TDI -- Reporter's Blog

Aug. 3, 2009 at 11:15am

Rialto Theater Mural

The run-down west wall of the historic Rialto Theater downtown could soon get some artistic attention thanks to a collaboration between Broadway Center For the Performing Arts, Urban Grace church, and a group of local artists from Fab 5. Urban Grace was recently awarded a grant by the city's neighborhood innovative grant program, which aims to benefit low to moderate income neighborhoods or communities through physical improvements that remove blighted conditions.

I wrote an article about the proposed Rialto mural for today's edition of the Tacoma Daily Index.

According to the project summary shared with the Landmarks Preservation Commission's Architectural Review Committee last week, three proposed designs have been created. However, Urban Grace senior pastor Tad Monroe and BCPA Executive Director David Fischer say these proposals will likely change as more community input is received.

The pair plans to meet with the city's Public Assemblies Facilities Department, the Tacoma Arts Commission, resident arts organizations, and BCPA's board of directors for their input. "We are open to adjustments and other ideas," Monroe told the committee. "I don't think we have a very specific plan. We just want something the whole community will accept."

Still, here are the three early ideas . . .

I. "The City of Destiny: Tacoma as an Iconic Metropolitan Area"

II. "Art and Spiritual Awakening Through the Creative Spirit"

III. "Renaissance As Revolution: Changing Perceptions"

-- The quote in the center reads: "All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions." -- Leonardo Da Vinci

comments [64]  |  posted under Art, Downtown, Tacoma


by morgan on 8/3/2009 @ 1:16pm
Very cool! Vintage Kneeling Nude Pin-Up Black Velvet Painting Especially nice to see different groups working together. I like the last image shown here.

by NSHDscott on 8/3/2009 @ 1:55pm
One vote for "Renaissance As Revolution"

by Erik on 8/3/2009 @ 2:46pm
They all look like they would be an improvement to the current condition. My preference is for a modified No. 1.

by L.S.Erhardt on 8/3/2009 @ 3:15pm
#3 has a cool pattern, but #1 takes my vote.
I vote for THORAX.

oops! I mean #1

by KevinFreitas on 8/3/2009 @ 8:48pm
#1 is cool in a very "Tacoma" sort of way but I think #2 gets my vote. Tho, overall, is it OK to say I kinda' don't like any of 'em?

by L.S.Erhardt on 8/3/2009 @ 9:17pm
of course it is... preference is just that.

Of the 3, I like 1 the best... but that doesn't mean I'd have it on my living room wall...

by NineInchNachos on 8/3/2009 @ 9:27pm
I like them all except for the scribbly urban-art hip-hop 'tags'

I can only take so much Embellish Multi-Salon decoration... I like to keep that stuff in the fringe, under the bridges where 253hiphop dude can take pictures of it.

by NineInchNachos on 8/3/2009 @ 9:34pm
there is something incestuous I think about disguising one historical building with pictures of another historical building from across town.

Is this what it has come too? being stuck in a historical feedback loop ground hog day?

by fredo on 8/26/2009 @ 7:31am
Here's something worth pointing out.

This is being paid for by a city grant. For those who don't understand, that's your tax money. We're told there's no money to fix potholes but we have money to pay some kids to spray graffiti on the side of the rialto theatre? And since I'm a kind of a glass-is-half-empty type of person here's an additional question: who is going to pay to maintain this "art" into perpetuity?

by fredo on 8/26/2009 @ 7:59am
I found a better quote to replace the proposed di vinci quote.

"It's my misery that I have to paint this kind of painting, it's your misery that you have to love it, and the price of the misery is $3000"- Mark Rothko

by thriceallamerican on 8/26/2009 @ 8:49am
Damn, I wish it had been my ugly truck parked in the middle of the photo they used to create these mockups...

I dig the awesome tile-work motif of #3, but I agree with others who think the graffiti-ish portion of all three seems out-of-place. (And why is the graffiti-ish portion the same in all of them? Some significance to the symbol? Does Urban Grace Church have it's own signature tagging logo?)

by The Jinxmedic on 8/26/2009 @ 9:37am
Maybe we can bring the stae capitol's "Twelve Labors of Hercules" out of storage...

by fredo on 8/26/2009 @ 9:47am
"Graffiti-ish portion seems out-of-place"

Right on thrice. Most property owners I know are trying to keep this gibberish OFF their buildings and now a proposal to let the taxpayers place it ON a building. If Grace Church wants some graffiti in their neighborhood why don't they offer the side of their building and some spray cans? I'm sure some "Fab" people would step forward to accommodate their no cost to the taxpayers.

