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.

10 places to check out in downtown Tacoma

Dorky’s Bar Arcade

This is easily my favorite place in Tacoma. They have a number of vintage arcades to play for only a quarter which are surprisingly outnumbered by the selection of beers available. They also have a great lunch menu featuring amazing pizza and a delicious variety of sandwiches made with fresh ingredients and artisan bread. At lunch I like to take a short walk from campus to go there and try to beat the daily high score on the table-top Donkey Kong machine. When the games get tiresome I read one of the local zines they have available and watch Star Trek: The Next Generation or another childhood favorite show they usually have blasting on their TVs. At night they’re also a venue and have showcased some pretty great local bands. Their monthly chiptune night run by local chiptune-ist Tony Pineapple Pineapple has lured artists from as far away as Vancouver, BC.

The New Frontier Lounge

Hands down one of the best bar-restaurants in Tacoma. I like to tell friends it’s the most “Seattle-like” place you’ll find here in town. Lots of interesting local antiques and neon lights on display throughout and the barstaff is quite friendly and features amazing moustaches. The food is quite good, and they feature a cheap eats night with $1 tacos on Wednesdays. The live music certainly has an interesting flavor that you aren’t likely to hear anywhere else. There’s always something going on here.

The Deltan Club

Here in our lovely city you can find the biggest drag venue in the Pacific Northwest with a mighty fine dance floor that has played host to some amazing and unforgettable parties. The Deltan has a great resume featuring over half a dozen contestants from RuPaul’s Drag Race and many other well-known performers from abroad and local. Tacoma’s own burlesque troupe, The Gritty City Sirens recently had quite a successful show there which should lead to future appearances as well.

The Webster

I wasn’t sure if I should mention The Mix, Puget Sound Pizza, or the amazing Amocat Cafe so I thought I’d just list them all at once in the same slot! All three are located in the same beautiful building (where yours truly also resides) and good times are easily had at each. The Amocat is a wonderful one-man operation sure to give you the freshest cup of coffee you can find in our fun little town. The Mix is a great LGBTQIA–or just queer–bar that also hosts monthly community art events. Puget Sound Pizza has some the best slices you can get around here and easily the best karaoke.

UW Tacoma

Another tough call is how to talk about Anthem Coffee and Tea, The Swiss, Tahoma Tea & Co, The Rock, Metro Coffee… and the scores of other interesting little places that have sprung up around our gorgeous campus. Anthem, located across the street from the UW bookstore next to the state history museum and bridge of glass, offers an amazing atmosphere and an equally impressive cuppa joe. The Swiss has great sandwiches and amazing art on the walls, and is a huge venue perfect for the college and local crowd. Tahoma Tea & Co is a hidden treasure with amazing furniture and atmosphere located at the back of thrift store Urban Xchange. Did I say Puget Sound Pizza is the best slice in town? Because The Rock’s punk rock pizza is arguably equal in that status. Metro Coffee is a perfect place to study and when I’m too strung out on caffeine, I like to order their unique all-natural Jamaican ginger beer or try some of their freshly brewed local iced teas.

Graffiti Garages

A feature of Tacoma that comes at no charge and shouldn’t be missed. They’re located right next to the Spanish Steps, central to everything. Evidence that art can be colorful and meaningful, but still quite messy. For more information check out this feature in Post Defiance.

B2 Fine Art Gallery and Studio

An amazing gallery that, even though I lived right across the street, for the longest time I would just walk right past it. Last week I noticed their doors were right open so I sauntered in and found myself in one of the most amazing exhibits I’ve had the privilege to witness. So many amazing works of paint/fabric celebrating the 99th anniversary of the death of Harriet Tubman. Originally planned to end in April, but finally being dismantled to make way for the next show. They also host community events for children and to encourage creativity in local artists. Don’t let this place pass you by!

Modern Cottage Company

This amazing furniture store just moved from it’s location next to the Webster to Broadway near Tully’s and offers hand-crafted items perfect for any Tacoma home. Originally on a city-funded Spaceworks grant, they moved to a cheaper location for the time being to continue serving the public, so don’t miss out on this place after they move to their new location and follow them on Facebook to find out their new name!

Tacoma’s Antique Row

If you haven’t lost at least three days exploring this place you haven’t seen it all… and it’s constantly changing! This veritable mall of antiques offers three huge floors of local artifacts. Within you’ll find several businesses including a cafe, an art studio, a tea room, a candy shop, a wine shop, vintage clothing stores and curiosities like a huge model battleship and an authentic Egyptian sarcophagus.

King’s Books

Last but not least, Tacoma’s impressive independently-owned bookstore was my first stop when I moved to the area. Not only do they sport an “almost a city block”-sized collection of new and used books, they are host to a variety of interesting community events including several book clubs which you can find listed on their website.