The SZ team took a trip to the Seattle Art Fair on August 6th to support the art scene of the Pacific Northwest, and we took some photos of our favorite pieces.
Founded by Paul Allen in 2015, the Seattle Art Fair is meant to showcase the best in modern and contemporary art and represent the arts community of the Pacific Northwest. It aims to bring together collectors, galleries, and various local arts groups to one place, and Allen’s goal is to get Seattle on the art world map.
Seattle Art Fair claims to have a pulse on the local arts community. But after visiting the Art Fair this year, we found ourselves wondering what the Seattle arts scene truly is, and whether the local sentiment is really on board with everything the fair does. Here are some questions that came to our minds:
- How do major art fairs affect the local artists and smaller galleries in the city?
- Is Seattle Art Fair a true representation of local Pacific Northwest artists?
- What words, themes, or ideas actually describe the local art community?
- Is there even a local arts scene anymore?
While the Seattle Art Fair undoubtedly brings a lot of excitement about art to Seattle, some artists (and in our own opinion, too) believe it is not a true representation of Seattle artists. This feeling primarily comes from the fact that Seattle Art Fair’s exhibitors have become increasingly less Seattle or Pacific Northwest-based and more prestigious. The famous galleries receive most of the attention which seems to detract from the original purpose – to represent the art of the Pacific Northwest.
There is also a feeling of exclusivity – for artists and galleries to get into the Art Fair as exhibitors, it’s based on who you know, rather than your art. For some galleries who do exhibit at the Art Fair, the expensiveness of having a space isn’t outweighed by sales, and the event can feel more taxing than enjoyable.
But the Seattle Art Fair has its positives. Besides bringing artists and beautiful artwork together in one place, many see an uptick in sales and exposure by getting their names out there at the Art Fair. In this way, the Art Fair does help Seattle make a name for itself in the art world. With the influx of out-of-towners into Seattle, there is also the need to appeal to a non-local audience even within the city of Seattle, making it justifiable to have national and international galleries represented.
For a more genuine view of the Seattle art scene, the Out of Sight show began as a reaction to the inaugural Art Fair. Running throughout the month of August (the month of the Seattle Art Fair), Out of Sight provides a hyperlocal representation of Seattle artists. This counter-event has sparked even more local art shows and events to happen around the time of Seattle Art Fair in hopes to expose the Art Fair audience to a more authentic version of the Seattle art community.
We don’t know the answers to all of the questions that were sparked by our Seattle Art Fair visit, but perhaps the answer lies somewhere between the Out of Sight show and Seattle Art Fair. The art scene of Seattle takes further exploration within our local art world, but hopefully both of these shows inspire a spirit of curiosity in the vibrant local art scene.
Written by Julia Hess