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Bringing it together

The seventh annual Urban Art Festival is still sharing, teaching and learning

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The Urban Art Festival is a grassroots effort at its best - a little bit of every kind of art (including some varieties not always recognized as art) all dumped into one public park, then shaken, not stirred, with lots of music and other cool stuff. Now in its seventh year, the Urban Art Festival has expanded to two full days, and will take place June 25 and 26 along Thea Foss Waterway.

The festival began in 2004 when a group of friends, including Joey Morrison, Johanna Gardner (currently the event coordinator), Linda Honeck and Laura and Matt Eklund, decided to put together an event featuring all kinds of art and focusing on local and environmentally friendly vendors and artists. Though one of the founding members, Joey Morrison, passed away unexpectedly in 2005, the group continued on, and even picked up some new members, including Lisa Fruichantie (performance art coordinator) and Mandi Martin (vendor coordinator).The festival strives to bring together every type of music and art, and to tear down stereotypes and draw in the community.

This year, visitors can enjoy the bigger and better nature of the festival as it ramps up. There will be three stages, lots of artists and lots of music. "We have (more) installation art this year than ever before," says Fruichantie, "including live chalk artists, live painters, graffiti artists and a floating art gallery AND a skate park! We have a variety of food, craft and art vendors, with a focus on local artists specifically from Tacoma and Seattle."

This festival is all about local, and it gets its support locally too. Tons of heavy hitters in the Tacoma arts scene are involved, including Fab-5, Artifakt, D.A.S.H., Maurice the Fish Records, Northwest Staging and Sound, Tacoma City Ballet, 100th Monkey, Go Local, The Space, MLK Ballet and the MOV!NG COMPANY, The New Frontier and the Downtown Merchants Group.

"Additionally, we will be featuring an Urban Fashion Village composed of local business and boutique owners that will not only be selling their wares, but creating a T-Town Red Carpet Gritty Fashion Show on Sunday at the festival," says Fruichantie.

A total of 17 local bands will be lighting up the stages, and a staggering number of other events are scheduled for just about everywhere else. There is even a kids' arts and crafts area.

Steve Naccarato is just one of the artists on tap and he will be there with apparel and jewelry featuring the 253heart. Installation artist Gabriel Brown will have a piece onsite called "Eukarya." He describes it as, "Numerous small, layered-cardboard, urban-fungus sculptures that ‘grow' up trees, telephone poles, fence posts, buildings and garbage cans. The name refers to the superkingdom that includes both man and fungus." Brown considers himself both an artist and a "garbologist." His art comments on the world's garbage issues, and this piece hints at the fact that garbage has "taken on a life of its own."

Matt Eklund and his wife, Laura, have been involved in the festival in one way or another since 2004. This year, the power couple will have a gallery space called The 13g Floatation Installation.

"The art displayed will be suspended by helium balloons," says Eklund. "We are really stoked for this project."

As the name implies, all of the suspended art will weigh in at 13 grams or less. In addition to the installation, Laura will also be stilt walking at the festival.

"We are all artists!" says Fruichantie. "Meaning, from the moment you arrive, you see art - from the large outdoor art installations to our UAF Crew or Artifakt to the chalk artists, to our actual stages which are pieces of work themselves, to our booths and vendors. You'll see live painting, live graffiti, dance, music, even our children's play area will be creating a large art installation this year!"

Urban Art Festival

Saturday, June 25 noon to 8 p.m.
Sunday, June 26 noon to 9:20 p.m.
Thea Foss Waterway
from the Museum of Glass at 1801 Dock St.
to beyond the 21st Street Bridge, Tacoma

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Terri Turner said on Jun. 26, 2011 at 5:44am

Please notify me of the art fair next year one mos. before. Thanks.

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