Tag Archives: Lisa Fruichantie

Come to NEON to Build a Brighter Tacoma

2 Jun

spaceworks neon 2016 PR

On June 10th, 2017, Spaceworks will be hosting its annual fundraiser NEON, offering an opportunity to dress up, and enjoy a party of colors and creativity. Live art and entertainment will fill the evening at Tin Can Alley while attendees win local art and small business experiences in auctions, raffles, and games.

Spaceworks Tacoma invites you to

NEON: Spaceworks Annual Fundraiser
June 10th, 2017, 6PM (5PM – VIP Happy Hour)

Tickets: $40 general admission or $125 VIP (couples’ discount available)
Please join us in Creative Cocktail Attire pinterest icon


Tin Can Alley
2620 E G St, Tacoma, WA 98421
Event Contact: Kate Monthy 253.682.1741 x102

“Spaceworks is an innovative program that is helping to build up the creative and entrepreneurial landscape in our city,” says program manager Heather Joy. The program began in 2010 as a joint initiative of the City of Tacoma and the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber. She says that people still rave about last year’s event and that this year’s NEON will be even better.

Related Post: Why Neon? by Lisa Fruichantie

Spaceworks Neon 2016 1

Naomi and JP Strom-Avila enjoy the live auction under the neon lights made by Galen Turner at NEON 2016. Photo by Scott Haydon.

“This year NEON will be stepped up a notch in terms of performance,” says Joy. “For example, we booked a local band The Happy Sinners for VIP Happy Hour entertainment. But we also have a fun surprise in store. Our mystery musical guests will be a crowd favorite for sure as well as the drag queens selling raffle tickets!” Continue reading

Why Neon?

10 Jun

In order to throw a remarkable fundraiser, Spaceworks asked local event-planner-extraordinaire Lisa Fruichantie to be our event consultant. Lisa knows how to tell a story, and she knows how to throw a legendary party! The following paragraphs are Lisa’s remarks on how she came to realize that the art of neon can be a powerful metaphor for the impact of Spaceworks Tacoma.  


Downtown Tacoma on Pacific Ave. looking north – 1972


By Lisa Fruichantie, Spaceworks’ 2016 fundraiser consultant

In considering a theme for Spaceworks’ first major fundraiser, I was pondering ideas that would capture the creativity and transformation of our city, that would be a metaphor for vibrancy, and that would showcase all the amazing talent we have.

Having graduated from being an admirer and supporter of Spaceworks Tacoma, to be being an involved participant as a local artist, to consulting on their small private fundraiser in 2015 – lingering was the knowledge that their organization’s next step was to host a large public fundraiser to expand their fundraising efforts. The challenge was how to do so while still holding on to the integrity of highlighting the arts and artists first, while educating participants and donors of Spaceworks’ need to ask the community for support. There had to be a cool factor. Something deliciously enticing.

I admit it, I am an avid podcast listener. As a creative myself, I spend many hours alone listening to one podcast after another while I puzzle through my projects. Last December, I was in the middle of designing and constructing costumes for an upcoming dance performance for the series ‘Tacoma Spaces’. As I worked I began pondering the theme of Tacoma Spaces and reflected on the artistic renaissance our city has taken and how this transformation now surges with an injection of new energy.

At that moment I was listening to 99% invisible, by Roman Mars, based out of Oakland, California, the episode they were featuring was titled “Tube Benders” about the art of neon. Now, before I go into my lightbulb moment, I will preface this by saying that for years now I have preached to any who would listen about how in love with Oakland I am and how much the City of Tacoma could and should learn from a city that mirrors our beautiful struggle. Tacoma and Oakland are like twins raised in different households, I will spare you from the tangent many others have been subjected to over the years but at this very moment when I heard Roman Mars’ description of Oakland past and present, my imagination was joyriding between my time spent in Oakland and my memories of Tacoma in the 90’s and early 2000’s, prior to organizations like Spaceworks creating visible change to the energy and attraction of our downtown.

