A glimpse into a better world

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The art and music of Adam Szyndrowski

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Tacoma artist Adam Szyndrowski holds up a painting-on-glass of an octopus, a theme that has proven popular with Tacoma art collectors. Photos courtesy of Adam Szyndrowski

Many local artists and gallery owners will tell you that Tacoma is a hard place for artists to ply their trade. It is said that Tacomans are indifferent and tight fisted when it comes to buying original works of art. Maybe, however, it’s not that Tacomans don’t like art, it’s that Tacoma’s artists have not taken time to know their home town audience.

Tacoma artist Adam Szyndrowski hints that the latter is the case. When I visited his home studio recently, Szyndrowski’s inventory of paintings was down to three because all the rest had already been sold. “I’ve never had trouble selling art in Tacoma,” he said. He mentioned selling at venues like the Nearsighted Narwhal, Destiny City Comics and Tacoma Thrift & Consignment.

Szyndrowski’s paintings are done on vintage windows that he gets at architectural salvage stores, second-hand shops or obtains for free. They feature images and themes in sync with Tacoma’s maritime heritage. There are images of sailing ships, sea captains, orcas and jellyfish. The octopus theme seems to be particularly popular, Szyndrowski observed. Other paintings are pop art renditions of Tacoma icons like the Frisco Freeze sign, a Rainier beer can and the “Sonics Guy.”

Originally from the San Francisco Bay area, Szyndrowski asserts that Tacoma is a place rich in sources of inspiration. It may take an outsider to point out our good fortune in living in such a unique city, rich in visual beauty and imbued with a cocky, can-do attitude. The phrase “Tacoma pride” is an artistic guide-star for Szyndrowski.

Szyndrowski has been making art since 1998, having attended art school in Los Angeles. He has done everything from making VHS skateboard videos and making street art to illustrating children’s books. He is currently at work on a children’s book called “Adventure Chicken” in which a chicken travels to all 50 states. (There are a few laying hens in Szyndrowski’s yard.)

Like San Francisco, Tacoma is filled with old Victorian windows, which serve as surfaces for Szyndrowski’s paintings. Old windows come ready framed, possess a unique quality and fit with an upcycling ethic.

Szyndrowski is also a musician, involved with a group called Funny Face House. He sings and plays guitar. Mallery Petty plays bass and Daniel Cohn plays drums. The house, which Szyndrowski shares with Petty (an artist in her own right), is living space, music venue and recording studio all in one. It is a place that has attracted artists, comedians and musicians from England, Scotland and the cities of the Eastern Seaboard. At funnyfacehouse.bandcamp.com, you can listen to albums “Gritty City” and “Is Real.”

Szyndrowski’s various enterprises are about community. In his art, he celebrates home town pride and his endeavors are in large part meant to spread creativity and inspiration. Imagination is a resource that we possess in abundance. Everyone should feel free to tap their own creativity and express themselves with what they have at hand. The act of creative self-expression is not a business; it is part of being a well-rounded human being. Szyndrowski endeavors to point out this fact that seems obvious, yet is so often forgotten.

Take pride in your community and live a life steeped in art. That is a path to a better, authentic world that people like Szyndrowski are striving to build.

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