Thinking about Public Art

From October 10,2014

Ever have one of those days when pieces of time and experiences go together even though you didn’t plan it that way. This morning I was reading passages from Patrick Modiano the French writer who was just awarded the Nobel prize for literature. Here’s a thought that seemed wonderful to me…
“I believe that the entrance halls of buildings still retain the echo of footprints of those who used to cross them and who have since vanished. Something continues to vibrate after they have gone, fading waves, but which can still be picked up if one listens carefully.”
And then I attended the dedication of the new Gerard Tsutakawa sculpture at UWT recalling the Japanese Language School that stood on Tacoma Avenue within the campus property. They played a beautiful and haunting recording made at the Rialto Theater by a former student singing the school song and then 88 year old Ted Tamaki took us back there in his unselfish recollections of a vanished time and place.
It was a morning like a movie with subtitles.

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This site is about the way history, in this case of a city and it's surrounds, is remembered or recorded in stories and small bits of memory. It's also about the way images and stories go together, how they inform and enrich each other and how we as thinking people fill in the content between a narrative and a visual document. So here is my city in time past, the way it looked and the people and events that create its character. For more than 20 years I have taught a 5 credit course on the History of Tacoma at the University of Washington Tacoma. With an average of 30 or 40 students a year, each doing a research paper as their primary focus for the course, I have benefited from many paths of inquiry and many researched and assembled stories. Here are some of them in the retelling along with the treasures of photographs and images in the collections of the Washington State Historical Society, Tacoma Public Library, University of Washington Digital Archives, Washington State Archives at the Office of the Secretary of State, Library of Congress, Washington State University, Alaska State Library, and many other archives, libraries and private collections.

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