2017, Our Brightest Moments – Year in Photos

2017 came and went leaving a trail of colorful art installations, new business openings, glowing sculpture, and creative community building experiences. Our stories intertwined into a tapestry of successes and learning moments as we trained over 20 new entrepreneurs through our Incubator program, commissioned 25+ art installations and projects, and brought patrons and artists together at our 2nd annual fundraiser, NEON. Take a look back at the imagination and talents of Tacoma residents who worked with us this year to make Tacoma more vibrant. Check out over 40 images in this slideshow:

Protect the Sacred

Live performances, speeches and songs entertained visitors on opening night of the first exhibition of the year at the 950 Gallery managed by Spaceworks. Protect the Sacred: Native Artists for Standing Rock featured art by local Native American Artists, and was curated by Asia Tail (Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma). (photo by Kris Crews)

Native Artists for Standing Rock

“Possibly They Spotted Me” - Christine Babic skinned a rabbit during a live performance at Protect the Sacred, a benefit exhibition for the Standing Rock Sioux’s Legal Defense Team, in January 2017. Proceeds from the exhibition curated by Asia Tail benefited DAPL protesters at Standing Rock. (photo by Kris Crews)

5 Stages

The creation of the mural on 11th and Market streets progressed in phases that correspond to the five stages of grief: For step 1) shock, the artists painted the wall a vivid red. For 2) anger and 3) acceptance, they put out a call to local writers requesting short poems written around those themes. For phases 4) action, and 5) gratitude, “We chose visual representations of real people living and working near the mural site who are constantly going above and beyond to do good work; reminding us to keep an open mind and see the world through a child’s eye; to love ourselves and share our harvest with others." - Saiyare Refaei (photo by Kris Crews)

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5 Stages

Poetry by Vanessa Williams in the mural painted by Saiyare Refaei and Tiffanny Hammonds. The wall “has been a turning point in Tacoma murals to uplift truth and possibilities. We wanted to continue that momentum,” said Refaei. (photo by Kris Crews)

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Scars & Stripes: A Cambodian American Experience

This exhibition was curated by Silong Chhun and featured work by contemporary Cambodian-American artists as well as photos and text from Khmer American: Naga Sheds Its Skin, an exhibition created by the Khmer American community and Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience. (photo by Kris Crews)

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Silong Chhun’s awareness has inspired him to tell the story of his people. His exhibition at 950 Gallery, Scars & Stripes, showed the story of Cambodian displacement from peace to genocide. He also shed light on the darkest tragedy in the history of Cambodia and the resilience of the Khmer people through his business Red Scarf Revolution (participant of Spaceworks Incubator since 2016.) (photo by Kris Crews)


A local legendary clay animation artist with a loyal following and a resume full of international shows finally got his first exhibition in Tacoma. UPLANDOS: Art of Bruce Bickford showed from May 18 – June 15th at 950 Gallery and the animator was present for both the opening and closing receptions. 

Read more about Bruce Bickford's Exhibition

Rad Leadership

Spaceworks Steering Committee members Ryan Spence and Amy McBride don't miss a chance to explore more art in Tacoma. This Artscape installation shows Banners on Parade, work by Gillian Nordlund. She created hand-sewn cloth works inspired by flag design, classic coat of arms styles, and embroidery techniques. (photo by Kris Crews)

Learn more about Spaceworks Steering Committee

Bright Lights

This glowing, temporary, art installation was created by RSVR at Court House Square and was exhibited during Spaceworks' Bring On NEON event in preparation for our annual fundraiser NEON. RSVR visual research is an exploratory design and fabrication practice focused on merging architecture, art, and industrial design. (photo by Kris Crews)


Principal designers of RSVR Ian Campbell and Hayley Buckbee (photo by Kris Crews)

Thanks to Our Volunteers

Activating their strengths together, the volunteers at our events help create a welcoming atmosphere for our guests, help the artists install brilliant creations, and make our community brighter. (photo by Kris Crews)

Growing Your Business

During our first Fish Tank event of the year, entrepreneurs in the Spring 2017 cohort of our training program showed off what they know and what they learned. Jeanne Serrano wants you to invest in long-lasting, live decor, because flowers die. Her business, Jade and Co., offers workshops for DIY succulent arrangements and more, and thanks to Spaceworks Incubator she has a solid business plan. (photo by Kris Crews)

Follow Jade & Co. on Facebook

Fish Tank

At our Spring 2017 Fish Tank event, program participants Erika and Noah Baird showed off their costume design skills. Costume models: Theresa Hopper, and Gritty City Sirens performers Ava D’Jor and Heather Hostility. (photo by Kris Crews)

Spring 2017 cohort of Spaceworks Incubator

Michael Burns, Anna Noel, Jeanne Serrano, Ericka Baird, Christina Felty, Ea Murphy, Hannah Gilmore, Zachary Marvick, Maria Jost, Kirsten Reynolds, Zach Bernard, Erica Johnson, Noah Baird, and LeShawn Gamble at the finale of Fish Tank, holding their graduation certificates made by Springtide Press. (photo by Kris Crews)

Gathering: Six Northwest Basketry Artists

Staked Out by Katherine Lewis gets installed on the wall of a Woolworth Window at the corner of 11th and Broadway.

