Voronoff's Blog

Feb. 1, 2010 at 6:53pm

Tacoma Needs More ART!!!!

Critical Commentary on the City of Gritty Destiny

Dear Tacoma,

The Renaissance is OVER.

It ended a few years ago.

Did anyone notice?

Beware, gentle reader.  Some of the following words written in combination together may cause some consternation, slight discomfort, or an itchy-foot sensation, like you�ve heard it all before or maybe you agree with me and you want to see some cool shit happen in this town.  Or you disagree and you are an active celebrant of the Gritty City growing more grit and moss and slumping into a future of nondescript conservative conformity. 

with that said, you have been warned. Read on, dear reader.

This city, with its fledgling, just-hatched arts scene is desperately in need of more than one artwalk, more surprise guerilla street performance, more public sculpture, and more critical art commentary.

In fact, I get the distinct feeling that Tacomans like everything just the way it is, but I must say, this �Renaissance� that started 4 years ago is still moving at a snail�s pace and it�s time for some of you artsy people to raise the stakes.

If Tacoma ever wants to rise up to become more than a hazy afterthought of Seattle, residents of the City of Destiny must make the effort to take a few more risks and support young and emerging, starving, under-and-non-represented creative folk.

The most relevant, cutting-edge, thrilling, and challenging art of our times is very often disregarded because the artist does not have �fine art� credentials, a mile-long resume full of high-end galleries and juried show awards.

Tacoma needs more collaborative art events, multimedia art orgies, carnivalistic Andy Warhol-Style Factory Freak Fests, Absurdist Dada Parties.  Happenings happening in multiple locations at the same time for different, similar reasons.

Tacoma needs an Anti-ArtWalk at the beginning of the month. Seattle has at LEAST a First Thursday, a Second Friday, and a Second Tuesday ArtWalk. Portland has at LEAST a First Thursday, First Friday, Second Thursday and a Last Thursday.

Why can�t Tacoma do this too?

Why does Tacoma�s art world bow down so low to Seattle?

Why do Tacomans continue to keep as much as possible underground and hidden away, and then bitch about it?Tacoma needs a new home for starving, low-income artists to hang their paintings and play their music among peers, supporters, patrons, and the unwitting public. Tacoma needs a new Art Co-Op that is two-to-four times bigger and better than anything else ever. A Co-Op with little or no monthly fee that follows the RampArt model of cramming as many artists as possible onto as many available walls.

Not any kind of snooty high-end �gallery� but an explosive, bombastic, interactive, 24-hour, 7-day, ongoing art happening, gritty and funky for the avant-garde anti-elite. A place that will open its arms to the underappreciated, carve new paths of opportunity for the unexposed, and above all things, be a fun place to kick it any time of day for all-ages.

Come on, patrons, I know you�re out there.

Hey, business and building owners with those empty storefronts all over Pac Ave, DownTown, MLK, and South Tacoma Way!! Why not take a risk and invest in the arts for a change? I dare you to become a real patron and support the starving artists of your fair City of Destiny and help to transmute the urban decay.

I DARE YOU.Tacoma needs more free, non-juried group art shows that recognize and support new talent rather than accepting artists based on their show history or art education.

Tacoma needs more challenging, critical visual arts-scene commentary; voices that aren�t afraid to offend or pull punches but let it all hang out and throw the cards down. It�s time for honesty that hurts.

Tacoma needs some serious critique, with all kinds of praise and hate mixed in.

Tacoma needs more patrons like the late Steve Craig, who risked so much by opening his Broadway antique shop to a host of little-known artists who joined forces together to create a genuinely unique, affordable gallery space and a meeting ground for so many.

Perhaps some of you remember the Summer of �04, the heyday of RampaMonica�s, when the Artist Co-Op and the Restaurant/Gallery succeeded in kicking Tacoma�s art-ass into a new era with bombastic Third Thursday art events and afterparties. Panamonica�s continued the theme of featuring local undiscovered artists and hosting numerous events that celebrated Tacoma�s unique position as a breeding ground for creativity. Unfortunately Panamonica�s couldn�t last, kind of like everything else in this town.  Doomed.  Like the�Helm?  Ah, the Helm, how I loved you way back in the day.

