The Top 10 Things Every Washington Art Lover Should Experience
Washington State is a hotspot for the arts. From cities to towns, the art scene is thriving and offers art lovers many experiences that should not be missed. Exploring beautiful areas that have inspired artists for years, discovering new artists while having a cup of coffee, or examining European art in a remote mansion, here are the top 10 unique adventures awaiting art lovers in Washington.
Currently celebrating its 69th year, the Bellevue Arts Museum presents an impressive art and craft fair in downtown Bellevue each year. Known as BAM ARTSfair, the art festival draws in thousands of art lovers and showcases approximately 300 juried artists ready to share their creations with the world. From 2-D mixed media, ceramics, and photography, to paintings, sculptures and more, the genres represented are vast and varied. Fun for the entire family, the festival also features a KIDSfair, exhibitions and installations plus tasty edibles. BAM ARTSfair is also held in conjunction with two other arts fairs: Bellevue Festival of the Arts and the 6th Street Fair.
Taking place in Seattle, Bumbershoot is an annual festival, currently in its 45th year, celebrating the eclectic and lively music and arts scene of the Pacific Northwest. Wanting to connect ‘audiences with diverse arts and cultural ideas,’ this arts event showcases everything, from the visual arts, and film to literary arts, performing arts and many more. There is something for every art lover. Held at the Seattle Center over Labor Day weekend, spectators can witness stimulating performances and incredible exhibitions by both regional talent and international artists making this festival a great way to end the summer.
Located in Ellensburg in the heart of Central Washington, Dick and Jane’s Spot is a must-see for any lover of folk art. The brainchild of Jane Orleman and her late husband Richard C. Elliott, this impressive site features an eclectic array of sculptures, carvings, and other decorations, including over 10,000 bottle caps and thousands of reflectors. While Dick and Jane have created most of the artwork, the Spot also showcases works by other artists — over 40 — from around the region. A colorful display that will make anyone happy, the site is a private residence and yard, so visitors must respect the fences and stroll around outside of the fencing. Be sure to visit often as new pieces continue to be added.
Situated between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia on the Swinomish Channel, La Conner is a beautiful historic waterfront village that attracts numerous art lovers each year. The area features an abundance of art providing guests with a feast for the eyes. An artist’s paradise, many individuals have been inspired by the village’s beautiful surroundings, where the light dances over both water and earth. Visit the town’s museums — the Museum of Northwest Art, and galleries, many of which can be found in restored historic buildings, to scope out the talent in the area. With the rising popularity of literary arts, performing arts and art festivals, La Conner is a true art lover’s haven.
Located in Southern Washington in Goldendale, Maryhill Museum of Art is a lovely gem of a museum located inside a three-story Beaux Art mansion. Founded by Sam Hill and opened to the public in 1940, the museum is impressive with an eclectic collection of art, which includes everything from Art Nouveau glass, paintings by American, British, Dutch, and French artists, Orthodox icons, and American Indian artifacts to name but a few. The museum also boasts a great selection of various works by the renowned French sculptor, Auguste Rodin. The stunning grounds, which include beautiful views of the Columbia River Gorge plus a host of outdoor sculptures, will also allure anyone with an appreciation for art.
An AAM accredited and Smithsonian Affiliate institution, The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture celebrates and showcases regional history and art plus the culture of American Indians and others. Founded in 1916 in Spokane, the permanent collection is varied and includes everything: textiles, paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures and so much more. The MAC, as it’s better known, hosts rotating and long-term exhibitions plus traveling exhibits within its five galleries. With such an impressive array of art, including a contemporary fine art collection with works by Doug Safranek, Kristen Capp, and Edward and Nancy Reddin Kienholz to name a few, art lovers have much to explore.
Part of the Seattle Art Museum, the Olympic Sculpture Park is a lovely outdoor venue where art aficionados can take a leisurely stroll through various landscapes while taking in the beauty of amazing sculptures. Opened in 2007, the award-winning park is downtown Seattle’s largest green space, and in addition to the beautiful art dotting the area, guests will also be presented with magnificent views of the Puget Sound, Olympic Mountains, plus various landmarks. Some of the artists represented in the park include Louise Bourgeois, Alexander Calder, Claes Oldenburg, Beverly Pepper, and Richard Serra to name a few. Open every day, the sculpture park is free ensuring that anyone who wants to visit can do so.
When visiting the San Juan Islands, Orcas Island Artworks, established in 1981, is a must-visit for any art lover. Loved by locals and tourists alike, this artist cooperative — owned and operated by the artists themselves — showcases a host of media, including painting, jewelry, sculpture, and glass to name but a few made by local artists and craftspeople. Usually located in the rustic, charming community of Olga, the gallery is temporarily located in Eastsound after a fire severely damaged their permanent space — a historic 1938 strawberry packing house. Visit their website for updates on the renovation of their historic place.
Located in Pioneer Square in downtown Seattle, Zeitgeist is a popular coffeehouse where visitors can linger over a cup of fresh coffee, an espresso drink or sample tasty edibles. Featuring an airy space, complete with lofty ceilings and exposed brick walls, the venue not only tantalizes taste buds but also provides a great backdrop for fascinating works of art by emerging and established artists. With a strong passion for the arts, the café participates in First Thursday, a downtown art walk, each month and gives area artists a chance to shine. With locally roasted coffee and great art, it is no surprise this café is favored with foodies and art lovers alike.
Located in Washington’s capital, Olympia, The Washington Center is a performing arts venue offering spectators a wonderful selection of shows. The contemporary and modern interior provides a great space where visitors can enjoy a variety of performances, including dance companies, concerts, and comedy shows to name a few. Recent and future highlights include the Koresh Dance Company, which performs incredible dances to Middle Eastern and classical music, and the Seattle Men’s Chorus in Legacy: Tyler’s Suite & I am Harvey Milk. Something for everyone, the venue also features a gallery in the lobby for visual art exhibitions, including the current show Bernard Bleha, Sculptural Paintings.