Five Questions for Tommer Peterson

tommer2Name: Tommer Peterson
Title: Deputy Director, Grantmakers in the Arts

1. Where did you grow up and how did you end up where you are now?

Grew up here in Seattle, and after bouncing around a bit, Tuba City, Arizona and Kyoto, Japan, ended up back here, and still like it a lot.

2. Which performance, song, play, movie, painting or other work of art had the biggest influence on you and why?

In college I worked as a preparator at the Henry Art Museum an the University of Washington. They have a large collection of Mingei folk pottery from Japan, most notably work of Kanjiro Kawai and Shoji Hamada. I spent a lot of time with these pieces in the collection and looking back, can see the beginning of the arc of my aesthetic in that work. I was completely hooked. Much later I studied calligraphy in Japan, and that was a direct result of having experienced the folk pottery.

3. What skill, talent or attribute do you most wish you had and why?

I would love to be able to sight-read music. That would be magic! I would also like to be able to fly like Superman.

4. What do you do to make a living? Describe a normal day.

Grantmakers is a professional organization of arts and culture funders. I manage publications, web resources, and plan conferences all designed to help funders work smarter and make grants more effectively. We don’t prescribe methods, we research and uncover what funders are doing that works, and disseminate those models for others. This work puts me in touch with a community of dedicated and smart people in the arts. A typical day? The best ones have moving useful ideas forward, the worst involve coding receipts and busywork.

5. Have you ever had to make a choice between work and art? What did you choose, why, and what was the outcome?

No. I have stubbornly continued to pursue both, and integrate them as best as possible. In addition to my job with GIA I continue to exhibit calligraphy and design sets for the theater. And, yes, sometimes this gets to be too much.

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