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Published May 8th, 2014 - 5:13AM

72-hr Film Competition viewing party

Every year, 30 teams of local filmmakers sign up for a crazy challenge – make a short film in 72 hours, working with a common prop, line and action unveiled at the beginning of the race. Organized by The Grand Cinema, the competition is screened this Friday. 7 p.m. May 9. $10 advance/$15 at door. Urban Grace, 902 Market St., Tacoma. 253-572-6062,

Guerilla Girls come to UWT

Art icons the Guerilla Girls – the New York-based, feminist art activists who use wit to show up sexisim and racism in the cultural world – are coming to Tacoma this weekend for a gorilla-masked performance and Q&A session, courtesy of Tacoma Art Museum. 1 p.m. May 10. $20 ($15 for Tacoma Art Museum members). Phillips Hall, University of Washington, Tacoma, 1900 Commerce St., Tacoma. 253-272-4258, 

Tacoma City Ballet offers a fairytale Mother’s Day

Ballet and fairy-tales go together like cupcakes and frosting, and this weekend mothers with young ballet-goers have a pre-Mother’s Day outing as sweet as it comes. Tacoma City Ballet’s annual Storybook Ballet Theatre Fairy Tale Tea Party brings Hansel and Gretel, Peter Pan and many more characters to graceful life with an hour-long show followed by afternoon tea: 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. May 10; $15. Traditional performances (no tea) happen the following weekend: 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. May 17 and 18, $5. Guests are encouraged to wear storybook costumes. Tacoma City Ballet, Merlino Building, 508 6th Ave., Tacoma. 253-272-4219,

B2Gallery gets “Wet”

Published May 7th, 2014 - 4:11PM

Bikes and art usually don’t go together – but “Inky Spokes” aims to change that. The Washington-touring exhibition of bicycle-themed art hits Tacoma Art Museum this week with a free reception next Thursday for ArtWalk, and showcases not just links between wheels and canvas, but the work of both emerging and established artists.

Curated by Amanda Michele Dellinger and organized by The Levee Breaking, “Inky Spokes” is a spin-off from the Gigantic Bicycle Festival, a get-together of bike enthusiasts this August in Snoqualmie, where the exhibit will culminate. Featured artists includeAlex Achaval, Amy Pleasant, Andy Goulding, Claire Putney, Eroyn Franklin, Fedora El Morro and WoodFish, among many others.

“I think what’s most important to me as the curator is to emphasize the connectivity between artists of varying skill set and the bridging of cities through art and bicycle culture,” says Dellinger.

The TAM portion coincides with National Bike Month, and the City of Tacoma’s Zeitbike offshoot, which has organized its own museum events in the past, is encouraging museum-goers to ride their bikes to the museum, where admission is free from 5-8 p.m. and other Third Thursday ArtWalk activities include a sewing circle for Marie Watt’s upcoming blanket sculpture and bike-related art activities.

Before and after the ArtWalk reception, only a portion of the exhibit will be on view in the window on the museum’s mezzanine level.

Opening reception 5-8 p.m. May 15. Free. Also on view 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday through May 27; admission $10/$8/free for five and under. Tacoma Art Museum, 1701 Pacific Ave., Tacoma. 253-272-4258,

Published May 7th, 2014 - 5:10AM

The elements that make up our earth have inspired artists, filmmakers and composers for a long time, and now Greg Youtz is having his say. The composer and musicology professor at Pacific Lutheran University has been studying classical Chinese music and culture for years now, taking students on study trips and incorporating Chinese instruments and sounds into his own compositions. This Sunday Tacomans will get the chance to hear his first percussion concerto, inspired by the five elements (or Five Changes) of the earth according to the Chinese philosophy of Daoism.

While Youtz’ second percussion concerto got a lot more exposure (a piece for two soloists, it was premiered by the Tacoma Symphony a few years ago) this concerto is more programmatic, with each movement describing a different element with various percussion instruments.

Says Youtz in the press release: “In the form of this 20-minute piece, water forms the first, self-contained section. In the next section wood emerges and leads in an enormous crescendo to fire.  The third section is a slow movement of drums representing earth which leads into the fourth section highlighting metal. This forms the climax and the coming together of all previous themes and motives, before receding into a short recapitulation of the water section.”