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syayayəʔ ʔə tiiɫ x̌ʷiqʷadiʔ

“As a member of the Puyallup tribe I feel that art is a very important part of my culture. My goal is to bring back the art form to the southern Puget Sound, ” says artist Anthony Duenas. In this mural he is sharing an old story of Thunderbird and his fight with five brothers. After fighting all five brothers, he realizes that he would like them to be a part of his family and turns them into humans. (detail of a larger mural, photo by Kris Crews)

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10 Years of the Foundation of Art Award

This year Greater Tacoma Community Foundation honored ten Pierce County visual artists for the 10th Foundation of Art Award in recognition of the growth of the local arts community since the Award’s inception. This year’s awardees span a wide range of artistic mediums, from painting and sculpture, to fabric and letterpress. (photo by Kris Crews)

Read more about the exhibition and the winners

Private Prisons

Artist Pam Orazem with her piece "Geo Dream". Immigration: Hopes Realized, Dreams Derailed was a multimedia exhibition about immigration and detention on display at Spaceworks 950 Gallery. Curated by art critic Susan N. Platt and mural artist David Long, the exhibit addressed the urgent issue of immigration from multiple perspectives. (photo by Kris Crews)

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Migration Now!

Migration Now! is a portfolio of prints sponsored by Justseeds and CultureStrike. “Our purpose is to open up the conversation about immigration and to embrace the many ways in which immigrants are the essential fabric of our society,” said co-curator Susan Platt. (photo by Kris Crews)

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Japanese-American artist Henry Haneda contemplates an interactive work by Ricardo Gomez: Portrait of a Migrant, 2017, mixed media, reused materials (framed mirror, photos.) (photo by Kris Crews)

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Taking a Stand

David Long co-curated the immigration exhibit. During the opening reception he worked on the mural while interacting with gallery visitors. His final project was an enlargement of the recent hunger strike letter written by inmates at the nearby Northwest Detention Center. (photo by Kris Crews)

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Pete Goldlust Under the Microscope

Visitors on Broadway and 11th enjoy a vibrant and whimsical artwork by Eugene Oregon-based artist Pete Goldlust. “I strive to produce work that fosters a sense of wonder, joy, and play. I look to draw out these qualities, often dormant within the history of each site,” said the artist. (photo by Kris Crews)

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The Happy Sinners

On a warm and sunny June evening, Spaceworks held it's 2nd annual fundraiser NEON. Before general admission the VIP guests were entertained by local jazz duo The Happy Sinners. (photo by Scott Haydon)

Open For Business

Spaceworks worked with one of Tacoma's neon artists, Galen Turner,  who created 3 original neon signs for our annual auction. Not Closed plays on the classic storefront sign with a tongue in cheek flair. (photo by Scott Haydon)

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Thanks to Our Supporters

Mellannie Cunningham and Marguerite Martin enjoy their time at Spaceworks' 2017 artistic auction, NEON. Join us June 8, 2018 for our next glowing party! (photo by Scott Haydon)

See our recap blog for photos

Art Lives

Taking a cue from one of Spaceworks Incubator participants, Lettuce 253, we invited artists to paint live at NEON, which was a spectacle for our guests. Painters Jaison Rivera (pictured) and Katlyn Hubner raced against time to create complete paintings to be auctioned off at the NEON live auction. Thanks to the many talented individuals who donated their time and work to make NEON 2017 a huge success! (photo by Scott Haydon)

Celebrate Pride

The Tacoma Rainbow Center reached out to Spaceworks to host an interactive, artistic project for the community attending Tacoma Pride. We commissioned local artist Saiyare Refaei (3rd from the left) to create the design and she incorporated icons of LGBTQ activism and resistance like Frida Kahlo and Helen Zia. Throughout the day the community used markers to fill in the lines with messages of love and support in every color of the rainbow. In the end the mural accumulated over 750 signatures. (photo courtesy Saiyare Refaei)

"Love Wins!!!"

Messages like "You're valid!" and "Love yourself so you can love the world" filled the community-created mural at Tacoma Pride 2017. Original drawing by Saiyare Refaei

Connecting Through Relationships

Spaceworks hosted an informational booth at Ethnic Fest 2017 to spread the word about our arts programs and entrepreneur training, among others. We asked everyone who stopped by "How do you connect with creative community?" - "Through Relationships" responded Kayla Mathurin and Alicia Mathurin

See the other responses in our photo blog

South Sound Summit

At the inaugural South Sound Summit, Spaceworks hosted a photo booth asking local business leaders "What do you wish you knew before starting your business?" Spaceworks Manager Heather Joy also delivered a presentation about the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the South Sound.
Spaceworks staff also got to meet the keynote speaker, Randy Zuckerberg, the entrepreneur and inventor of Facebook Live. She spoke about being open to and trying a wide variety of ideas because you never know which creative spark will catch fire. Randy also shared the lesson she learned "that my best mentors are peers.
(photo courtesy of Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber)


This beautiful aerial shot by Kris Crews shows the area within Tacoma's Theater District that is the focus for a new culture and transportation development plan. Project partners who are leading the transformation reached out to Spacewokrs to do what we do best, provide creative opportunities for Tacoma residents to engage with our city and its development. 

