Raúl de Nieves' work on display at Henry Art Gallery Henry Art Gallery

For the Love of Art

Discover Seattle’s creative spirit through our museums, concert halls, galleries, and more.

On Exhibit // Fantastic Fests // Gallery Hop // Music in Motion // Curtain Call

On Exhibit

Raúl de Nieves’ work on display at Henry Art Gallery Henry Art Gallery

The city’s exceptional museums not only exhibit works from every corner of the globe, they also invite visitors to experience Seattle’s vibrant cultural diversity through an artistic lens. Since its founding in 1933, the Seattle Art Museum (1300 First Ave) has played a vital role in the visual arts scene—there are now nearly 25,000 pieces in its permanent collection. Discover everything from a thought-provoking exhibit of the American experience from a Native perspective with Juane Quick-to-See Smith’s Memory Map (Feb 24–May 12) to a riveting retrospective of one of the country’s top artists. Sister institution Seattle Asian Art Museum (1400 E Prospect St) delves into the region’s lasting Asian influences with modern works and ancient artifacts, while the free Frye Art Museum (704 Terry Ave) blends the past and present in its contemporary shows and gilded-frame salon paintings. Mexican artist Raúl de Nieves (through Sep 1, 2024) interrogates the intersection of religion and mythology with a stunning stained-glass installation at Henry Art Gallery (15th Ave NE and NE 41st St), and Chihuly Garden and Glass (305 Harrison St) is a breathtaking showcase for glass maestro Dale Chihuly.

BACK TO TOP

Fantastic Fests

Anzanga Marimba Ensemble at Northwest Folklife Festival April Jingco

Numerous festivals, some lasting a weekend and others taking place over many weeks, celebrate the city’s rich and constantly evolving arts scene. Seattle Chamber Music Winter Festival (Jan 26–Feb 4) is a string, wind, and piano instrument party. Come February, Seattle Museum Month makes it even easier to go museum hopping with half-off admission for downtown hotel guests. Then feel that bluegrass twang at the Wintergrass Music Festival (Feb 22–25). Spring brings a flurry of art draws, including several film festivals. Best of the Northwest Spring Show (Apr 13–14) showcases regional art and crafts, and the community-driven Northwest Folklife Festival (May 24–27) celebrates the region’s diverse communities by presenting music, dance, and art on more than 20 Seattle Center stages alongside an array of crafts and food vendors.

Courtesy Elisheba Johnson

Elisheba Johnson

Born and raised in Seattle, the co-founder and co-executive director of the Black culture and arts community center Wa Na Wari (911 24th Ave) has been interested in interdisciplinary arts spaces since earning her BFA at Cornish College of the Arts. “I was fascinated with the space that Gertude Stein provided for some of the most important arts figures of the 20th century. In my early 20s, I started Faire Gallery Cafe, which I ran until 2012. It was a real melting pot of mediums and artists who were able to try out new ideas together.”

Flash-forward to 2019, when Inye Wokoma had a vision for converting his grandmother’s historic Central District house into an art center. Johnson, with co-founders Jill Freidberg and Rachel Kessler, worked with Wokoma to open Wa Na Wari that very year.

“We feel so strongly about the importance of maintaining this legacy,” she says. “There’s this craving for Black art in Seattle—of being able to see ourselves represented in what we’re viewing. I want this to be a space where people can wrestle with the ideas of Black artists. Visitors have said to me, ‘I moved here and didn’t know where to find community until now!’”

Check Wa Na Wari’s website for the latest on exhibits and events, which have included arts markets, dance concerts, comedy nights, and poetry workshops. “It’s a really exciting moment, as we have the Arte Noir (2301 E Union St) shop around the corner. You can walk a loop of nearby businesses with Métier Brewing (2616 E Cherry St), Jerk Shack (1133 24th Ave), Simply Soulful (2321 S Jackson St), 23rd Ave Brewing (2313 S Jackson St), Avole Coffee (2330 E Union St), and more.”