So there I was, surrounding in blankets of white stretch fabric, playing with light and ironing on fractal patterns of safety tape onto these costumes when I had my very own light bulb moment. I realized that a beautiful neon sign really was the most perfect metaphor for Spaceworks as an organization. Take a step back and remind yourself the way Tacoma used to look, empty streets, severely cracked sidewalks, smelly, signs in nearly every building and window pleadingly advertising available space. Downtown was someplace you passed through, it was not a destination. Now, picture an old neon sign completely unlit, a rough and raw industrial frame juxtaposed behind slender glass curvature of color. Once you power that sign it instantly turns to something otherworldly. Bright, vibrant, beautiful and that neon glow can be seen at a remarkable distance. That image of illumination truly captures Spaceworks slogan “Vacancy to Vitality”. Spaceworks curating our vacant storefronts, organizing art shows and entrepreneurs, Artscapes murals decorating our abandoned architecture brings the same instant visibility to our downtown core. Truly bringing light to dark places.

Envisioning neon as the theme to Spaceworks’ annual fundraiser, my mind was racing. Would this event attract artists I admired like Galen Turner, a local neon artist, to participate in this event? Would Spaceworks’ Creative Enterprise participants be commissioning neon signs for their businesses based on the success of this event? Could we grow this theme? What could future sub-themes become? Can we cultivate a love for the art of neon and actually use this as a tool to brighten our city? Then I had it – “NEON: Making Tacoma Brighter”. It married my ideas of what Spaceworks is and does, with the art of neon and provides that metaphor to grow on.

Some of you may be aware that neon has another history in this town that was not always supportive of the creative class. Little did I know, that once I pitched my ideas to Spaceworks that I was inadvertently digging up some serious longstanding history in our city between the art of neon and the City of Tacoma. I discovered that this event, NEON, is more than just Making Tacoma Brighter, the art of neon is truly seeing a new day in the City of Destiny. On that note, I invite you to join us on Saturday, June 11th to hear Amy McBride, founder of Spaceworks and Arts Administrator for the City of Tacoma, speak more about the history of neon, and Spaceworks Manager Heather Joy discuss the future of Spaceworks.

Bust out those day-glo socks and white trousers, 80’s attire highly encouraged. The party starts at 6pm, I’ll see you then!

For tickets & details visit


Smokin’ on the Water: 2012 Urban Art Festival

13 Apr

Tacomans festivate at Urban Art Festival 2011 on Thea Foss Waterway! Photo: Lisa Fruichantie

The Urban Art Festival Crew of 2012 has been busily crafting their eighth annual event, which they swear will be the biggest and BEST alt-stravaganza yet! On the weekend of June 30 to July 1, the festival will be jammin’ at Dock Street Park on Thea Foss Waterway.

Of course, it’s the talent and grit of our local artists who make this event happen, and applications are now open for those wishing to participate as a vendor or performer. To get the lowdown on this year’s festival, we chatted with event and volunteer coordinator, Lisa Fruichantie.

Cool as all get out: Lisa Fruichantie.

TACOMA ARTS: Hi, Lisa, pleased to meet you. Before we talk about the Urban Art Festival, please tell us a little about yourself. You are frequently pegged as one of the most creative, civic-minded – and busy – artists in Tacoma.
LISA FRUICHANTIE: My “careers” all tend to be quite circular and complimentary of one another. First and foremost, I work as the Senior Projectionist of the Grand Cinema. Through Transcendence Designs, I work as a fashion and costume designer, and a consultant. This work obviously goes hand in hand with my three other ventures, which are also stage- and costume-related: for Northwest Staging Sound and Design, I enjoy work as a stagehand, video and lighting technician, event planner and production manager. I also serve on the boards of two non-profits: MLK Ballet and Local Life.

UAF takin' it to the streets. Photo courtesy of Lisa Fruichantie.

TA: You are also the mom of three young boys, you create the freakin’ cool 253 heart hoodies, and you manage a burlesque troupe, the Gritty City Sirens. People will be forgiven for thinking you are an urban myth. And the Urban Art Festival (UAF)?
LF: My involvement with Urban Art Festival has been for seven of the eight years of its existence. I have worked predominantly as one of the festival planners, and as vendor coordinator of the performance and visual art.

TA: Please describe UAF for our readers, and what makes it different from other of Tacoma’s many street festivals.
LF: Urban Art Festival’s mission has always been to share, teach, and learn with our community through art and music and everything that encompasses. That mission in itself is very different from that of any consumer-driven, commercialized festivals you will attend throughout the year. Additionally, our goal has been to breathe life into areas of Tacoma often overlooked as not being “festival worthy” or “not ideal locations”. Continue reading

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