Metro Parks Tacoma

  • Park Finder
  • Register

Current News

Metro Parks Tacoma joins in saluting Tacoma Arts Month: Park Board Notes October 2017

October 11, 2017

October is Tacoma Arts Month, a celebration of our city as a hub of creativity in all its forms.

Whether this is where you’ve discovered your muse or have simply been inspired by others, it’s a good time to recognize how Metro Parks Tacoma nurtures and appreciates the arts.

Art adds to our quality of life by creating thought and awareness of life all around us. Over the years, Metro Parks Tacoma has intensified its embrace of the arts as integral to our recreation programs, particularly for youth, by offering opportunities in dance, theater, music and the visual arts.

And, in 2014, Metro Parks made a commitment to public art. The One Percent for Art policy ensures that 1 percent of budgeted amounts for capital projects valued at $100,000 or more are designated for public art.

Our public art plan, adopted in 2016, commits Metro Parks to use public art to foster active lifestyles, promote appreciation and stewardship of nature and wildlife and build understanding of culture and heritage.

We also aim to showcase art outside traditional settings, contribute to the diversity and livelihood of the local art scene, make art accessible and visible throughout the city and create art that delights, intrigues, attracts visitors and broadens the public’s experience.

This year, our promise to fund public art is beginning to blossom and will be in full flower by summer 2018, with the opening of the Point Defiance Zoo’s new Pacific Seas Aquarium. The 35,000-square-foot aquarium, funded with the support of a $198 million bond issue approved by voters in 2014, will not only feature state-of-the-art exhibits of marine life, but also display related art works.

Each of the four planned pieces is envisioned as integral to the visitor experience. They are:

  • Three giant glass jellyfish, created by Seattle glass artist Kait Rhoads, to hang from the atrium
  • A school of metal fish, by California artist Gordon Huether, suspended from a ceiling
  • A floor installation, also created by Huether, that mimics the shimmer of light on water and guides visitors along a ramp
  • A mural depicting Puget Sound marine life, by Tacoma illustrator Maria Jost, a science teacher at the Science and Math Institute (SAMI).

In a related event, Rhoads will create some of the tubing for the her sculpture’s tentacles and publicly demonstrate her glass-making art from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Oct. 27 at the Museum of Glass, 1801 Dock St.

Also in 2018, visitors to Metro Parks’ new 11-acre peninsula park, on the breakwater peninsula that is home to the Tacoma Yacht Club, will have the opportunity to take in Alluvion. The installation by Portland artist Adam Kuby was inspired by the 562-foot ASARCO smokestack that for more than 100 years dominated the nearby skyline. The landmark stack was demolished in 1993 as part of a federal Superfund cleanup, still underway.

Alluvion features a 15-foot-tall, 2-foot-wide steel pipe anchored upright to the ground. It’s the apex of a 10,000-square-foot array, about the size of two basketball courts, but triangular in shape. Nine rows of broken pipe fan out from the tall upright stack. The shortest rows, closest to the upright, consist of the largest pieces; the longest rows, farthest out and at the base of the triangle, are made up of the tiniest.

In addition, the new Eastside Community Center, opening in 2018, will feature public art projects suggested by Tacoma artists Christopher Paul Jordan and Kenji Stoll. Tentative plans call for:

  • Purchase of art for public display
  • A public-art training program
  • Memorial artworks
  • A mural project involving youth
  • Community history exhibits
  • Outdoor sculpture


If you can’t wait until 2018 and want to see how Metro Parks’ commitment to public art is already playing out, go to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium to visit E.T., the walrus sculpture now standing at the entrance. The larger-than-life bronze, the work of Friday Harbor sculptor Matthew Gray Palmer, was modeled after the aquarium’s beloved walrus, who died in 2015. While private donors contributed most of the money to commission the statue, a portion of the funds came from One Percent for the Arts.

Our policy will continue to support public art well into the future. You can learn more about the projects underway at


Aaron Pointer is the clerk of the Metro Parks Tacoma Board of Commissioners. He first became a commissioner in April 2001 when he was appointed to fill a vacancy. In 2012, he served as president of the board. Currently, he serves as the board’s liaison to the Metro Parks Arts & Heritage Advisory Council.