BACK TO TOP

Gallery Hop

Vernal Pond by Chris Bruch Courtesy Greg Kucera Gallery

Seattle’s plethora of galleries allow for more intimate art appreciation, and the scene spans every corner of the city. Greg Kucera Gallery (212 Third Ave S) has graced Seattle with fresh contemporary works for more than 40 years and now features an outdoor sculpture showcase, while Steinbrueck Native Gallery (2030 Western Ave) presents wood carvings, prints, and jewelry from First Nations artists. Lean into work that probes the themes of social justice and education at the University of Washington’s Jacob Lawrence Gallery (4000 15th Ave NE). Then embrace the idea that age is just a number with curated pieces from artists over 50 at Fogue Studios (5519 Airport Way S). For a deeper dive, join one of the more than dozen neighborhood art walks.

Courtesy Andrea Wilbur

Andrea Wilbur-Sigo

“For as long as I can remember I’ve been making art,” says Andrea Wilbur-Sigo, the renowned wood carver and weaver who’s a member of the Squaxin Island Tribe and whose stunning, large-scale works can be seen at the new Summit building at Seattle Convention Center (900 Pine St), the Kraken Community Iceplex (10601 Fifth Ave NE), and downtown’s PCC Community Markets (1320 Fourth Ave), as well as at Stonington Gallery (125 S Jackson St). “I started selling beadwork when I was 8 years old, and I’ve been carving full-time for almost 30 years now.”

“All of my pieces tell a long story about our connection with the environment—with plants and animals,” she says. “It’s really cool, because if you go back to our oldest legends, they all relate to environmental issues. I’m really just taking these stories and making them relevant for today.”

One of Wilbur-Sigo’s latest creations is the 20-foot-tall Grandmother Frog welcome figure outside Pioneer Square’s álʔal Café (122 Second Ave S), which is located at Chief Seattle Club, a Native-run housing and human services agency. Among her favorite art spaces in the city, she recommends the Burke Museum (4303 Memorial Way NE) and the Eighth Generation (1406 First Ave) gallery near Pike Place Market, which specializes in works by Native artists. She adds, “The Muckleshoot, Puyallup, Squaxin Island, and Suquamish tribes all have great cultural centers and museums where you can view Native art from both the present and the past.”

BACK TO TOP

Music & Motion

Ballet dancers wearing light blue tutus and holding white props dance on stage with a forest backdrop and snow falling down.

Pacific Northwest Ballet performing George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker Angela Sterling

From classic to contemporary, Seattle music and dance groups know how to move you in more ways than one. Ranging from world-class concert halls to intimate neighborhood spaces, the city’s performance venues host local and touring acts throughout the year. Grammy Award–winning Seattle Symphony (200 University St) easily slides between Beethoven concertos (Feb 3–4) and whimsical movie soundtracks like The Princess Bride (Feb 14–17). Seattle Opera (321 Mercer St) delivers powerful performances, both familiar and new, including X: The Life & Times of Malcom X (Feb 24–Mar 9) and The Barber of Seville (May 4–18). When it comes to art in motion, Pacific Northwest Ballet (301 Mercer St) is a pillar in the dance community with annual favorites like The Nutcracker (Nov 24–Dec 27, 2023) alongside enthralling ensemble performances like One Thousand Pieces (Mar 15–24). Push the boundaries with the experimental, emerging movement of Velocity Dance Center and contemporary creations from Whim W’him.

Courtesy Elena Gatilova

Elena Gatilova

Aerialist Elena Gatilova’s career literally got off the ground when she was growing up in Ukraine and medaling in the Gymnastics World Cup in the 1990s. Auditioning by VHS tape led her to a five-year run with Cirque du Soleil’s Zumanity show in Las Vegas, and for the past 12 years she’s wowed audiences by performing with Seattle’s Teatro ZinZanni.

“Being a gymnast is a great way to develop your power and flexibility and tricks,” she says, adding that she’s loved being a part of ZinZanni “since the first day. We work so well together. And after my first summer, I fell in love with Washington state, with both Seattle and the nature close by. I’m a hiker, and I’ve climbed four of the state’s five volcanoes—all but Glacier Peak. My partner and I own a boat and love sailing out of Elliott Bay Marina. I feel like I’m truly a Pacific Northwesterner now.”

