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The end of the Monkeyshines cycle. Or is it?
Each year, around the Chinese New Year, something special happens in Tacoma. People search the streets, parks, and public art of the city looking for pieces of blown glass, marbles, ceramics, poetry, and other art.
It happens in a single night. Sometimes it happens over several nights. This last year several thousand pieces of art went out over about a week’s time.
People who know about it start to twitch after the New Year. The talk about it. They plan. They scheme. They strategize. Those who have been following this story for years hang on any word from Ms. Monkey to reveal secrets that could help them find one.
We met with Ms. Monkey last week in a corner booth of an iconic Tacoma bar. She talked about the last 12 years of hiding, hunting, finding, and magic. “I just love how people love it and people want to be a part of it. Some of the stories will make you cry."
Monkeyshines began twelve years ago. It was a project created by a handful of Tacoma artists wanting to bring something good into the world after a string of bad news. Approximately 200 pieces went out that year - hand blown glass balls made by approximately 20 glassblowers, each with a Monkey stamp.
That first year was the year of the monkey in 2004. Years of the rooster, dog, pig, rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, and horse followed. Monkeyshines 2015 saw thousands of art pieces from multiple artists, groups, and families celebrating the year of the ram. It was a huge year.
From the monkey to the ram is twelve years. The original artists all committed to doing the full lunar cycle. It’s done now. So now what? Will it continue? Costs have risen. The time commitment has grown.
Ms. Monkey shares her theory on the source of the magic, which she says goes beyond being one of the lucky ones who find a piece of hidden art: "The gift is the time hunting with your family. I really want to push everyone to think about their gift. What do you give? What do you create? Do you sing a song? How do you impact someone’s days?”
Ms. Monkey acknowledges the this project is now part of the story that is Tacoma. People count on it. "Tacoma goes to bed dreaming of Monkeyshines - like the easter bunny. You can believe in it.”
And with that, and after a long evening's conversation, we now know with confidence that there will be another twelve years. And, in the spirit of Monkeyshines, it will continue to grow every year. And you can help - start thinking what your gift can be...
Similar to last year, after several good conversations with Ms. Monkey, there is now a way for you to help make Monkeyshines happen and grow. There are two options:
1. You can donate any amount of money to the project. Every dollar makes art: DONATE HERE.
2. You can purchase a limited edition Monkey candle cup. The price is $100 and the money is intended to, again, make more art for this year's Monkeyshines. Pick up is either at Sonia's in Proctor, or Creative Forces in the Murano Hotel. They will both have inventory available for sale as well. You can BUY THE CUPS ONLINE and pick it up from one of these two shops or you can purchase it at the shop. The fine folks at the shops are just helping Ms. Monkey and not technically selling these, so please pay in cash or check if you're planning to do it in person.
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