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Here comes Tacoma's Art at Work Month

November is brimming with hundreds of arts and culture programs

Chandler O'Leary of Anagram Press helps Eva Avila print a keepsake on an antique press during the Tacoma Studio Tour. Photo courtesy of City of Tacoma Arts Program

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November is Art at Work Month in Tacoma and one of the city's shining jewels. It's not only a showcase of the best, brightest and most unique on the local art scene, but also a time that makes art accessible to everyone.

Art at Work is not one event, but many - MANY! Even better, most of the events held through the month are completely free.

"Good news is that nothing got nixed this year for Art at Work Month," says Naomi Strom-Avila, cultural arts specialist at the Tacoma Arts Commission. "The Tacoma Arts Commission is producing two signature events - the Opening Party on October 28 and the Tacoma Studio Tour on November 2 and 3. On top of those things, there are 300 plus - and I'm still working on adding more - arts and cultural events happening throughout the month in Tacoma."

Like last year, you can find out what's on when via, which replaced the printed booklet of yore. Fret not, for the website is even better than last year's and has a growing list of things to do.

First and foremost, the Opening Party on Oct. 28 at Foss Waterway Seaport (705 Dock St.) is open to the public, all ages and it's free. This year, the party will bring in more bang for your buck - well, your figurative buck since it's free. Jazz is by Taxi Driver and there will be special visual treats, such as a molten iron pour by Tacoma Community College, a dance performance by the BareFoot Collective, urban arts by Fab-5, films, poems and a hands-on public art project with Diane Hansen.

Mayor Marilyn Strickland, Councilwoman Lauren Walker and Deputy Mayor Marty Campbell will also award the 2013 AMOCAT Arts Awards at the party.

The driving force behind Art at Work is its studio tours - where Tacoma artists of all stripes invite the public into their working studios. The intent is to show the public how and where art is made, and to get up close and personal with artistic creation.

"The Tacoma Studio Tour has 60 artists this year," Strom-Avila says. "Every studio will have a demonstration project or hands-on activity for visitors to try - it's for all ages. This event is an amazing opportunity for the public to meet some of Tacoma's very own artists and learn about their creative process. Plus, many studios will have beautiful hand-crafted pieces for sale, just in time for the holidays."

This year brings out several artists completely new to the tour, including Marit Berg and Rusty George Creative, as well as several who have been on tours in the past, but not recently.

Too overwhelming? The Art Bus will save you. On each day of the studio tours, the Art Bus will whisk tour goers to six or seven studios during the course of three hours. Saturday, Nov. 2, there's even a celebrity tour guide on the Art Bus - King 5's Rich Marriott.

On top of the sponsored party and studio tours, Art at Work Month also envelops many indie presentations, shows and performances taking place throughout December. If it has to do with art, Art at Work Month is happy to overlap with it. Hence, you will also find on the website a long list of events taking place at venues all around Tacoma.

Still too overwhelming? Sign up for the e-newsletter. The letter goes out twice weekly from mid-October through November only and then not at all for the rest of the year. Newsletters include events during the next few days so you know what's coming up without having to plan far ahead.

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