Annie Crawley: Annie Crawley Humpback whalesUnderwater photographer and filmmaker

A diver, journalist and ocean activist, Annie’s images are breathtaking – from whales, sea lions and octopi to the devastation of plastic trash strewn on beaches. Find her art on the dockside wall, and film talks on the presenter screen.

Barbara thumbBarbara de Pirro: Eco-sculptor

Barbara’s a Shelton artist who makes ethereal beauty out of trash. Sculpting with reclaimed plastic bottles, she’s making Ocean Fest an installation that will hang from the 100-year-old beams like a ghostly kelp forest, swaying gently above our heads. Find it in front of the dockside wall.

Mike Coots: Photographer, shark advocate

Twenty years ago, Mike Coots went out for a surf – and lost a leg to a tiger shark. Now the Hawaii photographer is more than just an Instagram sensation. He’s also a passionate advocate for shark conservation, via his stunning artwork. Find it behind the big white walls, opposite the whale skeleton. There will also be shark artefacts from Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, and glass shark art from Museum of Glass.

Fab5 thumbFab-5: Mural Crew

Since 2000, Fab-5 has been cultivating community through urban arts education. Tacomans know their vibrant mural work well. But they also uplift youth by giving them instruction and a space to learn breakdancing, DJing, legal graffiti and more. Find them doing live painting out on the esplanade.

TUPAC West African balletT.U.P.A.C.: West African dance

Tucked behind tall doors downtown, the Tacoma Urban Performing Arts Center teaches ballet, hip hop, pilates and West African dance, with a focus on teaching young dancers of color. At Ocean Fest they’ll be performing the West African dance “Water is Life.” Find them in front of the big white Dance Wall.

Tacoma City Ballet Whale SongTacoma City Ballet: Whale Song

Dancers move lithely under a vast sea of aqua silk, to the eerie, haunting backdrop of the song of humpback whales. It’s a perfect ballet to have at Ocean Fest, where dancers will create flowing beauty near the suspended skeleton of a humpback whale (at the Dance Wall).

Erin Calata and Greg YoutzCalata/Youtz/Kupinse: Puget Sound songs

Music by a Tacoma composer. Words by a Tacoma poet. All sung by a Tacoma mezzo-soprano – and all inspired by Puget Sound. “Poetry Above the Roar,” sung by Erin Calata with electronic accompaniment, includes poetry by former poet laureate William Kupinse set to music by Greg Youtz. Hear Erin at the Kelp Stage inside.

Cello player Gretchen YanoverGretchen Yanover: Cellist

Seattle cellist Gretchen Yanover creates landscapes and seascapes of sound, looping her electric cello into a sound that blends classical with improvisation, structured with soaring. Pieces like “Lighthouse” and “Waves Wash Over Us” bring the ocean into our hearts. Find her at the Kelp Stage.

Aerialist Deanna RileyDeanna Riley: Aerialist

Deanna Riley does more than just breathtaking tricks on aerial hoop (lyra) – she tells stories in the air. Known by Tacomans for her vibrant work with Vuelta la Luna circus, Riley has been seduced by the ocean and Puget Sound since childhood. “The cold, salty air clears the mind and refreshes the spirit,” she says. “My creativity is an ocean, powerfully determined.” Find Riley in her aerial rigging just inside the Foss doorway, or playing with hoops outside.

Mbira duoGwynne Brown & Jeff Brahe, mbira duo

In the African nation of Zimbabwe, water is a precious resource. For centuries, Zimbabwe’s Shona people have played the mbira to pray for rain, and to honor water spirits known as njuzu. Local musicians Jeff Brahe and Gwynne Brown will play traditional Shona songs on these acoustic instruments, sounding like rain drops, a rushing river, or ocean waves. Hear them at the Kelp Stage.


Marisela Fleites flamencoMarisela Fleites, flamenco

Her shawl floating and billowing like waves, Marisela Fleites brings to traditional Spanish flamenco a Cuban sensibility. A renowned local performer and teacher, Fleites has been dancing since she was 5, and tells stories with every fluid, sinuous move – including her island heritage. Find her inside at the Dance Wall.