Posted March 21, 2020

Beautiful Expressions: Arts & Theater in Seattle


To call Seattle creative is to call the sky blue. We have to admit, narrowing the list of our favorite galleries, museums and theaters wasn’t an art walk in the park. Still, here we go, attempting to squeeze in as many suggestions as we can without imploding the internet. (Note: we’ll give Seattle’s music scene its own well-deserved spotlight in an upcoming post.)

The Eyes Have It: Visually speaking, Seattle’s natural beauty has some pretty fierce man-made competition.

  • First Thursday Art Walk: Credit Seattle for hosting the country’s first ever art walk, now a wildly popular pastime in 14 neighborhoods around the city.
  • Tashiro Kaplan Artist Lofts: A hub of artists’ residences, studios and galleries like SOIL and Platform, showcasing emerging artists who make landscape video collages, temporary tattoos and other (literally) off-the-wall expressions.
  • Public Art: Not a fan of four-walled galleries? Take Jack Mackie’s “Dance Steps” along Broadway on Capitol Hill, or “Black Sun” by Isamu Noguchi, perched in Volunteer Park. Cast your own shadow to tell the time top the 28-foot-wide Sundial at Gas Works Park. Want to keep current on public works? There’s an app for that.
  • Burke Museum: In the current “Pacific Voices” exhibit, 17 Pacific Rim communities share the cool ways they pass along culture through art, ceremony and stories.
  • Among the more well-known visual arts venues are Seattle Art Museum, Henry Art Gallery, Olympic Sculpture Park and the breathtaking Chihuly Garden & Glass.
Chihuly Garden & Glass

A beautiful rainbow at Chihuly Garden & Glass.

Built to Impress: Architecture is another way Seattle isn’t shy about showing its creative edge.

  • Ignatius Chapel: Students had a say in the meditative design of Seattle University’s main chapel, with its “halos” of colored light.
  • Seattle Public Library: Not your grandma’s library, this one is an eye-popper with enough glass to cover five and half football fields.
  • EMP Museum: Famed architect Frank Gehry sliced into electric guitars to inspire his hard-to-miss steel and aluminum design.

Frank Gehry’s awe-inspiring exterior for the Experience Music Project Museum. (Photo credit: EMP Museum)

Stories on Stage: A peek into Seattle’s expansive theater scene reveals colossal creativity that could keep you theater-hopping for weeks.

  • On the Boards: The 2016-17 season promises to be a doozy. Think moveable rooms (powered by 195 feet of elevated tracks), “magical” mushrooms and CPR dummies.
  • Annex Theater: See new plays and audacious interpretations of classics, and try to catch the monthly late-night variety show “Spin the Bottle.”
  • Neptune Theater: Recently transformed from a one-screen cinema to a multi-use venue, this gorgeously ornate theater now hosts concerts, comedians, lectures and more, including “Nights at Neptune,” free performances showcasing social justice issues.
  • BookIt: More than 100 full-length novels have come to life on stage here.
  • Jewelbox Theater: Once the hub of Seattle’s “Film Row” during the silent-film era, these days you’ll see films, plays, cabaret and burlesque.
  • ACT: Amazing production designs and contemporary plays since 1965.
  • Always in vogue are Seattle Repertory Theatre, ACT, Paramount Theater and 5th Avenue Theater.

Let It Move: There seems to be no limit to the world-class choreography and dance talent in this town. Here are just a few that are really nailing it.

  • Velocity Dance Center: With shows almost every week, Velocity is known for leading-edge work that incorporates improvisation, poetry and traveling choirs.
  • Spectrum Dance Theater: Spectrum’s artistic director Donald Byrd (who’s been compared to the legendary George Balanchine) devoted last year’s season to a bold exploration of race relations.
Rambunctious 2.0 Tino Tran 2016 B

Bold, colorful dance from Spectrum Dance Company’s 2016 season #RACEish. (Photo credit: Tino Tran)

  • Can Can: With cast names like Le Minx and Neon Keon, you know you’re in for something wild. In this case, burlesque—prepare yourself for gravity-defying moves and lots of skin.
  • Westlake Dance Center: Pick up some new moves of your own at this adult drop-in dance studio, offering classes in hip-hop, jazz, lyrical and more.
  • You can’t help but enjoy the artistry of Pacific Northwest Ballet, or the World Dance series at the Meany Center for Performing Arts (formerly UW World Series) at the University of Washington Seattle campus.
Pacific Northwest Ballet - see Meredith for attribution

Pacific Northwest Ballet company dancers in Symphony in C, choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. PNB presents Symphony in C as part of TRICOLORE, September 23 – October 2, 2016. Photo © Angela Sterling.

Hotel Vintage: Within walking distance is downtown Seattle’s Hotel Vintage, an artful spot to relax after a day of cultural adventure. Discuss your favorite sights over sweet potato gnocchi at Tulio, named one of the country’s best Italian restaurants by Travel & Leisure. Then rest up in guestrooms that feature original photography of Washington wine country.


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