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

Then + Now

Northwest Woodworkers Gallery
8/1/2015 through 9/30/2015

Exhibition that hallmarks the advancement of the individual artist’s expression within the group. The oldest collective of its …

Details Event Website

Maker Day: Toy Boat Building with the Center for Wooden Boats

Museum of History and Industry
9/26/2015 through 9/26/2015

Come to a monthly Maker Day to tinker and experiment alongside some of Seattle’s most innovative makers.

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Canvas Constructions: Karen Carson and Allan McCollum

Henry Art Gallery
6/20/2015 through 10/4/2015

This exhibition pairs two large-scale works of Karen Carson and Allan McCollum that explore the materiality of canvas …

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Seattle Style in the Roaring ’20s

Museum of History and Industry
8/22/2015 through 8/22/2015

The fashions of the 1920s were exciting and modern, and Seattle wanted in on the fun. Learn about …

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Andy Warhol: Little Red Book #178

Frye Art Museum
5/16/2015 through 9/13/2015

Throughout the 1970s, Warhol documented his activities and social milieu using a Polaroid camera. When he died in …

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Bouquet XI

Henry Art Gallery
5/23/2015 through 8/16/2015

This summer, Bouquet XI (2014) by Dutch artist Willem de Rooij occupies the Henry’s Test Site. Composed of …

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Arts & Culture Partners

Unexpected Productions

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

Parlor Live Seattle

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

The Triple Door

  • Address 216 Union St, Seattle WA 98101
  • Neighborhood Downtown Seattle
  • Phone (206) 838-4333
  • Website thetripledoor.net

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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