Seattle Fall Arts Preview: New Venues, Top Shows and Emerging Artists
This season, lean in and explore the resilient spirit of the arts
By Gwendolyn Elliott
August 22, 2018
At Whim W’him’s closing performance last season, I was struck by a deceptively simple opening remark from artistic director Olivier Wevers: “Imagine your life without art.”
I briefly entertained the thought then—shuddered to think it—but was soon transported by the company’s presentation of its own art practice: the mobile embodiment of ideas and emotions called contemporary dance.
Since then, I have thought more about what a life would look like devoid of music, literature, dance, poetry, film, theater, animation, comedy, sculpture, painting, fashion, (insert your regularly consumed art of choice here). But even as our city grapples with growing pains, we’re on firm ground with the arts, right?
Certainly, change has come to the Seattle arts community. The city’s building boom has displaced many long-standing cultural venues, and artists have been moving out as part of a well-documented exodus for some time. But the city’s growth has also presented accommodations for others, and space for artists and organizations willing to adapt and regroup. Kirsten Anderson, owner of the shuttered Pioneer Square gallery Roq La Rue, has relocated to Capitol Hill, where she now runs Creatura House Gallery. Capitol Hill’s Ghost Gallery, which closed in January, has reopened farther up on the hill.
Another aspect of all this change is a heightened level of collaboration among arts groups, artists and disciplines. This coming season (see the full calendar here), genres collide in museum settings such as the Frye, where you’ll encounter a text-based exhibit from acclaimed local poet Quentin Baker; at the Seattle Art Museum, where public programming coordinator (and professional dancer) David Rue is rebranding SAM Remix, a fusion of music, dance and visual art, into a community-based arts project all his own; and at Colleen Louise Barry’s Mount Analogue gallery, where performance, visual art, poetry and prose link up under one roof, sometimes blowing the lid right off it.
Elsewhere, cultural cornerstones will reveal new experiences, home bases and dynamic programming: Writing and literary haven Richard Hugo House officially opens its new home September 22; cabaret/dinner theater/spectacle Teatro ZinZanni finally has a permanent place to stake its spiegeltent, the former Redhook brewery in Woodinville; Seattle Opera relocates its headquarters and opens its brand-new civic center—a forum to connect with the community, similar to KEXP’s Gathering Space—at Seattle Center in October; and the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture’s impressive new gallery and headquarters, Arts at King Street Station, opens in November (followed by its inaugural exhibit in January). Peeking into 2019, the Seattle Symphony, Seattle Asian Art Museum, Town Hall Seattle, The Burke Museum—even the always-interesting On the Boards, with a brand new-artist residency in tow—are all expected to unveil new wings, refreshed spaces and long-awaited remodels.
Without a doubt, it’s hard to imagine a life without art, for now, in Seattle. The arts are all around us, it seems.
And yet, change is in the air. What is the best approach to it? We recommend Wevers’ suggestion: Imagine your life without art. Then, find something that moves you in these pages, and get out there.