Seattle, I hear you have some art.
November 12, 2017 2:37 PM   Subscribe

Simple: I'm heading to Seattle for the first time, and I love art—as in, I'm open to all of it. I'm going to be there for two full weekdays later this month, and my time is my own. I want to see cool stuff I can't see every day in Chicago. What might that be?

I'm researching online as well (including using the seattle tag on AskMe, of course), but I don't want to miss anything really cool that you'd recommend to an art freak. Photography, sculpture, design, painting, textiles, architecture, whatever. I'm not looking for a list of museums, as that's easy to find; but maybe I need to know about the one supercool thing in a particular museum/gallery? If it wows you, I'm interested.

You live there or have been there; I have not, so I defer to your knowledge and experience. I will be staying at the Westin and be walking and using Lyft/cabs when necessary.
posted by heyho to Travel & Transportation around Seattle, WA (13 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
The Frye art museum is kind of under the radar but a real gem. The Henry too.
posted by matildaben at 3:05 PM on November 12, 2017 [4 favorites]

Seconding The Frye!
posted by Calzephyr at 3:10 PM on November 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

Honestly, I wouldn't say Seattle has great art, except for the Frye.
posted by humboldt32 at 4:13 PM on November 12, 2017

Seattle doesn't spend as much money on the arts as other big cities, don't get too excited. Skip the SAM, stroll through the Olympic Sculpture Garden if the weather cooperates. Check out the Chihuly Garden and Glass if you enjoy blown glass (and haven't been to the Bellagio or seen other Chihuly exhibits).

I wholeheartedly recommend an afternoon of browsing art galleries in Pioneer Square. Look up the First Thursday Art Walk for a map that'll give you a good idea for where to start. Obviously, it doesn't have to be a Thursday for you to do that as they are open to the public.

One of the newer offerings in town is the SoDo track, a collection of murals. Might be worth a visit if that's your thing, but keep in mind that it's in an industrial area without much else going on. You will get a preview of about a dozen of the murals if you take the light rail from or to the airport.
posted by halogen at 5:33 PM on November 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

Thirding that Seattle is not a huge art city, and to go to Pioneer Square's galleries. Pioneer Square is the oldest part of Seattle and sometimes feels like a completely different city.

The last exhibit in a museum that I really liked in Seattle was Fun. No Fun. at the Henry, but that's over now.

If you are REALLY INTO GLASS, maybe take a day and go to Tacoma? Tacoma Art Museum has more delightful and thoughtful exhibits right now than SAM; Tacoma has beautiful views, as well as the Museum of Glass. The problem is that Tacoma is an hour south, in good traffic conditions (and it is often NOT good).
posted by batter_my_heart at 5:43 PM on November 12, 2017

Since you mention architecture, check out the downtown public library. Take some time to walk around and browse the archives on the top floor, they're a gem. Bonus: not far from Pioneer Square.
posted by halogen at 7:28 PM on November 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

Do you like Richard Serra? I do, and "Wake," the Serra sculpture in the Olympic Sculpture Garden, is one of my very favorites. I would go to the Garden just for that.
posted by escabeche at 7:30 PM on November 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yes! I've traveled to see Serra exhibitions before! Oooh, this is good. Definitely.
posted by heyho at 7:48 PM on November 12, 2017

I also seek out visual art everywhere I travel and before I went to Seattle I heard the same consensus as I’m hearing in this thread. However, the most artistically realized botanical garden I’ve ever seen is the remarkable Bloedel Reserve, on an island west of Seattle - either for this visit or the future, you might consider Bloedel if you like that flavor of beauty and also want amazing views of the Seattle skyline on the ferry to the island.
posted by kalapierson at 11:10 PM on November 12, 2017 [3 favorites]

You might like to visit A Sound Garden, it's on the NOAA property and access requires some deliberateness.

If you're willing to travel a little bit, the Pacific Bonsai Museum and the Rhododendron Specias Botanical Gardens are pretty neat, and next to each other, and you could probably just hop a bus to Federal Way and catch a Lyft from the Federal Way transit center.

Also, not art focused, but you could go see the Salmon run in Carkeek Park
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:06 AM on November 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

Ride the light rail back and forth in the SoDo district! There's a bunch of murals on many of the buildings facing the train.
posted by foxfirefey at 1:16 PM on November 13, 2017

Some specific Pioneer Square galleries I like:

+ Stonington Gallery
+ Foster/White Gallery
+ Davidson Galleries
posted by hades at 8:05 PM on November 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

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