But that�s no reason to cry in my or your hard-earned PBR, all you prideful underdog hipsters. There are plenty of descendants of that era that is dead, very dead. Look over there, 100 Monkeys are still jumpin�, bringing the art community together every few months for nostalgic get-together reunions. And look over there, no wait, it�s gone again, but I think that was an UrbanAut Party, so slyly secretive about it�s location, with art, bands, and almost-naked ladies being painted by famous �dead� artists.   Wait a second.

Whatever happened to those �dead� artists?  Have they come back to life and all got day jobs or what?

No more painting naked ladies? awwww.

Now, thank the Gods, we have Monsieur Doriss, a.k.a. the Viceroy of Hilltop (self proclaimed? or the title City Arts has dubbed him?) to thank for the completely groovy Fulcrum gallery, filling the void where the Helm left off, providing Tacoma with her one and only happenin spot on a First Friday, full of drunken scenesters and pretty ladies.  That January First Friday First Party of the Year was quite the knockout, with a trippy light show, DJ spinning his records like a zen priest, and yes the pretty ladies were there, drunk-dancing as only drunk dancers in Tacoma dance.

I have yet to witness the always amazing Monsieur Blue and his band Motopony tear shit up on stage, but their album is fantastic and I hope to hear more about their world tour in the coming months.  Or are they content to play Tacoma until they�re old and grey?

I�ve heard many a wistful neo-beatnik claim, with a misty look in their eyes, that oh, yes there is definitely a scene here in Tacoma, where the people gather to celebrate life with mirth and intelligence, but you have to really seek it out, you have to scratch at the grit to find the shiny special parts deep beneath the crusty layer of orange rust.  But what I must ask, is the point of having a scene that scuttles around in Tacoma�s gutters, tucked away in ratty buildings in shady shady shadier parts of this forlorn town.  Poor Tacoma.  And to think that the scene is secretly about to BOOM.  And oh what a scene it is.  Blossoming like a flower, our �South Sound Warehouse Scene� is about to explode with a whole ONE WAREHOUSE called, yes, the Warehouse.  The ancestry of this �scene� is of course, Brooklyn, Oakland, and everywhere else that is way too cool and lacks a little love.

Well, Citizens of Tacoma, I know you�re trying, but you must try harder. I�ve been all over the world twice and looking at Tacoma I must say there�s still a lot that�s missing.  Not to say that there are some things that aren�t. You�re off to a great start, but really, it�s time to take some more risks and dare to stand out. Do something different. Take a leap or three, see what happens. Be BOLD. Don�t wait for someone else to start doing something cool, be that person, and if you see something exciting and original happening, don�t be afraid to add your voice to the mix.

This is just the beginning of the critique, Tacoma. I have a lot to say, and I�m just digging in. You never know when or where I will turn up to scavenge more dirt on what Tacoma needs or what Tacoma already has.

If you are impressed, offended, inspired or incited by any of this, I encourage you to leave a comment; this contribution to the Blogosphere is meant to initiate a higher level of artistic discussion and if I don�t get a reaction well I guess I�ve proved a sad point of how much Tacoma is lacking. Stay tuned for more rippings and ragings at the �scene� or the lack of one here, and taste my venom with a little hit of honey drizzled on the side���..

Don�t get me wrong, or, get me wrong if you think you�re right cause you might be; I love art no matter what kind, I happen to know what I like and have formed an opinion of what�s nice and what�s not. Artists, I don�t mean to hurt your feelings. I just want to stick you in the ribs with my paintbrush and get you out there making more art, performing more, writing more, creating, creating, acting, doing. Feel free to critique my critique. Or if you want to have your own page for your own rants, contact me and let�s make it happen.

I want more dialogue.

That�s why I started this foolish blog in the first place and making surprise, discreet appearances at gallery openings disguised as a critic in disguise.

~Voronoff the GhostCritic

comments [37]  |  posted under art blog, artwalk, C.L.A.W., feed tacoma, first thursday conspiracy theory upcoming, r.r. anderson, tacomic, thorax o'tool, thursday the third


by NineInchNachos on 2/1/2010 @ 8:55pm
tacoma needs more mimes!

by Voronoff on 2/1/2010 @ 10:39pm
tacoma needs more tacomics!

by jenyum on 2/1/2010 @ 10:50pm
Tacoma needs CSS!