Here's a final thought. The city couldn't find money to paint the side of the Rialto theatre until the proposal to put the Islamic motif art came along. Now... plenty of money. Let's use this magical funding phenomenon to good advantage. I propose that we design some Islamic styled asphalt for placement over the city streets. Then we will write a grant to fund it. Result: smooth streets with Islamic designs.

by tacoma1 on 8/26/2009 @ 9:52am
I don't have an artistic bone or eye in me, so I'm not a good judge of art. I do kinda like the third one.

That being said, the graffiti graphics have gotta go. Not only does it cheapen the overall look, it will likely spur more graffiti around town. I thought we were trying to get rid of that crap. Sorry, but I don't want my tax dollars going to promote graffiti of any kind, even if it is "artistic" graffiti.

Oddly, I think that I am agreeing with fredo on this one. Does anyone know where to send feedback to the decision makers on this?

by Nick on 8/26/2009 @ 9:58am
I'm all for acknowledging responsibly placed graffiti art as an art form, but just like any other art form it only works in the appropriate context, and this case is *not* one of those.

Also, #3 jumps out at me the most because it seems to complement the building's existing design/shape.

by ixia on 8/26/2009 @ 10:07am
Graffiti and tagging are not the same. Tagging is marking territory, scrawling one�s name on a site. Graffiti is a style of painting. 6th Ave has a series of graffiti walls. Those walls used to get tagged, but ever since there are painted in graffiti style, they have been left alone. Taggers need an �abandoned wall� for their signature, otherwise it will not show. So graffiti stops tagging. Saying graffiti is bad is equal to saying oil panting or water color is bad.
As far as my opinion on the Rialto: let artists do their work. If everybody has a right to chime in, the result will be art by committee, devoid of all inspiration and artistic expression. If you want to have a voice, apply for a position on the Arts Commission.

by tacoma1 on 8/26/2009 @ 10:31am
My tax dollars being spent allows me to have an opinion. Ok, I don't like graffiti art. My opinion only, I'm not an artist, not even close. If that means that oil painting and watercolor are bad too, then I guess oil and watercolor are bad too.

by ixia on 8/26/2009 @ 10:41am
Your tax dollars also run the fire department. You can't tell them what to do either. Life is just that way.

by tacoma1 on 8/26/2009 @ 10:46am
So, what your saying is that if I don't have expertise in a particular field, then my opinion on how the allocated tax dollars for that project are spent is unimportant. Is that right?

by NineInchNachos on 8/26/2009 @ 10:58am
Graffiti, and 'street art' gives young people and corporate marketing teams a channel of communication under the guise of creative expression without having to suffer through traditional art school: working hard to learn things like figure drawing, 3d perspective draftsmanship and color theory.

by fredo on 8/26/2009 @ 11:01am
"...taggers need an abandoned wall for their signature..otherwise it will not show. So graffiti stops tagging"

Ixia@ I dunno. This sounds less like reasoned opinion and more like urban myth. There is/was a beautiful mural near the Zoo in Seattle that has been constantly hit by taggers.

This discussion has two distinct issues. Is the Islamic/graffiti mural artistic? and Does the use of tax funds for placing Islamic/graffiti murals on a public building represent an appropriate use of tax funds? People with an opinion on either issue should weigh in on this discussion as frequently as they so desire.

by NineInchNachos on 8/26/2009 @ 11:24am
doing a quick control-f on this thread it appears the only one scared of "islamic" graffiti is mr. Fredo. I don't understand what he is talking about.

by tacoma1 on 8/26/2009 @ 11:30am
I'd still like Ixia to confirm that one has to have specific expertise on the topic, to have an opinion.

by ixia on 8/26/2009 @ 12:04pm
Opinions sure, sure....have at it. I confirm that for you.

by Mofo from the Hood on 8/26/2009 @ 12:12pm
People, why can't we all just get along.

Here's my proposal:

Cover the Rialto wall with mirror tiles from Home Depot so as to reflect from across the street some dope Islamic graffiti sprayed on Urban Grace Church.

by fredo on 8/26/2009 @ 12:17pm
"'islamic' graffiti. I don't understand what he (Fredo) is talking about."

Mr. Nachos the design chosen is the one shown above labeled number III. The News Tribune referred to it as 'islamic themed graffiti.' I didn't coin the phrase.

by NSHDscott on 8/26/2009 @ 12:21pm
NIN, that News Tribune article is what set off this whole "Islamic" thing. I don't see any religious motif in the chosen art (#3) and would just describe is as "Middle Eastern themed." I prefer to just look at it as art, not some politi-religious statement, and I think it's lovely. I will happily invest my 1.5 cents of tax money (3000 dollars shared by 200,000 Tacoma residents) in this artwork.

by L.S.Erhardt on 8/26/2009 @ 12:29pm
For those complaining about city money, do remember something:
Tax dollars get allocated. Each and every road in this city gets a certain amount allocated to it, pothole repair is an allocation in and of itself, etc. Furthermore, legally once allocated the monies almost always can't be reallocated elsewhere. So the $ being spent on the mural cannot be spent on the roads... it has to be spent in the city's art budget.

