When Things Fall Apart

Back in the Before Times, we had a whole calendar of events and classes set up thru June. Show calls were written! People were working on class curricula! Everyone at TAH was getting excited for what we were gonna call “Treasure From Trash” weekend: a weekend-long event with workshops and space for upcycling your recycling into art. It was gonna be huge! 

But then, as they do, things fell apart. When the tide turned and we had to start taking the pandemic seriously, (about a week ahead of Washington state), I made an executive decision to start cancelling things, and closing our gallery to the public for the time being. The events committee met virtually decided “hey, if nothing else, we’ll be more accessible” and we got to work on figuring out how to host classes and show off our community to people unable to make it into the studio for whatever reason. This project is still in process.

But something else happened, that has been a problem for a lot of people in the arts, not just at TAH. We, each in our own way, began grieving over what has occurred and what caused it. Sometimes grief means it’s hard to make things, or get your thoughts together, or even motivate yourself to do things in your normal routine. The world has been upended, and those who didn’t metaphorically fall off, have at least fallen down; even as many of us were down to start with. 

Everyone grieves differently. A lot of us “creative types” (and incidentally, I think EVERYONE is the creative type regardless of skill or ability), turn to new art projects in times of trouble. For a lot of us, art is what we do to accommodate our own existence. It’s medicine, it’s pleasure, it’s habit to be creative. But in a crisis, creative pursuit is sometimes disrupted by the fact that there is a crisis.

Some people get inspired to make a lot of art because if they stop being productive their ability to cope will evaporate so they will fall apart and may not be able to get their pieces back together. You want to create, and you feel like you’ll be ok as long as you just keep painting fish. (The fish part might just be me.)

Other folx are having a hard time even focusing long enough to think about creative pursuits because they’re in survival mode. Whether that’s emotionally, or because they need medical care they aren’t getting, or  because there are more pressing matters like housing and food; for a lot of people it’s a combination of these and many other factors. You want to create, but the world is in the way.

For some of y’all out there, it’s both. You’re both exhausted from surviving AND compelled to make work. It may be concurrent or alternating. You want to create so you start, but then the world gets in the way and you’re stuck.

I don’t doubt there are a myriad of other experiences, these are just the one’s I’m noticing in my peers who have been able to share. Rather than extensively categorize trauma responses, I want to validate yours and let you know however you’re processing the ongoing global catastrophe is ok (with the obvious exception that it’s not ok to take your fears and stress out on other people).

Things get disrupted.

Things get messed up.

Things fall apart.

Hopefully life goes on and there’s another time to try to get it right. Sometimes there isn’t and you have to think of how to keep going when it seems like everything is lost. But if we can keep going, stay alive just one more day, that’s one more day to make art.

Tidal Artist Haven is gonna keep going. We’re survivors, we adapt, we course-correct, and we stick together. After a period of adjustment, we’ll be able to bring you classes and workshops, and art shows, and artist interviews, and stuff you can enjoy even if you can’t come into the gallery. Even if members and staff can’t go into the gallery. 

We started TAH not knowing what we were getting into, and we are mostly rolling along doing our best, learning as we go. It’s a process, and whatever happens we adapt. We use art to accommodate reality.

Keep doing your best everyone. Be on the look-out for more content from TAH, and eventually we’ll all be able to go out in public again.


Odyssey Below the Tides ~ Review

Jellyfish by Steven Miljavac (left), Mechanical Merkittens by Braden Duncan (right)

Odyssey Below the Tides is the 2nd group exhibition to go up at Tidal Artist Haven (which opened in January), and features nearly a dozen artists from around the Seattle area. The work on display ranges from depicting literal sea creatures like the graceful jellyfish of Steven Miljavac’s photography; to the terror possible in interacting with the wrong creatures, as in Angela Williams’ (Morbid Heart Design) work. All of which is balanced out by the vibrant colors of Larry Parker’s “Octopus for Lynn”.

Octopus for Lynn by Larry Parker (Left), Catch by Morbid Heart Design (Top Right), Kelp by Jessica Havens (Bottom Right)

Several of the pieces in this show include commentary on how poorly we treat our oceans, such as “10 Jihadi Dolphins” by RebelDog Studio which includes a placard next to it inviting viewers to search the piece for all the bits and bobs that are “in the ocean, but shouldn’t be”, according to painter Kree Arvanitas. Even with the seriousness of the subject depicted, Kree’s work maintains a sense of surreal playfulness at the same time.

10 Jihadi Dolphins by RebelDog Studio (Left), Octopi Hazmat Team by RebelDog Studio (Right)

Embrace of the surreal is a common theme among the pieces in this show. There are several merpeople in different situations, displaying the full range of merperson emotion from gracefully enjoying lunch with a guest in Jessica Havens’ painting “High Tea” (those who frequent Tidal Artist Haven may recognize this piece from the live-painting Jessica did at the Grand Opening); to the desire to do nothing more than scroll through her shellphone (looking at pictures of her dogfish) in Rachel Setzer’s “Ugh Merlennials”. The fantastical portion of the show also includes Braden Duncan’s “Mechanical Merkittens”, which capture reality with her photorealistic style and combines it with perfected surreality to demonstrate why Braden is one of the PNW’s favorite artists.

Amy Muse’s gourd purses (large dried gourds, painstakingly painted, decorated, and varnished), are unmistakably original for their use of materials and design aesthetic. “The Navigator” references the history of sea voyages, decorated with sea serpents, an astrolabe (a navigational tool), and embedded with the star-points of the constellation Orion. Amy’s work is well-complimented by the other sculpture entrants. “Oceans in Retrograde” from Washington artist Julie Yasny is a delicate felted wool piece embellished with thread and mother of pearl; and “Octy” by upcycling genius Amanda Drewniak, is an octopus made from recycled plastics, continuing the sub-theme of environmental stewardship in the show.

Odyssey Below the Tides will be open through mid-March with a closing reception on March 11th from 5-7pm*. Tidal Artist Haven’s gallery hours are Wednesday and Thursday 11AM-7PM, Friday and Saturday 12PM-8PM, and Sunday 1PM-5PM**.

*Due to health concerns gallery show closings/openings have been postponed, please check out FaceBook page for updates
**Due to health concerns our gallery hours are currently off-schedule. Please check our FaceBook page for daily updates or contact us for a private gallery viewing