Stop copying and pasting from Word!

All of your characters are jacked up!

Your pictures are really cool, however!

by Voronoff on 2/1/2010 @ 10:57pm
i happen to like jacked (&%-up-(&*^&^ characters, but thanks for pointing that out. maybe in my next(&*^%$$%^&_+ rant +and+ rave i will not copy and paste from word but then again i might and add more jacked up characters,()*&^%%$$#@ if i know it bothers at least one person it might be worth the extra effort!
!@@#$%^^&&**(()!!!!!!!!!!!!! thanks for the compliment on the pics.

by NineInchNachos on 2/1/2010 @ 11:03pm
it's YOur apostrophe! they're insaNE!

by jenyum on 2/1/2010 @ 11:21pm
i happen to like jacked (&%-up-(&*^&^ characters, but thanks for pointing that out. maybe in my next(&*^%$$%^&_+ rant +and+ rave i will not copy and paste from word but then again i might and add more jacked up characters,()*&^%%$$#@ if i know it bothers at least one person it might be worth the extra effort!
!@@#$%^^&&**(()!!!!!!!!!!!!! thanks for the compliment on the pics.

I see how you are.

by NineInchNachos on 2/1/2010 @ 11:59pm
What ever happened to the Helm Gallery? AND why is Steve Dunkleburger writing art columns for Exit 133? IS Jeremy Greggory getting paid for drawing "edgy but not offensive" cartoons for City Arts ? What's with the Fulcrum Gallery dudes hair... is he baha'i or something? Why won't City Arts return my emails? I want to know gaul dern it!

by Erik on 2/2/2010 @ 12:37am
In fact, I get the distinct feeling that Tacomans like everything just the way it is, but I must say, this Renaissance that started 4 years ago is still moving at a snails pace and its time for some of you artsy people to raise the stakes.

Say Voronoff, have you ever tried your hand at chalking? You might have what it takes to be a Frost Park chalkie.

That's the artistic vortex in Tacoma, which offers the opportunity for the gifted to be transformed from a obscure artist to the (relatively) big time:


And then, if you are lucky and sufficiently advanced in your craft, you have a chance to be "tapped" and asked to apply to be a member of C.L.A.W. Yet, the admission for membership is highly competitive:


Tacoma needs a new home for starving, low-income artists to hang their paintings and play their music among peers, supporters, patrons, and the unwitting public.

Ask Angela if they still have space for you at the co-op:


by L.S.Erhardt on 2/2/2010 @ 1:21am
There is a hurricane approaching... the fury and intensity of a thousand aspirations howl like banshees shunned by Heaven's Light.

Become one with the storm, or be leveled beneath it

by Voronoff on 2/3/2010 @ 10:44am
These are all good things to know. Yes Erik, I have tried my hand at chalking. It thrills me greatly to know I could become relatively locally famous by being recognized at Frost Park as a 'chalkie', and perhaps canonized for my useless sacrifices to the local community. i do have some bigger fish to fry. Like that pesky grand master of all secret societies, R.R. I have the real dirt on him and his CLAW cronies thanks to an inside insider. more to come very soon. yes i know all about the speakeasy. Thorax, it is less of a hurricane and much much more of an ART QUAKE.

by L.S.Erhardt on 2/3/2010 @ 10:48am
As long as the Artquake is stronger than the 6.5 Nisqually Quake

by Voronoff on 2/3/2010 @ 11:15am
beware. the ghost critic trashes toxic tacomixcs too.

by NineInchNachos on 2/3/2010 @ 11:39am
tacoma needs no more pornographik activity with a fokkin' seafood creature!

by Voronoff on 2/3/2010 @ 12:36pm
or tuna?

by NineInchNachos on 2/3/2010 @ 12:38pm

by Erik on 2/3/2010 @ 12:51pm
Looks like Voronoff may be ready to enter the fray of Frost Park.

by NineInchNachos on 2/3/2010 @ 12:54pm
seems like the type who would like those surveyors chalk powder refill squirt bottles.

by spoonfulofpeter on 2/3/2010 @ 1:00pm
Who cares what seattle does? Who cares what Tacoma does? Do what you like. Think not about what other people do. Hone (and own) what you do.