Colored lighting will also highlight the five changes.

PLU percussion faculty member Dr. Miho Takekawa will be the soloist, accompanied by the PLU wind ensemble under Edwin Powell.

Published May 6th, 2014 - 1:09PM

For Harvey Felder, Mahler’s Fifth Symphony is a journey from struggle to triumph – and that’s exactly why he’s chosen that iconic Romantic work to be the final one he conducts as music director of the Tacoma Symphony. Felder’s own 20-year journey with the orchestra has seen plenty of ups and downs, and the conductor sees the symphony as the ideal musical symbol. Also on the program, held this Saturday in the Pantages, is Liszt’s bravura Piano Concerto no. 1, played by soloist Andrew Armstrong, and a piece by contemporary American composer Roberto Sierra.

“I love Mahler…his music means so much to orchestras and conductors,” says Felder. “This symphony is a journey of struggle, love, hope and ultimately triumph. It’s a wonderful narrative and I wanted to have that at my last concert as a representation of what we’ve gone through as an orchestra.”

Felder was hired by the orchestra’s board in 1993 with the charge of raising the standard from community orchestra to professional. During his first decade he made sweeping changes: auditioning all musicians to assess their skill, asking key players to leave if they weren’t “up to snuff,” changing rehearsals from once-weekly to a four-nights-before-the-concert basis, introducing new repertoire like late Romantic and some contemporary music, and being very picky about precision, rhythm and ensemble playing. In the last ten years Felder has brought the orchestra into the community, reaching out with venues like the Rialto, Tacoma Art Museum, Joint Base Lewis McChord and the Puyallup Fair; starting family concerts; working with youth musicians in schools; hiring local soloists and creating the Simply Symphonic series offering free educative concerts to local fifth graders.

But while the board, musicians and audience all agree that Felder has more than achieved what he came to do, there has been tension. Some players left before they were asked, others, like concertmaster Svend Rønning, describe Felder’s rehearsal style as “scary.”

“There’s been struggle, loss…a journey fraught with ups and downs,” says Felder.

The orchestra has played the piece before under Felder, and so he has a few things planned out already, like the tempi, which can’t go as slowly as Mahler originally specifies simply because the acoustic of the Pantages is so dry.

“In our hall, slow tempi are just deadly: the sound just drops, there’s no reverberation,” Felder explains.

And while some conductors like to separate the 70-minute work into discrete sections (the movements include a funeral march, a storm, a lighter scherzo, a slow adagio and a final, joking allegro), Felder prefers to keep the narrative arc by “moving things along.”

The work is also a large one instrumentally, including three of each woodwind (four flutes), six horns, an extensive percussion section and a harp added to the strings.

Published May 2nd, 2014 - 10:02PM
Jack Gunter will have a few tough goodbyes to say Saturday at Tacoma’s Sanford and Son auction house: a Frank Lloyd Wright bed, some William Morris glass sculptures, a set of Chuck Close murals painted on kitchen cabinets.
Published May 2nd, 2014 - 12:05AM
If you’ve ever searched for information on the Web using your smartphone, you know one thing is true: There’s too much stuff out there. Googling exactly what you want to know can take a long time, especially on mobile, and if you’re on the ground exploring a physical place, it slows you down.
Published April 30th, 2014 - 5:28AM

Ever wondered how to engrave brass, make a cyanotype print or spin freshly-sheared wool? You’ll get your chance at Fort Nisqually over the next five months, as the living history museum at Tacoma’s Point Defiance Park brings back its Crafts of the Past program for the third year.

Every weekend from May 3 through September 28 a different artist will be in residence demonstrating a craft or art from the 1800s, the period when the Hudson’s Bay Company had an outpost at the now-restored historical site. Crafts include Native American basketry, metal engraving, millinery, botanical illustration, broom making, and blacksmithing. Visitors can also try many of the crafts for themselves, beginning with this weekend, when metal engraver Steve Baima shows how gun makers embellished their weapons with intricate metal engravings.

 “Many of the things people needed for daily life in the 1800s — from what they wore to the tools they used — were produced by crafts people whose work was both functional and beautiful,” said Fort Nisqually’s site manager Mike McGuire in a press release. “This is a chance to see artists in action and learn directly from them.”

