Nancy Guppy Interviews Seattle Opera's Rick Araluce

Nancy Guppy gets perspective with Rick Araluce, master of small worlds and massive sets
Seattle Opera Seattle magazine Nancy Guppy Seattle
Nancy turns the tables on miniature sculptor Rick Araluce

COFFEE* DATE: Rick Araluce, lead scenic artist for Seattle Opera (see his set work in The Ring this month) and maker of tiny, haunting dioramas. His solo show, The Minutes, the Hours, the Days, opens at Bellevue Arts Museum on August 16 (
Café Paloma in Pioneer Square, a sunny evening in June
Beer. *No actual coffee consumed

Nancy Guppy: Finish this sentence: Rick Araluce is…
Rick Araluce:
A visual artist, guitar player, hot-rod-drivin’ sorta guy, who has a couple of pets and a beautiful wife in South Park.

NG: What do you do?
I’m most known for my miniature scenarios that are sort of worlds unto themselves. There’s a story that’s implicit in these pieces—a door, a window, an electric cord leading someplace, plumbing coming from somewhere—but I don’t tell you what the story is. I try to give a general sense of narrative like “something has happened, something might happen.”

NG: Do you secretly wish that the world and everyone in it were tiny?
I don’t necessarily, but I’ve heard people say, “I wish I was tiny so I could go into your little environment and live there for a while.”

NG: Were you into making forts as a kid?
I definitely was one of those fort-building kids. I did tree forts, and one fort that was dug under the dirt with a piece of plywood on top of it, which was disguised with dirt.

NG: Do you like opera?
I actually do. It’s melodramatic, it’s maybe absurd—the pageantry, the scenery— I’ve always been a fan.

NG: What’s your worst quality?
I used to be a really angry person and I would act out. I’m lucky I wasn’t shot. I’ve mellowed over time.

NG: What’s your favorite emotion?
Is curiosity an emotion?

NG: On a scale of 1–10, how would you rate this interview?
I’m gonna say this is a 9.

Nancy Guppy showcases Seattle artists on her TV show, Art Zone: