Inopportune: Stage One by Cai Guo-Qiang at Seattle Art Museum. Photo: R Barnes

Arts & Culture

Seattle: The intersection of culture and fun.

True, people buy tickets many months in advance to see Seattle Opera perform signature masterworks such as Wagner’s “Ring.” Yes, the city’s numerous theatres such as ACT and Seattle Rep produce great work on par with any in the country. And there’s no doubt that the expanded Seattle Art Museum contributes to Seattle’s reputation as a great arts city. But while Seattle can boast sophistication with the best of them, the city’s arts scene also reveals its unconventional side.

More than 400 permanently sited works in the City of Seattle’s public art collection enliven parks, bridges, streets libraries and even transfer stations.  Storefronts bloom with temporary art installations.

Art is integrated almost everywhere you look. Supported by award-winning public art programs, artists design everything from building components to manhole covers. And art is found all around you in daily life.

“It seems like more spaces than ever are showing art,” says comic artist David Lasky, quoted in The Artists’ Guide to Seattle, Second Edition. “I’ve had countless shows in cafes, restaurants, bars and shops. Shows like that create a social opportunity in which to see art.”

Seattle’s love for innovation isn’t limited to visual art. After all, this was the home of Nirvana and Pearl Jam, trailblazers of the grunge rock era whose influences spread to nearly every music genre. Even the 112-year-old Seattle Symphony Orchestra stays on trend. In addition to performing the classics, SSO is known for adventurous programming of contemporary works.

For those who think ballet is “old school,” consider Pacific Northwest Ballet. Long acclaimed for its outstanding Balanchine repertoire, PNB is equally noted for its embrace of current choreographers and regularly electrifies audiences with premieres of new work.

Theater on both a large and small scale is an integral part of Seattle’s arts scene. Local theater service group Theatre Puget Sound counts more than 140 producing theater companies in its membership.

Overall, Seattle’s arts scene mirrors its inhabitants. For every traditionalist, there’s a non-traditionalist; for every serious piece of art, there’s something to make you laugh. What inspires us? Some say it’s the coffee culture. Others say it’s the weather. It could just be that Seattle is the cultural center of the Northwest, and its citizens are happy to celebrate. Whatever it is, there’s no doubt that things are fun and a little quirky, too.

The Artists’ View of Seattle, 3rd Edition

See Seattle from a whole new perspective!

Discover Seattle and the Puget Sound region through the eyes of some of the musicians, writers, painters, sculptors, directors and other creative artists who live here. Download the Artists’ View of Seattle, 3rd Edition. (3.5mb)

Upcoming Arts & Culture Events

Randy Gallegos: Level Up

Krab Jab Studio
9/12/2015 through 10/3/2015

Game illustrator and imaginary realist Randy Gallegos has put together a show of new works entitled “Level Up”, …

Details Event Website

S.F.B. Morse, Gallery of the Louvre

Seattle Art Museum
10/1/2015 through 1/10/2016

Samuel F. B. Morse (1791-1872) is better known today for his invention of the electromagnetic telegraph – and …

Details Event Website

Graced in Glass: Trade Beads and Native

Fort Nisqually Living History Museum
7/25/2015 through 11/15/2015

Hudson’s Bay Company traders and outposts throughout North America stocked beads among their wares. The beads were traded …

Details Event Website

Intimate Impressionism from the National Gallery of Art

Seattle Art Museum
10/1/2015 through 1/3/2016

The Seattle Art Museum is proud to present Intimate Impressionism from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, …

Details Event Website

Pacific Northwest Concours d’Elegance

LeMay – America’s Car Museum
9/11/2015 through 9/13/2015

America’s Car Museum is pleased to honor some of the finest examples of automotive art and design worldwide …

Details Event Website

The Northwest Palace of Ashurnasirpal II

Frye Art Museum
9/10/2015 through 9/11/2015

Human-headed winged lions and bulls guarded the Nimrud palace of Ashurnasirpal II, king of Assyria from 884-859 BCE, …

Details Event Website

Arts & Culture Partners

Seattle Repertory Theatre

  • Address Seattle Center, Seattle WA 98109
  • Neighborhood Queen Anne
  • Phone (206) 443-2222
  • Website seattlerep.org

ACT Theatre

  • Address 700 Union St, Seattle WA 98101
  • Neighborhood Downtown Seattle
  • Phone (206) 292-7660
  • Website acttheatre.org

Unexpected Productions

  • Address 1428 Post Alley, Seattle WA 98101
  • Neighborhood Downtown Seattle
  • Phone (206) 587-2414
  • Website unexpectedproductions.org

5th Avenue Theatre

  • Address 1326 Fifth Ave, Ste 735, Seattle WA 98101
  • Neighborhood Downtown Seattle
  • Phone (206) 625-1418 - Administration
  • Website 5thavenue.org

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