Are you ready? October is Tacoma’s art month

By Morf Morford, Tacoma Daily Index

What moves those of genius, what inspires their work, is not new ideas, but their obsession with the idea that what has already been said is still not enough.– Eugene Delacroix

Art may not be the first thing most people think of when Tacoma comes up in conversation.

Tacoma, to put it mildly, is a gem with many faces. What we see, and what shines through, depends largely on our direct experience.

It is easy to summarize or categorize a town, or a genre of art or music, in a word or two. But communities, and categories of art, and even individuals, are vastly more complex, even contradictory than any one word, or phrase could capture.

The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.– Aristotle

As most residents of Tacoma know, the daily experience of living here is VERY different from common assumptions and stereotypes that might be taken as a given in many surrounding communities.

I would make the argument that Tacoma, (1. needs art more than other communities and (2. produces art unlike, and often with more pain and passion, than other communities.

Tacoma is the ultimate unpolished gem. Some see the potential, and some do not. Some see a glimmer, others see accumulated grime.

Like a work of art, or a person in process, no city is ever finished. A slogan or cliche that seeks to sum up any of us is never complete, and never final.

Art emerges from the unnoticed, often marginal corners of our communities. And our minds.

Most of us have a split-screen view of art; we tend to hold two opposite and entirely contradictory views of art; first, that is superfluous, an “extra” unnecessary expression or set of skills that belongs in elite collections or museums, and/or, art is the one near-eternal refuge where we find solace, companionship, encouragement and inspiration, and art is, in most cases, the one cultural creation that outlasts, by millennia, all others. Ancient empires, from Greece to Rome, and many others, may rise and fall, but it is their art that endures and, to a large degree, still appeals to modern eyes and ears.

Art in many cases, reaches for what is not yet fully formed or visible, and makes, or at least evokes, a larger view of what the rest of us may not see. Yet.

What could be a better condensation of life in Tacoma? Some of us see the nascent glimmerings of an emergence, others see clutter and chaos. Some of us see what is, while others see what is becoming.

Studio tours – October 14-15

To join, or at least take in an artistic tour of Tacoma’s creative side, you could start here –

One of the highlights of art month is the tour of artist studios. These tours allow an up close and personal encounter with artists at work in their native habitat. You can see and experience the artistic process and maybe purchase a freshly made, one-of-a-kind creation. Each studio, from every neighborhood, will host demonstrations or hands-on activities.

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.– Pablo Picasso

Art is for every one of us, not just for high-priced pretentious collectors. And, as every parent knows, every child is an artist. There is nothing “extra” about being creative – it is built into each one of us.

Art, from sculpture, to watercolors to “found” art, takes many different shapes, intents and attitudes. Art is inherently subjective, immediate and ephemeral. A piece of art that inspires some, may baffle, even offend, others.

Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing.– Georgia O’Keeffe

To make something known, understood or at least worthy of consideration and appreciation is, perhaps the unifying goal of all art – which does not mean that art is always intended to be “understood”:

The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery.– Francis Bacon

It is what it does to, and for us, that matters. Art, by some indefinable process, from many centuries ago still speaks to us.

Algorithms and glowing screens will never enthrall and speak to generation after generation the way a painting, song or any piece of art will.

Art is the proper task of life. The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.– Friedrich Nietzsche

And like every relationship, every neighborhood, maybe even every good conversation, art is never finished. It is just put down for a while.

Art is never finished, only abandoned.– Leonardo Da Vinci


And, for those whose favorite mode of art is music, don’t miss the opportunity to hear, see and maybe even join, the Tacoma Refugee Choir (TRC). The TRC welcomes all with a passion for song. Nothing except a love of music is required to join them.