Peter Toms is a sculptor, performer, musician, community leader and business owner in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle. Fremont is known as the Left Bank of Seattle with a energetic flavor of artistic activism and outreach, and Peter has been instrumental in the evolution and growth of this neighborhood's character.
Peter was born in Seattle in1961. He began sculpting as a teenager - first award - 2nd place, Governor's choice, California State Legislature jr. high school sculpture show, 1976.
He studied Stone Carving, Bronze Casting, Glass Blowing, Photography, Airbrush techniques, and Metalwork at Santa Barbara City College, California 1981- 84. He also sculpted in wood extensively during this period.
He worked as a fine instrument finisher at Triplett Harps, Santa Barbara, 1982-3
In a youthful fit of pique he got a job as a sailor, sailed away on the tall ship Star Pilot all the way through the Panama Canal, then joined another tall ship MV Jaqueline and returned to San Francisco, 1985-86. Very hard work!
|He founded Condor Electronics in Santa Barbara, California,
1986 - a company that he still owns and operates today in Seattle.
He joined the Santa Barbara Solstice Celebration, 1986, and built his first parade ensemble, Lobsters on the Loose, with 6 actors and 2 giant puppets.
He returned to the Solstice Parade in 1987 and created The Jungle ensemble with 75 actors and a huge float/ drum structure. He joined the Dino Club, a group of artists and actors surrounding a huge dinosaur puppet that was exhibited at various events around southern California including the Doo Dah parade, the Festival of Masks on Wilshire Blvd, and at Knott's Berry Farm amusement park.
He returned again in 1988 to the Santa Barbara Solstice Celebration as an artist in residence, creating the Dragon ensemble including a 65 foot dragon puppet. The audience at this time was estimated at +100,000.
Having moved to Seattle, Peter co-founded the Fremont Solstice Parade in 1989, an event which has developed fantastically into a signature Seattle celebration enjoyed by tens of thousands and which has just completed it's 15th anniversary production. Every year since 1986 he has produced at least one parade ensemble, and some years as many as four. In 1989 he won Best in Class in the Seattle Torchlight Parade with the "Carribean Phoenix" float.
In 1989 Peter founded the Winter Solstice Feast, a dinner and art installation event that has become locally famous for it's artworks and hall decorations.
At this point Peter's arts history becomes very dense. Through the 90's he produced dozens of events, parties, classes, retreats, workshops and learning experiences, all orbiting around the central themes of community development, public interaction with art, and his own personal art expression. Some highlights include the MayDay community gathering he founded in 1992, the procurement and renovation of the Fremont Arts Council Powerhouse building in 1993-4, and participating with the Cirque de Flambe fire performance troupe of which he was the Ringmaster from 1996-2000. In 2000 he co-founded with Terry Robb the Luminata Lantern Parade.
In 1997 he and 15 others from Fremont traveled to Hsin Kang, Taiwan, to participate in the International Children's Festival, where the group taught parade arts and dance to hundreds and led a daily street parade through the streets of that wonderful town, culminating in a pageant performance on the stage of the festival.
In 1998 he was Artistic Director of the Flying Dreams touring troupe. They performed on October 10th in Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Square, Taipei, before 50,000 at the 1998 Double Ten Celebrations.
In 2001, Flying Dreams returned to Taiwan to teach in Hsin Kang for a special parade. At that same time, a book was published in Taiwan by Dr. Kang Min-jay about Fremont and the Fremont Arts Council, in which Peter and many other Fremonsters were featured. The group traveled on to Taipei where they were featured in several magazine and radio interviews regarding the book.
Since 2001 he has been working with large scale ice sculptures. These include arc welded steel structures and huge ice blocks, and are designed to be directly interacted with and shaped by the audience. Thus far he has created 7 such works in Seattle and Eugene Oregon.
Summary of Arts Resume
1996 Mask show, Phinney Ridge Center Art Gallery