Exit133 is about Tacoma

Imagine Tacoma – Art Squats

With this Thursday being ‘The Last Art Walk of Summer,’ and continuing with a theme of ‘temporary use’ of vacant property within the urban center, Imagine Tacoma considers the application of a storefront art program to fill the plethora of vacant storefronts Downtown:

Pedestrian Oriented Streetscape
Assuming you have painted the pedestrian crosswalks, fixed the sidewalks, and organize the street trees/furniture so they augment, rather than impede, the use of the public right-of-way walking surface, what is there to engage the lowly pedestrian? Vacant storefronts with ‘Available’ or ‘For Lease’ signs? Why not fill them up temporarily with works of art? In essence, go vertical with the Frost Park Sidewalk Chalk Art! Other options could be installation of photos and/or super graphics about Tacoma’s history. Or maybe a community presentation storefront for the display of publicly funded projects that are currently in the pipeline (e.g. design plans for Urban Waters)? Large Wayfinding Signs?

Precedence
Many, many, many cities have developed similar programs to fill their storefronts with art on a temporary basis. Check out Redwood City, San Diego, and Santa Cruz (pdf) for just a sampling. Gosh Opie, even Sound Transit has gotten into the act on Broadway (ah that would be Seattle’s Broadway of course). With a set format for the storefront leasing agents, and publicity of the program, there could be more interested parties looking into the empty spaces than ever imagined with the current signage status quo.

So instead of storefronts sitting idle and vacant for prolonged periods of time, how about encouraging temporary art installations to ‘squat’ in the windows to at least give something for us downtown occupiers to ruminate about when we out and about between our pedestrian destinations.


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Comments

dawntown

Im down, like a happy clown…

Let’s get our art on folks, cause it’s our civic duty as artist, to begin the revitilization process.

September 18, 2008 at 10:39 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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crenshaw sepulveda

So why are all these places vacant?  You’d think with their proximity to the Russell company these businesses would be booming.

September 18, 2008 at 10:51 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Eric

Wow crazy, we just talked about this at the Upper Tacoma Business Assoc meeting this moring. The discussion was about a partnership with Bryant Elem doing our occupied storefront windows for the holiday season. So then Mr. Mac says, what about some of these vacant spaces, I’ll pay for it myself if I have too! So if you can help us implement your plan Mr. Boe please contact the Upper Tacoma Business Association. Surely Mr. Mac shouldn’t have to pay for this out of his own pocket.

September 18, 2008 at 11:02 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Douglas Tooley

I tried something a bit further along these lines once, actually creating a working Studio on a month to month basis.

Though the space was large and totally unused the negotiation fell through on what I believe were liability concerns.

Anyone up for an Artist’s liability fund!?

September 18, 2008 at 11:38 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Jesse

It’s too bad you couldn’t open up these dead stores to artists themselves.  They could create art in each location for a nominal fee (if any at all) while the site was vacant.  Art gallaries galore!  It would bring a lot of youth and artsy types to Tacoma just so they could be evicted over and over but have a place to create and show thier art.  It would jump start the art walks bigime and draw more interest in downtown until it was actually revitalized. 

But, your idea is great.  Maybe my building upon it is a bit too idealistic…

September 18, 2008 at 7:12 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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penelope

We’ve been trying to get the <span class=“caps”>BIA</span> to work with us, and get to the property owners to do this for ever! <span class=“caps”>SOTA</span> students among other local artists would offer up their work in a heart beat. In fact Chris Sharp did a piece for Showcase Tacoma dance stage that would be amazing in an empty storefront. All we need is a few building owners to take the plunge. Spaces with three year old awnings sure doesn’t say “vibrant” city! I just saw a great Neighborhood project in Portland with a variety of neighbors sharing their love manifesto about their hood. I’m on board if someone wants to move forward with this project!!!!!! Maybe the <span class=“caps”>BIA</span> marketing $$$ should help fund it? I’m a property owner and think that would be money well spent!

September 22, 2008 at 9:37 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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