May 10 and 11 sees Heather Kibbey and Mickey Pederson spinning and weaving wool, while a flock of visiting sheep gets shorn (Saturday only). On May 18, Cowlitz tribal member Judy Bridges demonstrates basketry techniques like plaiting, twining and coiling; on May 24-25 photographer Victoria Anderson explains how to make a cyanotype print using sunlight on photo-sensitive paper; while on May 31-June 1 Alan Archambault demonstrates the art of historical illustration and calligraphy.

Fort Nisqually Living History Museum is a restoration of the Hudson’s Bay Company outpost on Puget Sound, with nine buildings showing how life was lived in Washington Territory during the 1850s. It’s open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday through May 26 then daily through summer. Admission: $5 adult/$4 youth through May 23; then $7 adult/$6 senior, military/$5 student/$4 youth/free for under-5.

Published April 29th, 2014 - 7:27PM

Hard to believe that the Tacoma Urban Sketchers are turning one year old this month, but it’s true: The local branch of the world-wide grass-roots sketching movement have been meeting every month with pencils and paper since last May, sharing their work and techniques on To celebrate, they’re holding two sketch-out meetings this Saturday in Seattle and Tacoma.

First, the Tacoma meet-up: Sketchers will meet at the downtown Starbucks at 1101 Pacific Ave., S, Tacoma) at 10 a.m. before sketching on and around the Murray Morgan Bridge. (Rain plan: sketch the bridge from covered areas near A and 11th Streets.) They’ll reconvene at 12:30 p.m. at Starbucks to share experiences and drawings. More information:

Published April 29th, 2014 - 1:14PM
Episcopal preacher Barbara Brown Taylor will read from her latest book at Tacoma's Immanuel Presbyterian Church on May 8.
Published April 27th, 2014 - 12:05AM
When Harvey Felder lowers his baton at the end of Mahler’s “Fifth Symphony” on May 10, the silence will ring with another sound — that of one era ending and another beginning.
Published April 25th, 2014 - 12:05AM
If you see steamrollers while driving down St. Helens Avenue on Sunday, don’t be alarmed. It’s just a sign of the annual Wayzgoose, King’s Books’ annual celebration of printed arts.
Published April 25th, 2014 - 12:05AM
When you think of Lakewood, you maybe don’t think right away of Korean drumming – or Irish music, or dancers from Okinawa, Japan. But that’s exactly what Lakewood’s Sister Cities Arts Fest is all about.
Published April 25th, 2014 - 12:05AM
Procession of the Species founder Eli Sterling has long said that it was his aim to produce 20 of the annual events, which celebrate both the natural world and human creativity.
Published April 24th, 2014 - 5:22AM
Kevin and Cindy Spencer, recently named International Magicians of the Year, bring their magic, mystery and spectacle to the Pantages this Friday, from time-honored tricks to new stunts.
Published April 23rd, 2014 - 4:53PM

Hearing African music is rare in the South Sound – hearing African classical music is even rarer. But Tacoma audiences will get the chance this weekend as the Second City Chamber Series features Seattle pianist William Chapman Nyaho with local musicians playing chamber works by composers from Nigeria, Egypt and the African diaspora in “Voices of Africa.”

Born in Ghana with music degrees from Oxford, the Geneva music conservatory, the Eastman School and the University of Texas at Austin, Nyaho is a pianist and teacher in demand around the country, with two CDs and a large part of his performing career devoted to music by African composers.

When SCCS director Svend Rønning came up with the series’ season theme of musicians performing their specialty, he immediately thought of Nyaho.

“It seemed like a great opportunity,” says Rønning, a violinist, who along with soprano Tracy Satterfield, violinists Ruth Maria Ballance and cellist Jared Ballance will play alongside Nyaho in a program that’s as varied as Africa itself.

From the 19th-century English-born Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, who had Sierra Leone connections and an Elgar aesthetic and New York jazz pianist Valerie Capers’ “The Seasons,” the program goes to Nigerian composer Joshua Uzoigwe, whose “Uko” replicates the sound of that African drum (the uko) in a 12-tone piano landscape, avant-garde jazz composer Coleridge Taylor Perkinson (named after the English composer) with a “Scherzo” and a piano trio by Egyptian composer Gamal Abdel-Rahim.   

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