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

First Annual Fire and Ice Festival

Museum of Glass
11/27/2015 through 1/3/2016

Snow queens and snowmen; molten glass and Mason jar lanterns; fire dancers and Frozen. This winter, fire and …

Details Event Website

Artists, Architects and Artisans: Canadian Art 1890-1918

Good Shepherd Center
10/24/2015 through 10/24/2015

Charles Hill provides a comprehensive talk about Canadian art. Artists, Architects and Artisans: Canadian Art 1890–1918 was a …

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Extraordinary Ordinary People: American Masters of Traditional Arts

Jack Straw Productions and New Media Gallery
9/11/2015 through 11/30/2015

In every community, individuals with excellence and authenticity contribute to the rich artistic and cultural legacies of the …

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Arctic Ambitions: Captain Cook and the Northwest Passage

Washington State History Museum
10/17/2015 through 3/6/2016

Arctic Ambitions: Captain Cook and the Northwest Passage focuses on his journeys in the northeast Pacific during 1778 …

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Nathan Vincent’s Let’s Play War!

Bellevue Arts Museum
6/19/2015 through 10/18/2015

Nathan Vincent’s first solo museum exhibition Let’s Play War!debuts at Bellevue Arts Museum. Taking inspiration from the packs …

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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 …

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Arts & Culture Partners

Northwest Folklife

  • Address 158 Thomas St, Ste 32, Seattle WA 98109
  • Neighborhood Downtown Seattle
  • Phone (206) 684-7300
  • Website

Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center

  • Address 4705 W Marginal Way SW, Seattle WA 98106
  • Neighborhood West Seattle
  • Phone (206) 431-1582
  • Website

Village Theatre

  • Address 303 Front St N, Issaquah WA 98027
  • Neighborhood Bellevue/Eastside
  • Phone (425) 392-1942
  • Website

Unexpected Productions

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



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