She describes ZinZanni as “a very unique form of entertainment—a fusion of comedy, acrobatics, live music, singing, and dinner show. It’s an all-evening experience. And it’s very intimate, because the seating is 360 degrees and completely surrounds the stage. As an audience member, you’re basically part of the show. We animate through our guests—we talk to them, play some gags, invite them onstage.”

ZinZanni, which has performed in different venues over the years, is currently searching for a permanent location in Seattle. Gatilova says, “We’ve been lucky to secure a residency at Lotte Hotel Seattle (809 Fifth Ave). It’s a beautiful, historic building, and we’ll be performing in their grand ballroom through the end of March 2024.”

BACK TO TOP

Curtain Call

Nine actors wearing colorful costumes stand in a line on stage. The stage is cast in orange and pink light.

Seattle Shakespeare Company John Ulman

From dazzling touring musicals to ground-breaking premieres to unique takes on beloved classics, the city’s vibrant theater scene inspires delight and wonder. Within an ornate venue modeled after China’s Forbidden City, The 5th Avenue Theatre (1308 Fifth Ave) hosts touring Broadway shows and produces original musical theater, like the whodunit spoof Something’s Afoot (Mar 1–21). Broadway at the Paramount (911 Pine St) brings some of the country’s most sensational shows, like The Book of Mormon (Jan 9–14), to the Seattle stage. Regional theater stalwart Seattle Rep (155 Mercer St) is known for timely and thoughtful works like Sanctuary City (Mar 1–31), by Pulitzer Prize winner Martyna Majok, about the plight of two teenage undocumented DREAMers navigating the challenges of life in the US. At ACT Theatre (700 Union St), contemporary plays pose big questions. In A Case for the Existence of God (Feb 2–18), audiences follow two fathers struggling for financial security and to understand what it means to be human. The Bard’s timeless words are the main focus of Seattle Shakespeare Company, while the cozy Taproot Theatre (204 and 212 N 85th St) is known for local favorites and world premieres alike. Become enraptured with moving contemporary performance art from national performers at On the Boards (100 W Roy St).

Timothy McCuen Piggee LaRae Lobdell

Timothy McCuen Piggee

“I was just finishing up a stint at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, when a friend from grad school invited me to come to Seattle for vacation,” says the actor, director, and Cornish College of the Arts Musical Theater Faculty Chair, who has starred on Broadway in Catch Me If You Can and in TV, movies, and countless Seattle theater productions. “I never went home. I’ve been here 30 years.”

When he spoke with us, Piggee was busy with pre-production work on Fat Ham, which he’s directing at Seattle Rep (155 Mercer St) April 12–May 12. Although live theater has experienced its challenges in recent years, Piggee observes that “human beings are hard-wired to create narratives to make meaning in their lives, and that’s something that live performance has going for it, in terms of being present in a space with other bodies moving through a catharsis.”

“Seattle is a place where new voices have an opportunity to be heard,” he adds, noting how excited he was to see Andrew Lee Creech’s Last Drive to Dodge at Taproot Theatre (212 N 85th St) last September. “He was a student of mine at Cornish, and he’s become this accomplished actor and fascinating playwright. It’s wonderful to see that come to fruition.”

For visiting theater and film lovers, he recommends Solo Bar & Eatery (200 Roy St) as a popular hangout among theater folks. “In Issaquah, I like the Big Picture (35 W Sunset Way) restaurant and movie theater. And I’m not embarrassed to admit that I love a great 4DX movie at the Regal Meridian (1501 Seventh Ave) downtown. Of course, I’m also excited about the reopening of SIFF Cinema Downtown (formerly Cinerama) (2100 Fourth Ave).

BACK TO TOP

SUBSCRIBE TO THE SEATTLE LOCALIST

Seattle’s best every month in your inbox

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Book Your Trip

Partner Advertisements