New installations open in Woolworth Windows

Seattle based architects and artists Scott Blakemore and Jeff McCord have constructed an installation called “2139:47” in one of the Woolworth Windows display cases. The installation is a musing of the timespan of winter. Photos courtesy of artist

Spaceworks’ latest round of street-side art displays — part of the Artscapes program — debuted at First Night Tacoma-Pierce County on New Year’s Eve.

Featured in the old Woolworth storefront windows (corner of 11th and Broadway) is an installation called “2139:47,” the duration of winter represented in hours and minutes.

The installation is the brainchild of Scott Blakemore and Jeff McCord, colleagues at Seattle’s ZGF (Zimmer Gunsul Frasca), who are architects by day and artists in their spare time (they say architecture inspires their art, and vice versa). After meeting in graduate school at University of Texas at Austin’s School of Architecture, the two formed a Seattle-based partnership called Split Shot Collaborative.

Artists’ statement:   

Winter weighs heavy on the collective consciousness of the Pacific Northwest. Its approach brings a leaden darkness — sudden, insistent, brutish. “2139:47” represents an embrace of the artificial, an anemic attempt to replace what is lost for a season via a communion of the mundane: frames, fabric, industrial lighting.

The installation will be on display through March.

Other Woolworth window installations are also in place. One, for example, is bursting with the vision that students of the Seabury School (pre-k through 8th grade) have for the future of the Tacoma Theater District. Think of fantastical, futuristic cities made of cardboard and tin foil.

In Woolworth Windows #3, at 11th and Broadway, you can view Qin Tan’s “Rhythm Formation.” In this series, Qin Tan paints abstract structures and formations that channel energy from memories and environments. She captures the force of external sights and experiences in the form of rhythm to cultivate a spiritually visceral portrait. It is through this rhythm that she seeks to weave her inspirations into an imaginary architecture representative of the instinctual, unrehearsed quality of her creative process that is centered around discovery rather than preconception. Her paintings fuse elemental shapes, linguistic scribbles, and simple gestural marks together to disrupt the abstract space with different variations of cadence and movement. These components interact in an elusive yet active manner to conceive not so much an image, but rather an entity, that exhibits a delicate intensity. By adjusting the speed, pressure, and inclination of her brush, she imbues each stroke with its own distinct spirit; a stroke extending down and to the right expresses release, while a stroke lifting upwards invokes a sense of crescendo. The rhythm formation reaches a conclusion when the spirit embodied by the entity is balanced in harmony and has been fully realized. For more on Qin Tan visit

Woolworth Window #2 features Michael Dinning’s “Neighborhood.” Dinning asserts, “Our neighborhoods are filled with secrets, and often strife, but in the end there is a beat of life, a rhythm of existence, that keeps it all compelling, intriguing and filled with light. This is a light of life which illuminates the world around, and glows within us all. More than anything, ‘Neighborhood’ is my homage to this light, which I keep returning to, constantly entrancing, perpetually present and a never-ending source of energy and joy.”

Meanwhile, in the Pantages Theater display cases, at 9th and Commerce, one may encounter Lisa Kinoshita’s “The Ministry of Love,” an installation based on George Orwell’s dystopian novel, “1984.” Orwell’s nightmare vision of the future describes with frightening precision a contemporary world where “alternative facts” prevail, and personal agency is subsumed. The novel’s protagonist, Winston Smith, performs the dull job of rewriting newspaper stories to conform to the government version of a prospering nation that is perpetually at war. Smith’s every move is under constant technological surveillance, as he desperately seeks a way to truth, meaning and the experience of love.

“Newspeak,” “doublethink,” “Big Brother is Watching You” — all are words and phrases that come from “1984.” It’s easy to imagine these slogans placed on billboards and slipped into television ads today. Orwell, with his gimlet clarity and deep, lurching compassion, offers a response to the culture of fake news, and the brutal ruse of the superpower.

Through Spaceworks’ Artscapes program, artists of all abilities create murals, installations and exhibits that bring cultural vibrancy and economic strength to our city. When artists are provided the opportunity to display in public, they push their work to the next level, and inspire the community.

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