On July 16-17, a tsunami of art and outdoor fun will hit Tacoma as Foss Waterway Seaport (705 Dock Street) hosts Tacoma Maritime Fest. Music, all-ages entertainment and visual arts will take center stage – including a 60ft. mural created on the Seaport dock by local artist, Daniel Alcyone. The Seaport is throwing an art reception on Thursday, July 14, 5-8pm for Alcyone and sculptor Steve Jensen, with a live performance by classical vocalist, Teresa Lin.
Alcyone, aka “The Green Flash”, achieved international recognition for his temporary, street-based art; some of it commissioned, some of it guerilla. His work employs approachable and unexpected materials to bring moments of vibrancy and mystery to public spaces that would otherwise be overlooked. His artwork has atracted a large following in the global street-art scene via social media, television coverage, and the books Seattle Street Art, volumes 2 & 3. We caught up with him as he was preparing for two days of “painting” on the waterfront.
Foss Waterway Seaport: Hi Daniel. You have been commissioned to create a mural the size of a gray whale for Maritime Fest. How did you come up with the idea of using duct tape as a medium?
Daniel Alcyone: About 6 years ago, I began getting really interested in street art. I loved the idea of using public spaces as a canvas and giving art to the community. I wanted to find a way to communicate and create in this way without doing any permanent damage, so I chose duct tape as my medium. It is durable enough to stick to most surfaces for a long time, but also can be removed easily. I did some installations on my own to test the idea and then recruited a group of other artists to join in the fun and create their own designs. The tape worked well for this type of campaign since it removes all traces of the individual artist’s hand and is completely anonymous. In time, this project spread around the globe and I received photos of tape installations others had done based on my original designs. Contributions came from across the US, and as far as Pakistan and Prague.
FWS: What kind of artwork will you be doing for the Seaport?
DA: My design for the Foss Waterway Seaport will be the most detailed installation I have ever done. The piece is titled, Roadmap of Creation, and depicts the ancient symbol of the Kabbalah, known as the “tree of life”. The glyph simultaneously represents two different concepts depending on the direction you are traveling through the tree [from the top down, or the bottom up]….The installation will be composed of two trees meeting at their tops. This provides an opportunity for the viewer to literally walk through the trees, metaphysically moving from dense physicality to refined spirituality, and back again.
FWS: Your art conveys complex ideas, but people can take delight in its sheer originality and the unexpected beauty of modest materials. How many feet of tape do you predict it will take to complete?
DA: I expect to use 750-1000ft. of various colored duct tape in this installation.
FWS: What are the best and worst aspects of working outside on generally rough surfaces?
DA: My favorite thing about working outdoors with rather rough surfaces is the completely unexpected reactions of people watching the installation. By using a humble material like duct tape to create art on sidewalks, viewers are inspired to interact with their environment in new and creative ways. I don’t see a “worst” aspect, but there can certainly be some unpredictability involved. Random “concerned citizens” have damaged or removed some of my installations in the past. I think they are afraid of what they don’t understand.
FWS: Are extreme temperatures a challenge?
DA: Tape won’t stick to wet surfaces, so weather is something to take into consideration. If it’s cold enough to be frosty it’s a no-go.
FWS: This isn’t your first tape mural; you’ve done several pieces around Tacoma including a series of designs along 10 city blocks of Pacific Avenue, the main drag downtown. What is the story behind that?
DA: That was such a fun project! I was contacted by Amy McBride, the Arts Administrator for the City of Tacoma, to be a part of the massive Pacific Avenue improvement project. She was familiar with my work and hired me to create some temporary art installations to show that there was still life and activity downtown while it was under construction. I ended up installing many designs over the course of 2 months.
FWS: Please tell us about your alter ego, The Green Flash.
DA: Ah, the elusive Green Flash! The lead artist on the improvement project, Elizabeth Conner, had a theme for the renovation that was based around the green flash phenomenon. Green flashes and green rays are optical phenomena that sometimes occur right after sunset or right before sunrise. When the conditions are right, a green spot is visible above the upper rim of the disk of the sun. The green appearance usually lasts for no more than a second or two.
I took this concept and ran with it. The Green Flash sounded like a perfect street art superhero, so I designed a costume around a bright green bodysuit that completely concealed my identity. This brought an element of performance to each installation. I received some pretty wild reactions from people as they saw a green alien guy drawing mysterious symbols all over the city in broad daylight.
FWS: You are a community organizer, a cross-disciplinary artist, a fine painter, and also a builder of objects. But you have another life as well…
DA: Yes, I am a constant, conscious creator and a modern mystic. I produce the inspirational Ecstatic Existence podcast with my wife, Rachel. We interview leaders in the fields of holistic health and spirituality from around the globe, and bring a real-world sensibility and sense of humor to these topics. I am also a yoga instructor, meditation teacher and spiritual guide. Visit my website to learn more about the multitude of services I provide.
FWS: Right after completing this mural you’re taking off for eastern Europe, taking your kids on a whirlwind version of “The Amazing Race” complete with plane tickets, surprise educational experiences and physical challenges along the route. How cool is that?
DA: My wife has really gone the extra mile on this trip! My daughters are fans of the show Amazing Race, so Rachel put together a wild scavenger hunt adventure across Eastern Europe themed around the show for them. We will be visiting Frankfurt, Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest in two weeks! The kids know we are going to Europe, but they don’t yet know any more than that. They will have to solve clues along the way to discover each new destination. We are really excited for this epic summer family vacation!
FWS: Maybe you will leave traces of art along the way – ? Happy travels, and we look forward to seeing The Roadmap of Creation at Tacoma Maritime Fest!
Enjoy an evening of art at the Seaport (705 Dock St.) on July 14, 5-8pm, featuring Alcyone, Seattle-based artist, Steve Jensen, and a live performance by classical vocalist, Teresa Lin. More information at http://www.fosswaterwayseaport.org. ~Lisa Kinoshita