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Tacoma Arts Month 2014

Art at Work has been rebranded and moved to October

Tacoma Studio Tours will feature demonstrations of the artistic process or will have hands-on activities for visitors Oct. 11 and 12. Courtesy photo

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Whether you know it or not, Tacoma is a fricken artsy place. Tucked into old buildings, abandoned storefronts and sometimes even brand new buildings are galleries, artist studios and places to learn a bit of art as well. All year round, the arts scene in Tacoma is part of what makes T-town tick, but for one month each year - Tacoma Arts Month, if you will - Tacoma's intrepid Arts Commission works to showcase all our city's got going on.

Tacoma Arts Month is a rebranded incarnation of Art at Work and is now in its 13th year. The new name is intended to capture the all-encompassing artsy nature of arts in the community - which is exactly what Tacoma Arts Month is all about.

"Name change, yes, and month change, yes," says Naomi Strom-Avila, cultural arts specialist with the Tacoma Arts Commission. "But the goal of the event has remained the same, which is to show off what the Tacoma community has to offer. We highlight one month out of the year and all the different arts and cultural events happening that month, but these things happen year round. We hope to encourage people to connect on an on-going basis."

Arts Month is an umbrella that arches over more than 300 individual events, workshops, classes et al - music, theater and dance performances; films; literary and cultural events; workshops and classes; and more, all happening in the city in October. Even better, most of the events are free.

There are two events that the Arts Commission puts on. The first of which, the Opening Party and AMOCAT Arts Awards, kicks off the month with a free shindig at the Post Office Building downtown from 6-9 pm. Thursday, Oct. 2.

"The thing we're going overboard on this year is our opening party," says Strom-Avila. "We're hosting it in partnership with Spaceworks Tacoma. We have a really big list of artists who are participating, everything from music and drumming to art exhibits and the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation of Art Award Exhibit. We'll have pop-up exhibits going on, pop-up theater performances, a trash fashion show, poetry readings, and film screenings - all at this one event. We've never had this much going on at our opening party before, but we're really hoping there's something for everyone."

Entertainment at the opening party includes music by Speed Queen and Okinawa Taiko Drums. There will also be appetizers, dessert and a no-host bar.

The other signature event headed up by the Arts Commission is the Tacoma Studio Tour, a unique chance for the average schmo to really interact with the arts - and with artists. The Studio Tour is self-guided and will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 11 and 12. At 37 locations around Tacoma, 61 artists will open their doors to the public.

"I love it because it's a great way to get up-close-and-personal with Tacoma's artists and see their studios, the materials they use and learn more about the creative process," says Strom-Avila. "All the studios have either hands-on projects or demonstrations so it's a learning experience too."

Just about every day, there will be something going on. To find out what's happening and when, visit where you can search the calendar, find out what kinds of workshops and classes are taking place, and get studio locations and a map for the Studio Tour. Also on the website, you can sign up for a twice-weekly newsletter that goes out from late September until the end of October and will keep you up to date on each day's events.

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