Tacoma Street Theatre

Friday, February 22, 2008


This city, with its fledgling, just-hatched arts scene is desperately in need of more than one artwalk, more surprise guerilla street performance, more public sculpture, and more critical art commentary. If Tacoma ever wants to rise up to become more than a hazy afterthought of Seattle, residents of the City of Destiny must make the effort to take a few more risks and support young and emerging, starving, under-and-non-represented creative folk. The most relevant, cutting-edge, thrilling, and challenging art of our times is very often disregarded because the artist does not have 'fine art' credentials, a mile-long resume full of high-end galleries and juried show awards.

Tacoma needs more free, non-juried group art shows that recognize and support new talent rather than accepting artists based on their show history or art education. Tacoma needs more challenging, critical visual arts-scene commentary; voices that aren't afraid to offend or pull punches but let it all hang out and throw the cards down. It's time for honesty that hurts. This is not out of any malicious attempt for self-glory. This is done with love. Tacoma needs some serious critique, with all kinds of praise and hate mixed in.
Tacoma needs more patrons like the late Steve Craig, who risked so much by opening his Broadway antique shop to a host of little-known artists who joined forces together to create a genuinely unique, affordable gallery space and a meeting ground for so many. Perhaps some of you remember the Summer of '04, the heyday of RampaMonica's, when the Artist Co-Op and the Restaurant/Gallery succeeded in kicking Tacoma's art-ass into a new era with bombastic Third Thursday art events and afterparties. Panamonica's continued the theme of featuring local undiscovered artists and hosting numerous events that celebrated Tacoma's unique position as a breeding ground for creativity. Unfortunately Panamonica's couldn't last, and with the passing of Steve Craig, you might as well say that an era of Tacoma's 'art renaissance' is OVER.

But that's no reason to cry in your hard-earned PBR, all you prideful underdog hipsters. There are plenty of descendants of that era that is dead. Look over there, 100 Monkeys are still jumpin', bringing the art community together every few months for nostalgic get-together reunions. And look over there, no wait, it's gone again, but I think that was an UrbanAut Party, so slyly secretive about it's location, with art, bands, and almost-naked ladies being painted by famous 'dead' artists. Ah, there's something interesting over at the Helm, a suitably tongue-in-cheek, avant-garde meets fine high-end postmodernist galleryspace that would fit right in at the Everett Street Lofts during Portland's First Thursday ArtWalk. I'm not sure where the new A.O.C. Gallery on Fawcett fits in, with its sleepy offerings of very nicely framed but forgettable photographs, drawings, paintings, and collages. I'm still not sure what the Tacoma Art Commission is doing for the community. Tacoma Art Place just off MLK has been born but as yet the community hasn't taken much notice of this fantastic community art studio. Wow, look at the Volcano, exploding out of its former skin into a weekly paper with some real meat to go with its eats, beats, and cultural treats.

Well, Citizens of Tacoma, I know you are trying, but you must try harder. I've
been all over the world twice and looking at Tacoma I must say there's a lot that's missing. Not to say that there are some things that aren't. You're off to a great start, but really, it's time to take some more risks and dare to stand out. Do something different. Take a leap or three, see what happens. Be BOLD. Don't wait for someone else to start doing something cool, be that person, and if you see something exciting and original happening, don't be afraid to add your voice to the mix.

Tacoma needs more collaborative art events, multimedia art orgies, carnivalistic Andy Warhol-Style Factory Freak Fests, Absurdist Dada Street Anarchy. Happenings happening in multiple locations at the same time for different, similar reasons. Tacoma needs an Anti-ArtWalk at the beginning of the month. Seattle has at LEAST a First Thursday, a Second Friday, and a Second Tuesday ArtWalk. Portland has at LEAST a First Thursday, First Friday, Second Thursday and a Last Thursday. Why can't Tacoma do this too? Why does Tacoma's art world bow down so low to Seattle? Why do Tacomans continue to keep as much as possible underground and hidden away, and then bitch about it?
Tacoma needs a new home for starving, low-income artists to hang their paintings and play their music among peers, supporters, patrons, and the unwitting public. Tacoma needs a new Art Co-Op that is two-to-four times bigger and better than anything else ever. A Co-Op with little or no monthly fee that follows the RampArt model of cramming as many artists as possible onto as many available walls. Not any kind of snooty high-end 'gallery' but an explosive, bombastic, interactive, 24-hour, 7-day, ongoing art happening, gritty and funky for the avant-garde anti-elite. A place that will open its arms to the underappreciated, carve new paths of opportunity for the unexposed, and above all things, be a fun place to kick it any time of day for all-ages.

Come on, patrons, I know you are out there.

Hey, business and building owners with those empty storefronts all over DownTown, MLK, and South Tacoma Way!! Why not take a risk like Steve Craig and invest in the arts for a change. I dare you to become a real patron and support the starving artists of your fair City of Destiny and help to transmute the urban decay.


This is just the beginning of the critique, Tacoma. I have a lot to say, and I'm just digging in. You never know when or where I will turn up to scavenge more dirt on what Tacoma needs or what Tacoma already has. If you are impressed, offended, inspired or incited by any of this, I encourage you to leave a comment; this contribution to the Blogosphere is meant to initiate a higher level of artistic discussion and if I don't get a reaction well I guess I've proved a sad point of how much Tacoma is lacking. Stay tuned for more rippings and ragings at the 'scene' or the lack of one here, and taste my venom with a little hit of honey drizzled on the side...........

~Voronoff the GhostCritic
{award-winning and critically acclaimed,
beware of my words}


NineInchNachos said...

So you want to be more creative, in art, in business, whatever. Here are some tips that have worked for me over the years:

1. Ignore everybody.

2. The idea doesn't have to be big. It just has to change the world.

3. Put the hours in.

4. If your biz plan depends on you suddenly being "discovered" by some big shot, your plan will probably fail.

5. You are responsible for your own experience.

6. Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten.

7. Keep your day job.

8. Companies that squelch creativity can no longer compete with companies that champion creativity.

9. Everybody has their own private Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb.

10. The more talented somebody is, the less they need the props.

11. Don't try to stand out from the crowd; avoid crowds altogether.

12. If you accept the pain, it cannot hurt you.

13. Never compare your inside with somebody else's outside.

14. Dying young is overrated.

15. The most important thing a creative person can learn professionally is where to draw the red line that separates what you are willing to do, and what you are not.

16. The world is changing.

7. Merit can be bought. Passion can't.

18. Avoid the Watercooler Gang.

19. Sing in your own voice.

20. The choice of media is irrelevant.

21. Selling out is harder than it looks.

22. Nobody cares. Do it for yourself.

23. Worrying about "Commercial vs. Artistic" is a complete waste of time.

24. Don't worry about finding inspiration. It comes eventually.

25. You have to find your own schtick.

26. Write from the heart.

27. The best way to get approval is not to need it.

28. Power is never given. Power is taken.

29. Whatever choice you make, The Devil gets his due eventually.

30. The hardest part of being creative is getting used to it.

31. Remain frugal.

izenmania said...

There is a lot of worthwhile stuff said here, that I think a lot of people will not read because of the font colors...

I will have something more thoughtful to say later.

NineInchNachos said...

Izenmaina are you criticizing The Dude's Art bro?

propriatrix said...

gosh, the honey is so.....sticky.

Voronoff the GhostCritic said...

thanks for commenting, I really appreciate the dialogue, especially izenmania's critique of my critique on his own blog, wow that's the blogosphere in action.
coool....stay tuned. i have more mirth to share.

Acumensch said...

I love your blog, and the video about the street art. Thanks for your comment on the photo blog!