Learn more about the project at www.tacomatheaterdistrict.com

Partnering with BIA

A glass-covered skybridge in downtown Tacoma brightened up with a brand new mural painted by Kristen Ramirez, public artist based out of Seattle. This project was produced in partnership between Spaceworks Tacoma and The Downtown BIA. The skybridge connects Broadway to the parking garage Park North Plaza. (photo by Scott Haydon)

Public Space for Public Use

Part of reimagining the area in the Transform project was to show many possible uses. During September's Third Thursday Theater District Art Walk, Spaceworks' Incubator participant Alchemy Skateboarding set up a temporary skate park in Theater Square inviting kids and those young at heart to practice tricks or learn new ones. (photo by Kris Crews)

Dance Break

The small park tucked between buildings on Commerce street near 11th was activated with musicians and break dancers. Justin Tamminga on the drums backed up DJ Dig One while the dancers showed off their moves during Theater District Art Walk in September. (photo by Scott Haydon)

See more of the Art Walk in our Facebook album


In this stunning moment captured by photographer Scott Haydon, The League dancers of Iconic Arts Complex show their passion for hip hop and dance performances during September's Theater District Art Walk. They exchanged the stage for the pavement on Theater Square. 

See more of the Art Aalk in our Facebook album

Juggling Act

Perry Petaccia demonstrated his juggling skills on a unicycle as part of a larger circus performance at Frost Park located at the corner of 9th and Pacific Avenue during the Theater District Art Walk. (photo by Scott Haydon)

See more of the Art Walk in our Facebook album

Music in the Street

Josiah French and The Americans  played a few of their songs at sun down in Frost Park during the Theater District Art Walk in September. (photo by Kris Crews)


October 2017 marked the 16th anniversary of Tacoma Arts Month. To help with the opening party, Kaleidoscope, Spaceworks provided additional work hands and brought in two Special Projects by artists Gillian Nordlund and Erica Ray. (photo by Kris Crews)

Tacoma Arts Month Party

Artist Erica Ray and her mom stand next to Ray's sculpture at Kaleidoscope. She created a series of hybrid mythical creatures that visually transported the audience into another world. (photo by Kris Crews)

Open Studios

Tacoma Studio Tour is a highly anticipated part of Arts Month. Over 70 artists participated this year inviting the Tacoma community to visit and get a behind the scenes look. Painter Jason Sobottka invited guests to visit his studio located in Spaceworks Coworking site, 1120 Downtown. (photo by Kris Crews)

Fall Fish Tank

Dominick Weems, co-founder of Healing Renaissance discusses his ideas with circus performers Perry Petaccia and Shannon Shintani, at Spaceworks Fish Tank event highlighting the fall cohort of Spaceworks Incubator. (photo by Kris Crews)

See more photos in Fish Tank Recap

Fish Tank

Catrina MacCalla, one of the Fall 2017 Incubator participants, showcased the lingerie designs available at her shop Love Letters Intimates. They carry original and licensed designs in many sizes in their shop located in downtown Tacoma. (photo by Kris Crews)

See more photos in Fish Tank Recap

Standing Together

Participants in each Incubator cohort grow together during their time in the training program. They make meaningful connections and find creative ways to collaborate. This cohort included the following entrepreneurs: Creative Colloquy with Jackie Casella and Christina Butcher, Frankly Cinematics with Jason Farris and Cooper Farris, Healing Renaissance with Paulette Brown and Dominick Weems, Iconic Arts Complex with Tiffany Sanders and Jimmy Shields, Starlight Media with Konika Clemons, Love Letters Intimates with Catrina MacCalla, Pod Works with Kayla Schroader, Whirr and Thrum with AJ Lindner-Michaelson, as well as Sarah Woodson and Stephen Gangl, Perry Petaccia and Shannon Shintani. (photo by Kris Crews)


The final art exhibit at Spaceworks 950 Gallery was a first-time combined exhibition of the works by Malayka and Tom Gormally. The artists showed 2D and 3D art that critiqued the current political zeitgeist and promoted discourse. (photo by Kris Crews)

View more in our Facebook album

Question Mark

Visitor at Spaceworks 950 Gallery gets a closer look at wood and LED sculpture with a glowing question mark embedded in the outline of the United States.  Question Mark by Tom Gormally 2017. (photo by Kris Crews)

View more in our Facebook album

Made in Tacoma

One of the neon signs that Galen Turner created for our annual fundraiser NEON this year, really spoke to the love in all our hearts for all things Tacoma. Together with artists and entrepreneurs we cultivate creative communities. (photo by Scott Haydon)