Tacoma Artists Collective seeks to revitalize 100th Monkey gatherings

The Tacoma Artists’s Collective is set to revive the 100th Monkey art gatherings that once brought vitality to Tacoma’s arts community. Poster courtesy of Tacoma Artists’ Collective

There was a time when the 100th Monkey gatherings were a big deal in the Tacoma arts community. Maybe they’re on the way to a revival. They were held at frequent intervals and a given Tacoma artist was named as “the next monkey” and would have to produce a monkey “tile” to sell at the next event. I’m sure that that there are folks out there with a nice little collection of these mementos.

Tacoma art’s elder statesman Lynn Di Nino instituted the gatherings shortly after she moved to Tacoma from Seattle when the dot-com bubble, at the end of the 1990s, was pricing many artists out of Seattle. Initially, the monkey parties were well attended and resulted in a positive fermentation that helped produce arts events like the Urban Arts Fest, Art Under the Trees and the Glass Roots Festival. Eventually, the gatherings seemed to get so big and unwieldy (and the alcohol seemed to flow maybe too freely) that groups of artists began to cluster into cliques which did not seem to communicate with one another. 

The gatherings always took place at a different location like Old City Hall, The Working Waterfront Museum (now the Foss Waterway Seaport), The Pantages Theater, Theatre on the Square, The Speakeasy, Tacoma Art Museum and Freighthouse Square.

Scheduling for the Monkey parties became sporadic, but they continued to surface from time to time under the aegis of the Tacoma Arts Group (now defunct).

Now a new group, the Tacoma Artists Collective, is bringing the 100th Monkey gatherings back to being a regular event, albeit just twice a year, once in the Spring and once in the fall. The spring gathering takes place Friday, May 11, 8 p.m. at 1120 Pacific Ave., Tacoma.

According to the group: “100th monkey has been a Tacoma artistic event for years and while it has been in stasis in recent times, its resurgence has been slowing but surely brooding. The human aspect of creation has been within us all since the dawn of our existence and will be with us far into the future. Traditionally 100th monkey has been a celebration of an individual artist surrounded by festivities and chatter. This concept will remain intact, but to it we will add purpose to the event. A thought. A concept. A topic that transcends human differences. Things that affect us all and that we all can relate to.  The theme will change with each event, but always address human issues.”

The theme selected for the May 11 event is “the human condition.” At the event, guests can expect to encounter a collection of artistic works that ask and answer the question “What does it mean to be human.” Our own individual interpretation of our world defines how we react to it. Come experience visual artwork, live audio performances and moving poetry. In keeping with tradition, an artist is still selected to make 100 small works of art, but they are now given away on a first come first serve basis.

The Tacoma Artists Collective is a group of active local artists based in Tacoma, who are dedicated to extending and enriching the reach of the arts within the city. 

For more on the 100th Monkey gathering visit www.facebook.com/Tacoma100thMonkey.

For more on the Tacoma Artists Collective visit www.tacomaartistscollective.com.

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