With world-class museums and thriving galleries, not to mention its famous glass-blowing studios, quirky Seattle stands out as one of the most diverse arts destinations in the world.
Seattle’s museums not only host special exhibitions on masters from Michelangelo to Warhol, but also assemble outstanding artwork from around the world in extensive permanent collections. Seattle Art Museum’s African and Native American collections deserve a visit, as do the Chinese and Japanese ceramics at the Seattle Asian Art Museum, which houses one of the world’s great collections of Asian art. From historical photography at the Henry Art Gallery to European paintings at the Frye, Seattle pays homage to an extraordinary range of artistic schools and styles.
The city celebrates the arts through public artwork and plentiful cultural events. Through its “1% for art” ordinance, supporting public art with city construction budgets, Seattle has filled its plazas with striking monumental sculptures, such as Jonathan Borofsky’s 48-foot-tall Hammering Man near the Seattle Art Museum. Museums, galleries and artists’ studios open their doors for the popular First Thursday art walk in the historic Pioneer Square neighborhood. Similar art walks abound in other Seattle neighborhoods, such as hipster haven Ballard, off-beat Fremont and gritty industrial Georgetown. Local crafters elevate knitting and stitching to an art form at the Northwest Folklife Festival and indie craft fair Urban Craft Uprising. The Bellevue Festival of the Arts, attracting hundreds of artists every July, is one of the country’s premiere juried art fairs.
The Seattle area also enjoys an international reputation for glass-blowing. Glass sculptor Dale Chihuly founded the famous Pilchuck Glass School in nearby Stanwood, Washington, with art patrons Anne Gould Hauberg and John Hauberg. It’s well worth a drive to Tacoma to discover the sinuous, iridescent masterpieces at the Tacoma Art Museum and the Museum of Glass. (Elisa Mader, Seattle Visual Art blogger)