Spring 2010


Community Events: Born To Be Wild
Community Events: Tacoma Art Museum’s Bollywood Gala
Artist Spotlight: Susan Russell Hall


Pacific Grill

Design & Style

Fashion Faves
Olympia Artisan Chic
Magnetic Appeal

Olympia Artisan Chic

As warmer weather approaches, checking out local artisans takes center stage. We explore artisans from Olympia, their craftsmanship and how design has the power to lift an impoverished community via local trade.

Our first spotlight belongs to Gina Vitale Syrja of Fair Portia. Her pieces are modern heirlooms meant to reveal individual expression through adornment. She uses fine materials such as sterling silver mesh, organza, fine wire and Swarovski crystals to create abstract forms inspired by nature. The pieces look delicate and supple but are designed to be sturdy and durable enough to be passed on to future generations.

Next, we move the spotlight to shine on local artist Jenny Macc. Jenny has been knitting every day for over 20 years and specializes in knitted accessories and other items such as jersey skirts, shrugs and tops. She has also been creating and selling patterns for other artists who share her passion to knit. “I strive to make the pattern so people can really get a quality project, and the feedback on my patterns is that they’ve turned out really well.”

Jenny’s design process involves constantly looking for new ideas in high fashion and then finding a way to bridge the gap from haute couture to ready to wear. “I want things to be really practical and easy to wear. I am careful that the materials I use are durable so that the individual can wear them every day. I use really high quality materials like alpaca, bamboo, cashmere, and wool. The fun comes in pulling out the fabrics or the yarns, matching colors, each day is something new. And then it’s the finishing details that make the item stand out.”

Last, but by no means least, we turn our sights to fair-trade advocate Beth Provo. Ms. Provo may call Olympia her home, but much of the impact of her work is a world away in Mumbai, India. Although Beth was a social justice activist focusing on Africa, the setting of the 2004 World Social Forum in Southeast Asia enveloped her in the exotic and ancient culture of India. After meeting representatives from the Mumbai Women’s Cooperative at the Forum, Beth formulated the goal of creating fair trade clothes that are well-crafted and beautiful, while also helping to improve the lives of poor women in Mumbai. “I wanted to wear fair trade clothing and I heard a lot of people complaining about not finding fair trade clothes that fit well and looked elegant.” So she partnered with the co-op and started the company Marigold Fair Trade.

We are amazed by the abundance of talent in Olympia, and believe that the Olympia artisian community has much to be discovered. Local designers create fashions that are chic and make amazing gifts for others or yourself.

Fair Portia – www.fairportiajewelry.com
Jenny Mack – www.jmaccknit.etsy.com
Marigold Fair Trading – www.marigoldfairtradeclothing.com

Cassie Welliver

Fashion Faves

Suffice it to say, I have a thing for… things. If springtime is the season of love, then I guess I’m pretty sprung. And it’s not just a crush. I’m in love with fashion accessories.

Once February flees the style scene, I want to cast off this wooly winter scarf and kick my beat-up rain boots to the curb. Give me sassy shawls and bright baubles. Sashay me down the streets in strappy sandals. Swing print-pretty purses from my shoulder. Jazz up my jewelry and dish up fresh décor details for my home.

I’m in love with unique accessories that stand apart from the crowd but can still turn a roomful of heads when I wear them. I choose handmade over mass-produced. I buy local but act global. I prefer artisan to automatic. I crave quality over quantity. So I’ve got a list here of all my locally designed fashion favorites. You won’t want to miss a single dangle or bangle to fall in love with this spring!

Tiffanie Peters Jewelry, Olympia

New American Design, Tacoma
www.greenbelts.etsy.com | 253.297.5560

Annette B. Boutique, Tacoma
www.annetteb.com | 253.761.0984

Creative Forces by Carolyn, Fircrest
www.creativeforcesbycarolyn.com | 253.566.0818

Linda Danforth Designs, Tacoma
www.lindadanforthdesigns.com | 253.756.5544

Vintage Creations, Des Moines
www.vintagecreation.com | 206.550.6664

Art Process Studio & Gallery, Tacoma
www.artprocessstudio.com | 253.307.9680

Vinosus® Jewelry, Tacoma
www.vinosus.com | 206.898.1542

Organik, retailed at Envy, Tacoma

Tammy Robackr


1924 Pacific Ave, Tacoma

Nothing takes the chill out of the evening air quite like the smell of ginger, garlic, basil and curry. I walked into Indochine with my dinner companion and we were greeted by a friendly gentleman. The aroma of decidedly exotic spices tempted our taste buds and teased our empty bellies. We were led to our table, passing a scrumptious case of house-made gelato, which I vowed to keep in mind for later. With menus seamlessly placed in our hands, we began to peruse the vast offerings underneath the warm amber light.

The beverage menu presented an array of wine, signature cocktails, martinis and non-alcoholic beverages. We settled on a Lychee Martini and a Thai Kiss. The Lychee Martini was expectedly sweet and tropical infused with a slightly floral note from the whole lychee fruit resting at the bottom of the glass. The Thai Kiss, by contrast, was the creamy, grown-up version of a traditional Thai coffee. Both drinks were beautifully presented with a single orchid balanced on the rim of each glass. They were perfect accompaniments as we gazed at the peaceful fountain and pool at the center of the main dining room. The effect was lovely, offering a sense of privacy in a dining room nearly full of dining couples, friends and families.

