2017 AMOCAT Arts Award winners announced

The Tacoma Arts Commission has announced this year’s AMOCAT Arts Award winners: Tacoma Housing Authority (Arts Patron), Monkeyshines (Community Outreach by an Organization), and Michael Haeflinger (Community Outreach by an Individual). The AMOCAT Arts Awards honor the people and organizations that positively impact the community with their passion, innovation and commitment to the arts.

Arts Patron Award: This award goes to Tacoma Housing Authority (THA)  for its sustained commitment to investing in public art in its affordable housing projects.

Established in 1940, THA helps Tacoma meet the growing need for affordable housing. It does this in several ways: it develops and manages real estate; it provides rental housing; in partnership with thousands of landlords, it helps families pay the rent in the private rental market; and it delivers supportive services to help families succeed not just as tenants but also as parents, students, wage earners and builders of assets who can live without assistance. It seeks to do its work in ways that help neighborhoods be attractive places to live, work, attend school, shop and play, and that help its city be safe, vibrant, prosperous, attractive and just.

THA believes that art helps this work in several ways. Art beautifies the landscape, and beauty is contagious. Art helps residents view their neighborhood as a distinctive place, and welcomes others to the neighborhood while allowing them to feel like the community is theirs. Art can do this especially if the residents are engaged in the process.

THA’s commitment to including public art has resulted in three projects at Bay Terrace: Yuki Nakamura’s “TransFORM” benches, Diane Hansen & Jennifer Weddermann’s “Seabranches & Pearls” metal and glass wall sculpture, and Christopher Paul Jordan & Kenji Stoll’s “Home Court” basketball court. It has also resulted in music programming at Bay Terrace led by Will Jordan, and a playground mural at Bergerson Terrace.

Community Outreach by an Organization Award: This award goes to Monkeyshines for mobilizing the public to explore Tacoma and create community through the act of giving.

Monkeyshines began in 2003 as a one-time event with the simple thought that we all have the ability to positively impact each other.

In that first year, a small group of individuals created over 200 glass floats, embossed with the face of a monkey, and hid the pieces all over Tacoma. Their hope was that the joy of finding a treasure would ripple throughout the community and uplift it.

The excitement generated that first year spurred the anonymous artists to commit to 12 years of the Lunar New Year cycle. After the first 12 years had passed, the ever-growing band of anonymous Monkeyshiners committed to a second 12-year cycle.

Today, glass studios donate shop time; glass artists, painters, sculptors, writers, elementary school children, and other creatives make gifts for the city; and volunteers wake up early to hide the small pieces of art throughout Tacoma. In addition, the community adds their own art, contributing original photographs and prints, sculptures, jewelry, stories, songs, folklore, laser cut treasures, glass marbles, and more. Monkeyshiners are proud to be in Tacoma, a city that not only embraces this event, but asks itself, “What can I share?”

 Community Outreach by an Individual Award: This award goes to Michael Haeflinger for his commitment to the literary arts and youth of Tacoma.

Haeflinger is Executive Director for Write253, a non-profit literacy arts organization that serves Pierce County youth by providing workshops, poetry festivals, and publishing opportunities, including Louder Than a Bomb: The Tacoma Teen Poetry Festival and The Tacoma Poetry Festival Youth Day.

He began writing poetry in high school under the encouragement and guidance of his junior year English teacher, Ms. Rene Gabbard. Like her, Haeflinger hopes he can help introduce young people to writing that helps them define their lives.

Haeflinger is the author of two collections of poetry: Love Poem for the Everyday and The Days Before, both published by Dog On A Chain Press. In 2016, he released Let’s Don’t Be Crazy, a spoken word album partially funded by the Tacoma Arts Commission.

This year’s awardees will be honored at Kaleidoscope, the annual Tacoma Arts Month opening party, on Oct. 4, from 6 – 9 p.m., at The Spire (710 S. Anderson St.). 

Mayor Marilyn Strickland along with Council Members Keith Blocker and Marty Campbell will present the awards starting at 6 p.m.

In addition, there will be live entertainment at this event that includes music by Will Jordan, Smokey Wonder, Travis Barker, Ben Wildenhaus, and Chromatography; West African dance and drumming by T.U.P.A.C.; Taiwanese dance by Asia Pacific Cultural Center; contemporary dance by Barefoot Collective; poetry by Tacoma Poet Laureate Kellie Richardson and Jinx Jones; and a staged reading of “CLOSE” written by Nick Stokes and directed by Jose Amador.

Attendees can also experience a series of multimedia art exhibits by Mauricio Robalino, Qin Tan, Gillian Nordlund, and Erika Ray; film screenings and popcorn by The Grand Cinema; hands-on art making with Tacoma Art Museum; and more. The event will include appetizers and a no-host bar.

This free public event is presented by the Tacoma Arts Commission and Spaceworks Tacoma, hosted by Tacoma Musical Playhouse, and sponsored by Northwest Stage and The Grand Cinema. Tacoma Arts Month premier sponsors are Click! Cable TV and The Greater Tacoma Community Foundation.

Media sponsors include KNKX, Northwest Public Radio, ParentMap, Sounds Fun Mom, South Sound magazine, Tacoma Weekly and Weekly Volcano.

– Tacoma Arts Commission