Now, personally I like graffiti. I'll decline to define specifics, but I have been known to rock the Krylon myself in the past. I have no issue with graff being included in the mural.
I would like to see the graffiti garage re-opened or even a graff park (they have something similar in NYC where a wall in an fairly secluded, underused park in Brooklyn was built just for graff). An official place for graff, the only place where it is 100% legal and encouraged... imagine it! A wall of constantly changing art. Nice.

by tacoma1 on 8/26/2009 @ 12:32pm
I no longer have an opinion on this topic.

by NineInchNachos on 8/26/2009 @ 1:29pm
ok gotcha.

ha! I like the islamic mural..

by ixia on 8/26/2009 @ 2:00pm
The mural appears to be funded by an innovative neighborhood grant. These grants are applied for by neighborhood groups and prioritized and voted for by the various neighborhood councils. The grants fund a variety of neighborhood projects, from safety to beautification, and are competitive. Generally the Arts Commission does not get involved in these projects - I am surprised that this time they are.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 8/26/2009 @ 2:45pm
For those so inclined the infamous "Twelve Labors of Hercules" is now housed at Centralia college. Centralia, a fine little town in Lewis county to the south has many fine murals about town and it seems like the college has become the archive of murals that have fallen from grace. It would be very cool to press it into service at the Rialto site.

by NineInchNachos on 8/26/2009 @ 3:01pm
12 labors

by L.S.Erhardt on 8/26/2009 @ 6:46pm
Why don't one of design the "3 labors of RR Anderson"?
could be pretty epic.

by panachronic on 8/26/2009 @ 11:58pm
Tasteful mural on the back of the Rialto: Yes.

$3000 of city money to do it: Hell no!

by KevinFreitas on 8/27/2009 @ 6:38am
The more art around town the better. I'm happy to see the city supporting this mural and other art-related projects about town since very few others cough up the bucks to do so! Part of a city's function is to help make our quality of life better which can happen through many ways. Basic services are some but others are ones that speak in different ways.

By covering this facade with a mural it will help prevent other tagging and graffiti which is always good for the image and safety of a neighborhood. If I had my way there would be murals all over barren walls about town whether I pay for them or the city does.

by fredo on 8/27/2009 @ 7:01am

The innovative grant program is not an art program. Groups can propose all sorts of improvements such as speed bumps or garbage cans. It just happens that the one chosen is this "art" proposed by Grace Church.

The grant is supposed to improve a blighted condition. I've seen the Rialto theater and never noticed any blight however I'm pretty sure when the graffiti goes up the blight will be apparent to everybody.

It's interesting to me that of all the buildings in downtown Tacoma which could benefit from a similar "facelift" the grant is going to go to improve the view of the Grace Church, the same people who made the proposal. Coincidence?

by KevinFreitas on 8/27/2009 @ 8:26am
Sounds like if the grant was awarded then the "powers that be" saw enough of a need to grant it. Besides, they want to spiff up that 'hood anyway because of the BLID prettiness. It's easy to want to continue to improve upon a neighborhood once there's already momentum behind it.

And I'd wager to say that the term "innovative" applies moreso to art than it does to putting in new speed bumps or garbage cans. :S

by ixia on 8/27/2009 @ 8:38am
Fredo: get involved in your neighborhood. Apply for a grant; have it approved by the neighborhood council and go at it. Pick a wall you'd like or any speed bump or alley light you see the need for. And so your involvement gets rewarded by a grant. And the entire community is served well. A nice way to put your own tax money to work and to have your say. Innovative neighborhood grants are amazing. Sad to see some folks begrudging the little bit of money used.

by NineInchNachos on 8/27/2009 @ 8:43am
the self-existent uncaused eternal burrito says she loves all forms of art and hates to see her children fighting over abstractions such as fiat currency.

Where is the love fredo?

by Mofo from the Hood on 8/27/2009 @ 9:10am
FIAT currency:


People, every problem can be fixed by government money. The supply will never run out. When the supply gets low, Tony will just print more.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 8/27/2009 @ 9:35am
$3000 for a mural that will last for decades and provide improvement and joy for an otherwise neglected part of downtown seems like quite a bargain to me. Art is good for a community and the money is almost always well spent. Tacoma needs more murals. A lot of our parking lots with huge expanses of concrete walls would certainly benefit from this. I'm sad that the graffiti garage was painted over, certainly a bright spot on our former Antique Row.

by panachronic on 8/27/2009 @ 11:09am
Nonsense. If the mural is such a good investment, the property owners should be happy to pay for it themselves. There is no reason for the taxpayers of the city to be on the hook.

In fact, if this mural is such a good idea, why not pass a city ordinance and *require* the owners to do it at their own expense? Or, maybe everybody who thinks that "Tacoma needs more murals" should pass the hat and pay for it out of their own pockets.

