Creativity and community celebrated at Cloud Nine

// Artist Julian Pena again brings art to the masses, and vice-versa, at The Mix

The Mix was the place to be the night of Nov. 14 for what was a most unique, inspiring and thoroughly enjoyable evening of art and community. Evoking the hip and inventive vibe of Andy Warhol’s The Factory with its combination of visual art, dance, spoken word, live figure drawing, do-it-yourself painting and merchants selling their creative wares, Cloud Nine, as the event was called, was pure Tacoma in its inclusiveness and eclecticism. Cloud Nine was organized and presented by Tacoma artist Julian Pena, who has done other successful arts events including the monthly Art at the Mix. His efforts to support local artists of all types again inspired him to bring people together at Cloud Nine, which included dance performances by Barefoot Collective; a figure drawing session led by Tim Mansen of Tacoma Academy of Fine Art; vendors such as Heather Rowland of Dewy & Byrd Co. (jewelry designs/art), who also gave metalsmithing presentations to guests interested in jewelry making; Chris Moore's Ill Chemist Oils (essential oils and body care); and Tarot card readings by Tanita Ross-Cady. Activities like body painting, live art and community paintings and drawings went on throughout the event. “I feel like it was extremely successful,” Pena said. “The whole time there was good energy and that’s what I was looking for.”

Pena took a moment during the event to talk about one of his newest ventures The Cumulus Collective. While still in its very early stages, the collective is a community-focused group of local artists across all genres banding together to cross-promote in collaboration. Once underway, the collective will produce limited edition products and advertise them through an online storefront on Pena’s website A simple example would be for, say, a musician in the collective to release a CD of music with cover art by a graphic artist in the collective so that the work of both of them gets out there to the public. It’s all in a spirit to inspire, motivate and invigorate Tacoma’s thriving arts culture. “It’s not necessarily about making money; it’s promoting the artists, which is really hard to do sometimes,” Pena said.

Cloud Nine opened with a dance performance from Barefoot Collective. About 15 dancers from the collective attended the event to present five separate dances by a variety of choreographers and all with original music by Michael Hoover and Gary Lappier. Performances included “NAME” that was done in extreme slow motion (it took the dancers 25 minutes to move from one floor of the bar to the next) and an intense movement and spoken word piece inspired by Tai Chi. Pena introduced two artists whose work is on the walls of The Mix until the end of December. Andrei Vassiliev is a graduate of Stadium High School and studied arts, media and culture at University of Washington-Tacoma. For about the past year and a half the young artist has been focusing on taking his art career to the next level, and his paintings at The Mix represent a nice range of his skills. Influenced by classical cubism, expressionism, pop art and surrealism, Vassiliev combines all of these to give a modern touch to his mysterious paintings about American culture and about classic themes of original sin and evil. His portrait of Mephistopheles from “Faust” reflects Vassiliev’s interest in the German folklore legend, while “I shovedown ya throat” is a commentary on how corporate advertising and consumerism is forced on Americans at every turn. See many more of his works on his Facebook page. All of his paintings at The Mix are for sale and priced at a steal.

Artist Carrie Foster is showing her realistic drawn portraits of famous faces. Her rendering of Metallica’s James Hetfield is a striking view of his face racked in pain and pouring with sweat, as Foster drew this piece at the time when Hetfield was seriously burned in a pyrotechnics accident onstage. Like Vassiliev’s, Foster’s art is also for sale. In addition to figure drawings, Foster is also heavily into interpreting Celtic knot work in her own voice – a “twist on an old favorite,” as she cleverly put it. She and her husband Bob Jewell own a graphics and T-shirt printing company called Shroom Brothers, which features Tacoma-themed shirt designs that tastefully incorporate Foster’s Celtic knot art. Visit their page on Facebook and look for their booth at First Night in Tacoma this New Year’s Eve.


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