I am actually of the mindset that Tacoma needs less art.

by NineInchNachos on 2/3/2010 @ 1:04pm
Hey who died and made you the 'ghost critic' spoonful?

by vintagecreature on 2/3/2010 @ 1:40pm
I don't know if this is the correct forum for my question. I came across this site while looking for live/work space. Being out of work for a little more than a year now I am in pursuit of opening my own art business. However, that does not mean I am ready to fork over the profit from the sale of my home over to a landlord for a rental payment. I'm 46 years old and I need an investment for the future.....Are'nt people interested in buying they're retail space and building something for the future, I know I am? I understand that if you don't have the big bucks you just don't have them and I understand that the city is not going to bankroll the purchasing of a live/work or even a just a retail space for me. But, seems to me with all the empty buildings and the need for working people to actually build something for the future, these developers and building owners could put two and two together and offer up some retail condo's for purchase at a price even a working class artist could afford with some effort...just a thought--- and a hopefully planted seed.

by The Jinxmedic on 2/3/2010 @ 2:17pm
The Tacoma maker's shed is starting up- should be opening its doors for memberships on the 15th of February. There is a post about it here:

Blog: ravencraftmakeshed.wordpress.com/

This should be a great community space for artisans and hackers to do their thing, check the blog for more information regarding the upcoming open house BBQ.

by Girl Who <3 JUNK on 2/3/2010 @ 4:10pm
"yes i know all about the speakeasy"

You mentioned here you know all about the speakeasy. But, you didn't metion that you're a member of Speakeasy.

Maybe spend time on marketing a place where you art is and speak more postive about it.

Just a thought!

by L.S.Erhardt on 2/3/2010 @ 7:29pm
well, it depends on the kind of art.

Stick with me on this, even if it seems like my thought-train is on a wrong-way track.

Art comes in two types, even if the motive is the same.
There is art for profit and art for free.

Now, art for profit is plenty noble. And if you happen to figure out how to live off your art, I have tremendous respect for you. I'd be stoked to sell one piece, much less be able to be financially successful.
Most art, including the Speakeasy fit in here. There is absolutely noting wrong with this. We need to have artists who can make a living on it, and we need to have art you can buy and hold, admire and hang on your wall.
We're getting some decent gallery action finally in Tacoma. This is a ball the we NEED to keep rolling.

Art for free is a different beast. It can be fleeting, it can be permanent. It's this kind of art that is done because it has to be done for the good of the soul of society. Our Frost Park is this kind. We don't ever make $$$ off of it, but we do it anyway. Street mimes are this type of art. So is a dude playing the violin on the street corner. So is Graff. It's done at no cost to the public for their benefit... even if not everyone sees the benefit.
Again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this.

The way I see it, and I think the way Vornoff the Mighty sees it, is that Tacoma doesn't have enough of the free kind of art. We have a good start with Frost Park and the chair thing last summer in Tollfeson. But those are a start. We need more of the free kind of art.

It's good for Our Soul.

by Maria on 2/3/2010 @ 11:16pm
Mr. Voronoff, yes the world needs more art. And music and poetry and such. You need to find one or two people who'll collaborate and scheme with you. I don't think it's an accident that so many important creative movements arose from the interactions of groups of artists, photographers, writers, etc.

It's hard to be creative alone...plus realizing bigger projects takes help. But getting too many artists together is like herding Picasso cats. So I hope you find a small handful of, or even one or two, art activists with similar vision, motivation, time, resources...and that 2010 brings more art to Tacoma. Good luck!!

by Mofo from the Hood on 2/4/2010 @ 12:09am
Tacoma does not need more art.

There is more art in Tacoma than any one person could see, hear, taste, smell, or touch in a lifetime.

Look at the "art" posted anywhere on FeedTacoma. It's like electronic litter. A bunch of used electronic Kleenex's. Here, you want another used Kleenex? You can have my essay when I'm done with it.

