End2End Gallery Spotlights Tacoma’s Street Art Scene

End2End Gallery is a new contemporary art gallery focusing on street art located in downtown Tacoma on Pacific Ave. roughly between Old City Hall and Fireman’s Park, next to the Orange Door.

In addition to being a gallery showcase, End2End also sells a variety of art supplies.

In addition to being a gallery showcase, End2End also sells a variety of art supplies.

This cutting edge gallery has been open in one of the city’s most historic and heavily-tagged neighborhoods for the last six months.

Not only a place for showcasing art, the gallery also sells a wide variety of spray painting supplies. The gallery’s director, Eric (who only gives out his first name, even on his business cards), says the neighbors were initially nervous about the idea of having a spray paint store embedded in the neighborhood, but he now feels more acceptance and respect. Eric even volunteers to clean up illegal graffiti.

This Jeremy Gregory mural currently adorns the wall and might be covered up for the next show.

This Jeremy Gregory mural currently adorns the wall and might be covered up for the next show.

The current exhibition on display at End2End features art by Jeremy Gregory, artist of several murals around Tacoma, local Instagram hero, and SOTA educator. Since opening, the gallery has impressively hosted a new opening every six weeks and they try to correspond openings with Tacoma’s Third Thursday festivities.

Paint cans and trains: a match made in heaven.

Paint cans and trains: a match made in heaven.

Eric hails from the Los Angeles area and now lives in South Hill. He likes the downtown Tacoma neighborhood for his business, but appreciates having a yard at his South Hill home. The adjustment to the Northwest hasn’t been too difficult and Eric definitely doesn’t miss L.A.’s congestion.

Eric took me through Gregory’s installation which features many of his now signature puppets.. The show evolves, changing as pieces sell or are recovered by Gregory to use in different projects, like the puppet adventures featured on his Instagram page. There’s also a massive wall-spanning mural by Gregory on display, a kind of sister to Gregory’s new mural installation on the corner of Market and South 11th. As Eric showed it off to me he told me he liked the representative art but when it comes to street art, “I tend to like letters.”

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When asked about the other artists’ works on display, Eric rattled off a few names, “Oh that’s my buddy… but I don’t think he wants people knowing his real name… and I think he has a new name but I forgot it…” Artists will use different names for different occasions, some of the more prolific street artists also have their works in other galleries around town under a different name.

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End2End Gallery is two blocks east of the Graffiti Garages and there’s somewhat of a relationship between the gallery and the public artists that paint there every Sunday. Young garage artists bursting with ideas have access End2End for supplies and inspiration to make their work better.

Graffiti Garage artists still operate under a not-so-official capacity and aren’t too keen on getting their photos taken or giving information to volunteer reporters, but the artists are very open to individuals or aspiring artists. I stopped by the garages on my way to the gallery and noticed an artist giving tips on linework to eagerly listening young students, sketching examples on a freshly-painted mural.

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When asked about other big spots to check out graffiti in Tacoma, Eric suggested the Underworld, which he said was located near the Tacoma Dome by the railroad. “Best graffiti in Tacoma”, Eric boasted. He said big artists come to the city to leave their mark there.

Unlike the Graffiti Garages, work created at the Underworld lasts longer before getting covered up with new paint or disrespectful tagging. Eric says Tacoma is a great place for street artists–especially the skilled ones that don’t like to climb gates–thanks to its railroad tracks, tunnels, bridges, abandoned trains, and public support for the arts that enables artists to work on public murals like those that have been a part of the Tacoma Murals Project.

Wide shot of the studio, which includes a booth looking over the main area.

Wide shot of the studio, which includes a booth looking over the main area.

End2End offers something unique in Tacoma that is also uniquely Tacoma. A foundation built on mutual respect and tolerance yet also inherently subversive. Artists that gain inspiration and materials from this gallery are spreading their works all over the city and beyond as photographers capture their work and share it online.

It’s interesting to think that Tacoma has this dichotomy where street art is sponsored by the city in one place and antagonized in others. Meanwhile, the artists themselves and the people passing by each have their own opinion. It’s a culture that creates a public art gallery director that passes out a business card which only lists his first name.

Keep an eye on End2End Gallery’s Facebook page for updates on the next exhibition, which will likely be announced shortly.

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