The first thing I saw when I entered the Tacoma Art Museum (www.TacomaArtMuseum.org ) was this giant dog! His name is Leroy, the Big Pup, and he is the 12-foot-tall, cardboard sculpture creation of Seattle artist, Scott Fife. His presence at the doorway is a great example of the Mission Statement of the Tacoma Art Museum, which is to showcase the art of Northwest artists, and to connect people through art. An example of the way that the Tacoma Art Museum connects people through art, is their regularly-scheduled workshops. For example, Scott Fife did a workshop where participants could learn how to create their very own cardboard sculpture animal! Another way the museum is connecting with the community is by having the donation box adjacent to the dog, where those who would like to contribute to the welfare of Tacoma animals, can leave a donation.
The next installation that caught my eye was this colorful sight in the outdoor courtyard. It is called "Ma Chihuly's Floats", and is a gift from well-known Northwest glass artist, Dale Chihuly, in honor of his mother. As it turns out, I was fortunate to get to see it, because it is a "seasonal" exhibit, meaning that when bad weather arrives later in the fall, it is CAREFULLY dismantled, and CAREFULLY packed away until the following spring.
But the remainder of Chihuly works on display at the Tacoma Art Museum are NOT seasonal, and can be viewed year-round. In fact, Dale Chihuly has a permanent gallery at the museum, dedicated to his work. He has been incredibly generous to the Tacoma Art Museum, as I counted at least 39 magnificent glass creations that he donated, all in honor of his parents, Viola and George Chihuly, and his brother, George W. Chihuly. I read that he credits his growing up in Tacoma, along with the support of his family, to his outstanding success as an artist.
In addition to this comprehensive exhibit of Dale Chihuly's work on long-term display at the Tacoma Art Museum, there are five large-scale installations of Chihuly's art in Tacoma's Museum District, further testifying to the close ties to his hometown that Chihuly retains. To provide an overview of these installations, Tacoma Art Museum has created "Ear for Art", a free, self-guided walking tour of the installations, that includes an audio tour, accessible through your personal phone. The number is 1-888-411-4220. It was cool getting to hear Dale Chihuly's recorded voice telling you about his creations, simultaneously as you were examining/admiring it! It reminded me of the way that God's Word, The Holy Bible, tells us about HIS creations---human beings---as we are examining/admiring them! Ephesians 2:10 says "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." That verse is especially meaningful to me, because my son's last name is "Shipman", so when you say "shipmanworks" it is a reversal of "workmanship"! And, I am especially glad that God created my son!
I was captivated by the gallery containing the work of Portland, Oregon artist, Marie Watt. Her exhibit, called "Lodge", will be viewable until October 7, 2012. In fact, I spent almost my entire time at the Tacoma Art Museum within the gallery walls of the Lodge exhibit. It was FASCINATING! The giant, colorful rectangle you see in the right side of this photo is a stack of wool blankets, over nine feet tall!
Reading the manila tags that were visible for some of the blankets, was intriguing, and went right along with the title of the exhibit. Marie Watt states that the title of the exhibit, "Lodge", refers to a space of welcome and a place where stories are shared.
Just seeing the small section of the blanket with the red, white, and yellow stripes, probably instantly evokes memories for many Northwesterners, especially Canadians. These are called Hudson Bay Company point blankets, and hold iconic status in Canada.
This tag states that cat hair goes along with the donated blanket, because the cat and the blanket were constant companions of this donor's mother.
Other parts of the Lodge exhibit included the igloo-type structure in the corner, and the even taller stack of folded blankets, called "Three Sisters" which is made up of wool blankets from the artist's relatives.
Seeing this fabric art, made in part from green, wool army blankets, immediately took my mind to childhood memories of camping with my family, when we ALWAYS took along the old, green army blankets that my father had purchased from an army surplus store. Later, these same blankets, were standard-issue "linens" for the many nights we spent on the family houseboat. Part of the interactive process of the exhibit was to supply manila tags for the viewers, so they could write the story of their very OWN blankets on the tags, then attach the tag to their heirloom blanket. I had started doing this for family heirloom quilts, but it had not occurred to me, to do it for blankets. However, after my visit to Tacoma, I plan to go through my cedar chest to give that old green army blanket its due historical recognition!
Having been to two different Winter Olympic events in Canada, I had become acquainted with the reverence Canadians have for the Hudson Bay Company blankets. This art work, made from one of these blankets, reminds me of scenes from Canada, including the ever-present Canadian Mounted Policeman!
This wall hanging interested me because my home is decorated in the "lodge" style, with antlers found in just about every room! The artist describes this work as a Pendleton stadium blanket, with appliques, and hung by shed antlers.
After leaving the nostalgic "Lodge" exhibit, I returned to see work by other glass artists, who have benefited from the attention that Dale Chihuly's success has brought to their field. The intricacies of this hand blown, glass vase were incredible!
The museum also has an outstanding educational program, with about 6,500 school students visiting the museum through the School Tour program. In fact, approximately 25% of all visitors enter free-of-charge through various promotions as "Free Third Thursday" that provides free admission all day.
In addition, the Tacoma Art Museum is promoting Thursday night "IGNITE" events throughout the season, where they have special prices on food and beverages in their restaurant. My friend and I ate supper at the museum on a Thursday night, and enjoyed a delicious meal, in a lovely setting, that was very reasonably priced.
Since I enjoy photography, I didn't want to miss the room that contained a small photo exhibit. I am always amazed how much putting a photograph in a frame, with appropriate matting, can enhance its enjoyment.
As you exit the Tacoma Art Museum, you get a different perspective on the "Ma Chihuly Floats" exhibit, than what you have as you enter. The mirrored effect of the triangular-shaped hallway serves to "double" your viewing pleasure!
Museums usually have great gift shops, and the Tacoma Art Museum is no exception. And of course, one can visit the museum gift store, without having to purchase a paid admission to the museum.
One thing that keeps the Northwest so green and lush-looking, is their frequent rain. So one can find some very creative ways to decorate the ever-present umbrellas you will see these folks carrying. Of course the design on this umbrella in their gift shop, very appropriately brings to mind the work of Dale Chihuly.
This photo shows that the downtown Marriott Courtyard ( www.courtyardtacoma.com ) is directly across the street from the Tacoma Art Museum, and is great place to choose as your headquarters hotel when visiting Tacoma. In addition, the Tacoma Convention and Visitor's Bureau ( www.traveltacoma.com ) operates a visitor information office in the lower street level of the hotel, which is extremely convenient. The building adjacent to the Marriott Courtyard on the other side is the Greater Tacoma Convention Center, another reason why this particular hotel property is so popular with guests. Hopefully, reading this blog will make you want to get off the couch at your "lodge", and go to check out a lodge in the Pacific Northwest. The "logical" conclusion is that such a journey will bring you miles of smiles! Tricia