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

Ai Weiwei: Colored Vases

Asian Art Museum
4/5/2014 through 1/1/1970

Colored Vases, Ai’s first work acquired by the Seattle Art Museum, is a pivotal piece in the artist’s …

Details Event Website

Tacoma’s Artwalk

Washington State History Museum
9/15/2011 through 12/15/2011

Please join the third Thursday of every month from 5 pm to 8 pm for Tacoma’s Artwalk. Enjoy …

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Donnell Rawlings

Parlor Live Seattle
8/6/2015 through 8/8/2015

Parlor Live Seattle welcomes the uber talented, Donnell Rawlings! Not only is he one of our favorite comedians, …

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Kirkland Second Thursday Gallery Walk – May

Downtown Kirkland
5/12/2011 through 5/12/2011

Come enjoy the galleries, shops and restaurants of downtown Kirkland.

Details Event Website

Featured Artist Joe Cariati

Museum of Glass
4/24/2014 through 1/1/1970

Joe Cariati began blowing glass at San Francisco State University in 1992. Since then he has traveled, studied …

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Frye Salon

Frye Art Museum
5/30/2015 through 9/6/2015

A restaging of the Founding Collection as it was installed in the home gallery of Charles and Emma …

Details Event Website

Arts & Culture Partners

5th Avenue Theatre

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

Parlor Live Seattle

  • Address 1522 Sixth Ave, Seattle WA 98101
  • Neighborhood Downtown Seattle
  • Phone (206) 602-1441
  • Website parlorlive.com

Broadway at the Paramount

  • Address 911 Pine St, Seattle WA 98101
  • Neighborhood Downtown Seattle
  • Phone (206) 622-2733
  • Website seattle.broadway.com

Seattle Events, producers of Seattle Hempfest

  • Address Hempfest Central-12351 Lake City Way NE, Ste 102, Seattle WA 98125
  • Neighborhood Downtown Seattle
  • Phone (206) 364-4367
  • Website hempfest.org

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