Shortly after moving to my first Belltown studio upstairs from Consolidated Press at Bell Street and 1st Avenue, I landed my first art gig, designing and fabricating mascots for the Pike Place Market. These costumes were completed in 1978, and lead to several years of producing similarly sculptural work for a wide range of clients including the original Starbucks.
Belltown was the perfect place to learn on your feet. Through my friendship with next door neighbor and artist Heather Ramsay, I began producing occasional props for the Rep and other Theaters including The Empty Space. Through the social hub of the Belltown Cafe, I met the Seattle Mime Theater and began costuming shows for them including Cinderella (above), Jack and the Beanstalk, and The Emperor's New Clothes. I also worked with Michael (Haute Pants) Murphy to produce props and costume pieces for the Seattle Opera. In 1978 On the Boards leased Washington Hall to present local, national and international contemporary performance. It was there that I worked on several of Norman Durkee's binaural operas, and later created the sets and costumes for his show Without Law/Without Heaven. My work in theater expanded my understanding of collaboration and my interest in culture as kinetic experience.
Bumbershoot, Seattle's Arts Festival, provided great opportunities for collaborative projects. In 1978, I joined with a group of artists to create "Bumberzoo," an outdoor installation largely made from recycled materials gathered from places like Boeing Surplus and Washington Liquidators.
For Bumbershoot 1982, Wendy Brawer organized "Regrade School," where each artist got a desk to embellish and other school room props to create. I immediately knew what to do with my extensive pencil stub collection.
Prior to moving to Belltown, I worked at Copy Mart which had acquired one of Seattle's first 6500 color Xerox machines. I met numerous local artists over the counter there, and I began to play with the new medium myself. In 1978, Ries Niemi curated an exhibit of color xerox art for And/Or, where I showed several pieces including:
30 Washingtons 1978
It was also during this period that I created my first illustration using graphic border tape for a single released by The Features, a band I was friends with. The piece caught the eye of Helene Silverman and Mark Michaelson of Square Studios and The Rocket where I was soon creating edgy political graphics.
The Rosco Louie Gallery played a large roll in the growing art scene, and in 1980 I curated a show of humorous and provocative work. The poster above featured some of my earliest skeleton drawings. Unfortunately I wasn't able to attend the show as I had just taken off for an extensive trip to Mexico, where I would be inspired to explore 'calaveras' further.
Silkscreen poster by Randy Eriksen, 1979
Tracey Rowland is holding the "Soft Machine Gun" that I created for the show in this photo and poster by Randy Eriksen (Rosco).