The city isn't exactly flush with cash, you know. I've got a street in front of my house that needs fixing. I haven't seen a street sweeper down my street in a year. And my neighbor, a city employee, is only getting a 17% raise this year.

by NineInchNachos on 8/27/2009 @ 11:52am
don't be persnickety, the city is also funding my upcoming TACOMIC book which is much more important than your smelly ol' street mr. panachronic

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 8/27/2009 @ 2:09pm
The potholes are intentional, they are there for traffic calming. Surely you don't want people speeding through your neighborhood at 90 mph. If someone was passing the hat around I'm sure I could spare a few clams to see some Islamo-Graffitist art on the wall of the Rialto. If not for the potholes they'd be putting in those traffic circles which I know everyone loves. Be glad your city employee neighbor is getting a nice fat raise, maybe it will keep a house out of foreclosure and maintain your property values.

by panachronic on 8/27/2009 @ 3:37pm
I've noticed there's never any potholes in the bike lanes, for some reason. Hmmm.

by intacoma on 8/27/2009 @ 4:15pm
lets just put a loan sign with an arrow on it

by fredo on 8/27/2009 @ 6:52pm
The $3000 graffiti art is certainly a small extravagance compared to the city budget, but come election time I wouldn't be surprised to see a significant portion of the voters vote down an important levy or bond as a backlash. I can't speak for the public, but I don't think the average taxpayer wants any portion of his taxes to support the application of graffiti.

by panachronic on 8/27/2009 @ 8:05pm
I suppose once it's been painted, the mural could be reported to TacomaCares as graffiti.

by NineInchNachos on 8/27/2009 @ 8:30pm
hey that's cold. why are old people so mean?

by panachronic on 8/27/2009 @ 8:41pm
Because young people want to piss away my money on crappy stuff that I don't want.

by L.S.Erhardt on 8/27/2009 @ 8:59pm
Every generation says that about the younger ones.

by NineInchNachos on 8/27/2009 @ 9:05pm
in the words of my art director: "don't hate, participate"

I still like you though panachronic.
We will melt your icy Popsicle heart with kindness.

by fredo on 8/27/2009 @ 9:10pm
"...we just want something the whole community will accept." offered Pastor Tad Monroe.

Tad- This discussion should show you that their is no design that the whole community will accept. How about dropping the graffiti and keeping the attractive "Islamic" design? I think that will generate the most support. Also the da Vinci quote is too abstract for Tacoma. How about this: "Emerald Queen Casino just 5 minutes south!"

by panachronic on 8/27/2009 @ 9:18pm
Not quite true, Fredo. I'd be OK with just about anything (except an advertisement) on that wall... so long as I don't have to pay for it. Hell, I might even be OK with paying for it, IF the city was more on top of it's basic duties to its citizens.

The reason this city is falling apart, and has been falling apart, for 40 years is that city officials have zero sense of priority and don't feel any obligation at all to fulfill their basic purpose. That, in turn, is caused by either apathy or do-good/feel-good moonbat thinking (like we see on this board pretty frequently) on the part of voters.

If people would get properly pissed off now and then, this place (the city) would look a whole lot spiffier.

by NineInchNachos on 8/27/2009 @ 9:22pm
I wonder how much one of those Lenin statues cost.

by fredo on 8/27/2009 @ 9:28pm
panachronic@ I couldn't agree more. The city should do a better job arranging its priorities, especially considering that we are spending reserves to meet payroll obligations. The innovative grant program is supposed to remedy "blighted" conditions. There is no blighted condition being remedied. The city finances OTOH are in a blighted condition and the city manager should immediately suspend the innovative grant program.

by Mofo from the Hood on 8/27/2009 @ 9:30pm
The Rialto is plainly visible to all sorts of people at all hours.

Is it possible to place art on the Rialto that doesn't inspire error?

by NineInchNachos on 8/27/2009 @ 9:47pm
mofo, I don't think the fab-5 christian missionary group would place atheist inspired art on the Rialto.

You should be happy about the "Islamic" mosaic at-least Islam acknowledges a monotheistic deity.

by NineInchNachos on 8/27/2009 @ 9:50pm
If they asked me (and they surely did not) I would have opted for a more humanist theme; like my beloved coit tower murals:

coit tower

by NineInchNachos on 8/27/2009 @ 9:52pm

I would have volunteered my artistic services... like I do every Friday at noon.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 8/27/2009 @ 10:44pm
The Coit Tower murals are a true marvel. No trip to San Francisco should be without a trip to the Coit Tower.

by Mofo from the Hood on 8/28/2009 @ 9:14am
Live car wrecks are best.

by L.S.Erhardt on 8/28/2009 @ 11:20am
Live car wrecks should be limited to Monster Truck SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY! at the TACOMA DOME!


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