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SLOUCHING TOWARD UTOPIA: Tacoma showing signs of life

While others practice "deaccession," Tacoma fosters awesome Islamic mural pieces and two new galleries

Mavi Contemporary Art: Mavi and Elizabeth Ashe's labor of love debuts Aug. 19. Photography by Joe Malik

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It's getting bad out there. Museums in New York are trying to sell art to make ends meet. That prompted legislation that would prevent New York cultural institutions from selling art to cover everyday operating costs. Museums call it "deaccession," which usually happens when museums want to buy more art by selling art that's lost some of its luster. The New York Times called selling art to cover expenses a "misuse of funds that jeopardizes preserving cultural heritage as a public trust."

Meanwhile, closer to home, art continues to be represented by independent and private collectors, organizations, and other crazy people who refuse to believe that we're on the brink of the complete economic collapse.

Drive by the Rialto Theater to see what local graffiti artists have produced for The Broadway Center for the Performing Arts. Art was produced with the help of Tacoma's Urban Grace Church, hip-hop culture community crusaders Fab 5, and a $3,000 grant from the City of Tacoma - money set aside to help low to moderate income neighborhoods be less ugly. The work is better than anything I've ever seen on a wall in Tacoma - a potent mega-stencil inspired by Islamic sacred geometry and tile work rising like a star over fluid, wild-style. It really is next level for this sleepy little town.

Around the corner, B2 Fine Art Gallery and Studios is on the brink of opening Tacoma's next private art gallery. B2 will offer an arts lease and rental program, offering select works for short or long-term stays in select hallways and living rooms. Or offices. Or events. Art rental. Genius. B2 also will offer a full range of promotion and marketing services for local artists. For local corporate types, the Boones - proprietors of B2 - will help develop private collections and corporate collections. They'll also offer framing, installation services and more. A year in the making, B2 will fill 4,200 square feet of 711 St. Helens. Its grand opening Aug. 13 will display a diverse showing of artists from the Pacific Northwest. Expressive Facets of Nature will display the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest through the works of seven Northwest artists working in mediums ranging from threads to leaves to Chinese brushwork. You'll see work from artists working in Vancouver, B.C., Seattle, Quilcene, Sequim and Shanghai, China. The one of a kind collaborative debut will be on exhibition for six weeks, closing on Sept. 25.

Also making a debut is Mavi Contemporary Art (Sixth and South Fawcett), which will occupy the space occupied by Two Vaults.

Mavi and Elizabeth Ashe are a mother and daughter team, and have been working to transform Two Vaults since June. Mavi is a painter, and her daughter has degrees from Cornell and the Art Institute of Chicago. The debut showing will showcase the work of Gig Harbor Artist William Quinn and several others.

Joe Malik is a jaded, ornery, "power to the people type" that can't help but comment on all the stupid, awesome, or just plain questionable stuff he sees within the local arts community. Basically, he's kind of an arts-centric asshole - but we like him. The Weekly Volcano doesn't always agree with what he says, but we do enjoy stirring the pot.

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