Hey, City of Tacoma, are you reading this literary art that I'm making? Give me a grant, so I can buy some more Nalley's Jalapeno Chile and a can of ground coffee. Caffeine free.

Free Tacoma! Electronic art litter is Out of Control. So is the art litter I stumble over when I walk the streets of this art garbage can of a city.

Bunch of recycled garbage made with recycled ideas from recycled minds made of recycled media.

Tacoma does not need more art. Tacoma needs more garbage cans. Not the recycling kind. The REAL kind.

by Voronoff on 2/4/2010 @ 1:21am
thanks for that great advice on how to promote. I'll consider it. Meanwhile, have you all had a chance to see www.speakeasyart.wordpress.com??? It is a site that I created for my co- op. Also meanwhile, have you heard about First Thursday art walk? It is a tradition in real cities such as Seattle and Portland and even San Francisco where galleries celebrate the opening of their months crop of artists. We will be inaugurating the VERY FIRST FIRST THURSDAYartwalk EVER IN TACOMA at 7-9pm. We will not have the mayor on hand to snip a pretty red ribbon but we will be making art and walking on art and eating food all at the same time. Really, I know it is a silly thing. Doesn't Tacoma already have an artwalk? yes, it is Turd Thursday and the museums are free. awesome. and some of the 'galleries' open their rusty doors and smile wide as 5.4 people crawl through the gates. Do the people of Tacoma wish to continue to slumber right through a Second Renaissance? The Renaissance will be Resurrected at 7pm tonite, hosted by the Members of the Speakeasy,

by Erik on 2/4/2010 @ 1:50am
There are several different layers of professional artist. there is the ‘fluff’ artist which is a favorite of Tacoma arts commission funding or who make pretty glass fruit bowls… and then there is the category of artists whom bring the inanimate into the realm of the living and or forge their will upon the world.

I am not trying to undermine the importance of the fluff artist since they provide a valuable service distracting/pacifying the civilian populations THEN provide a nice contrast when the serious artist reveals him or herself to the world.

Also, if you ever encounter a person claiming to be an artist and willing to ‘donate to the community’ beware, you are in the presence of a fifth columnist.

by Voronoff on 2/4/2010 @ 6:46am
i can't handle any more fluff.
and watch out for 'squatting artists'
they may be lurking around any corner downtown...
squatting on the sidewalk in front of your office.
squatting and swatting at flies.

by NineInchNachos on 2/4/2010 @ 12:56pm
the "Mofo from the hood" meme is one of my personal art projects. Pay him no mind.

Mofo, who are the 'REAL' garbage cans and who are the 'FAKE' garbage cans?

by Mofo from the Hood on 2/4/2010 @ 3:03pm
I make the art to bend your mind.

You interpret it.

by Voronoff on 2/4/2010 @ 4:40pm
i'm really inspired by this discussion to write a critique on the putrid smell of Tacoma. The variations from smoggy diarhhea to rotted fruity spam come to mind. much more to come, very soon. i see a direct correlation between the way Tacoma smells and the general health of the art community here.

by NineInchNachos on 2/4/2010 @ 4:53pm
Hey, that's the smell of money. Chin up!

by NineInchNachos on 2/4/2010 @ 9:15pm
hey while were talkin' trash, can you give a ghost critique of my main political cartoon competitor Tacoma Trashcan ?


The Tacoma Weekly likes him cause he will work for free. Can you believe that guy?

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 2/4/2010 @ 9:33pm
Wow, that TacomaTrashCan comic is really Tacoma centric.

by L.S.Erhardt on 2/4/2010 @ 9:41pm
The name is incredibly appropriate.

by Voronoff on 2/5/2010 @ 3:23pm
i can believe an artist will do it for free. of course! i put out all the time for free. but not for long. the giving must stop! no more free anything! everything should cost money! if i knew before i was born that life would be so expensive i might have waited a few centuries more when 'they' abolish money and re-institute the trade-barter-gift- a la burning man bohemian zeitgeist hedonistic freee love lovin happy times era.

by NineInchNachos on 2/5/2010 @ 4:57pm
oh lord you used the 'h-word' (hedonistic) which is a secret attack command implanted in the computer hive brain of mofo from the hood. stand back!