Before we finished our cocktails, our appetizers arrived: Firecracker Fried Spring Rolls and Curry Vegetable Empanada Puffs. The spring rolls arrived hot and were delightfully spicy, crisp and incredibly meaty. Chili aioli and a sweet chili sauce were offered on the side for dipping, but the spiciness of the rolls stood alone, and the sauce is only necessary if you prefer a more supple bite. The empanadas were heavenly clouds of aromatic vegetables wrapped in puff pastry. A true delight!

We could have stopped there, satiated by our cocktails and the generously portioned appetizers; however, the extensive menu piqued our curiosities. The menu categories included soups, noodles, salad, curries and more, so we turned to our knowledgeable waitress for recommendations, deciding on Three Flavor Wild Salmon Steak and Gang Curry. The salmon, atop a bed of stir-fried vegetables, was colorfully adorned with a slightly sweet and spicy sauce, basil, toasted almonds and black and white sesame seeds. The plate could easily be shared between two people, as was the case with the classic red coconut curry, which I paired with tofu.

Dessert was not to be missed. We tried the Mango Sticky Rice, which, coated in coconut milk and sprinkled with sesame seeds, was the perfect balance of savory and sweet. We then tasted the creamy, smooth-as-silk, pleasantly tart orange-cranberry gelato. The dessert selection was a gentle end to our lavish meal.

I say with confidence (and a satisfied belly) that diners can expect bold flavors and ambiance that is unmistakably rich and tantalizing at Indochine in downtown Tacoma.

Libby Clow

Artist Spotlight: Susan Russell Hall

What brings Susan Russell Hall’s work to life beyond it’s apparent beauty is the artist herself. She weaves stories of how nature reflects the patterns of our lives; time spent gazing at her work and hearing her stories inspires the viewer and moves the spirit.

Susan Russell Hall comes from a long-line of artisans. When asked about her lineage she explains “Her mother was an artist, as well as her grandmother who studied sumi painting under Chiura Obata. My great grandfather studied at the Ashcan School in New York with American treasures like Robert Henri, William Glackens and John Sloan. They were capturing the real lives of immigrants and children.”

Susan’s resume indicates that her first solo show was in 1977 at the University of Washington’s Women’s Cultural Center. However, her mom will attest that her first show was at age five when paintings hung along their fence in the front yard. Pieces sold for five cents to a quarter, and she will tell you it sold out. Her work can now be found at the Gordon Woodside/Brash Gallery in Seattle. To view this artist’s work, visit www.susanrussellhall.com.

What makes your art process unique?
The encaustic process is an ancient technique devised by Greek artists in the 5th century B.C. It is accomplished by laboriously applying multiple layers of wax, pigment, and heat. Numerous hours are spent in the preparations of the panel prior to any painting of an image.

What has been your biggest accomplishment?
I have basically had two separate careers: one as an encaustic artist and one as a medical illustrator. It was a great honor this year to be selected as one of 40 artists to have work included in Encaustic Works 2009, the seventh International Encaustics Biennial in New York. After working as a medical illustrator for 18 years, my husband, Dale, and I moved to Tacoma to help start the Pediatric Cardiac Surgery Program in 1998 at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital. Since then, I have documented over 6500 different surgeries on individual patients.

What do you hope the viewer gains from the experience of your work?
A place of reflection. If quiet contemplation can take place then usually the answers will come to our questions. Often we just need to be allowed the time. To slow down is a human need we need to honor.

What is the biggest challenge you have overcome?
I try to approach challenges with determination, hard work and a sense of humor. I approach each day with a decision to make it a good one to keep on moving forward and progressing in my work. Intense times of loss and grief are part of life. However my artwork has always been a way of processing and working through difficult times. It is amazing to look back and see what has played out in my paintings.

What is the most memorable compliment you have ever received?
After seeing one of our patients long after his surgery, he showed me a tattoo of a heart on his leg. This heart was not of the Valentine sort, but the picture of his actual heart I had drawn during his surgery when he was a young boy. As an adult he now has a young son of his own.

What is your favorite thing to do beyond your art?
My number one thing to do is be with my friends and family. Beyond that, I love running and working out daily, as well as going for hikes and exploring. I also love traveling and good food.

What inspires your sense of style?
Nature has always been an integral part of my painting, but instead of painting “from” nature I try to paint through nature. My goal is to capture the delicate balance and connections of all things.

Why is creativity important in your process?
Isn’t the process all about creativity? Just problem solving through the process creativity becomes a natural part of it. I don’t know how you’d move ahead if you didn’t have that creative process.

Leah Grout

Community Events: Tacoma Art Museum’s Bollywood Gala

The Tacoma Art Museum Bollywood Gala 2009 was held on October 17 at Hotel Murano. More than 300 guests attended. Guests were treated to a fun and vibrant evening celebrating the magic and romance of Indian cinema, with a variety of Bollywood videos and music playing throughout the event. Over 30 artists displayed items at an art sale for guests to purchase, with 50% of the proceeds benefiting Tacoma Art Museum. MLK ballet performed visually stunning Indian dances. At the close of the program and live auction, the award-winning Kim Archer Band performed and guests danced until midnight. Net revenue from the event was $140,000. Proceeds support Tacoma Art Museum education programs.

Community Events: Born to be Wild

More than 400 people attended the 7th annual Born to be Wild dinner and auction at the Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound. Highlighting the evening was a performance from Goldy McJohn and the Steppenwolf experience. Goldy was the original keyboard player with the 70’s hit band Steppenwolf. The band was on hand to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the song Born to be Wild. Forty-five live items were auctioned including an all inclusive VIP NASCAR trip to the 2010 US Open at Pebble Beach. The Harley motorcycle themed event raised $315,000 for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County.