
Downtown Tacoma, through Sept. 30, 24/7
various locations near Commerce and Broadway