Visual arts

After a two-year hiatus, the Seattle art fair returns

Seattle is known for being “out there”, both geographically and ideologically. Consistently ranked among the nation’s most progressive cities, its thuggish mentality is also evident in its arts scene, which embodies Seattle’s pioneering spirit while highlighting the many challenges facing the growing metropolis, including the gentrification, homelessness and worsening income inequality. Never a community to shy away from challenges, however, Seattle’s art ethos of relentless innovation and optimism is back with the return of the Seattle Art Fair, opening July 21.

After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the sixth edition of the fair highlights the depth and breadth of the region’s artistic community, while also focusing on renowned galleries and artists from around the world. . “Art fairs bring together a city’s vibrant artistic culture under one gigantic roof,” says Amada Cruz, director and CEO of the Seattle Art Museum, which has signed on as the fair’s beneficiary partner for the next three years. “I hope visitors unfamiliar with Seattle’s arts community will come away impressed with the incredible talent, diversity and passion to be found here.”

Humaira Abid, THIS WORLD IS BEAUTIFUL AND DANGEROUS TOO2022. Photograph courtesy of the artist.

Featuring 85 local, national and international galleries on 87,000 square feet at the Lumen Field Event Center, the four-day event will also feature several regional arts organizations, including Artist Trust, Henry Art Gallery, Pilchuck Glass School and Amplifier. It’s clear that this year’s organizers have embraced the city’s broad definition of art, with institutions focusing on everything from NFTs to activist public art to bonsai. “We know our community appreciates the arts, and we want them to understand and be touched by the living art form that is bonsai,” says Pat Bako, executive director of the Pacific Bonsai Museum, who joins the fair as a cultural partner for the first time. Seattle NFT Museum co-founder Peter Hamilton also recognizes the city’s openness to new art forms. “Our community is curious and innovative, and we hope to show visitors that the recent explosion of digital art is a wonderful thing for artists who have long been overlooked,” he says.

Examining what has not traditionally been examined is a common theme for artists creating the fair’s 10 site-specific installations, including Pakistan-born, Seattle-based artist Humaira Abid. Represented by Greg Kucera Gallery, Abid’s intricately carved and painted wooden sculptures evoke a delicately haunting presence as she tackles complex topics such as gender roles in the current global refugee crisis. “Art should comfort the disturbed and upset the comfortable,” Abid says in describing his four-part installation at the Seattle Art Fair. THIS WORLD IS BEAUTIFUL AND DANGEROUS TOO. “As artists, we have a responsibility to inform and be a voice for people who cannot speak for themselves. I hope my work will bring us closer together and open up conversations.

man standing in front of a house
Inye Wokoma, Separation census2022. Photograph courtesy of the artist.

Sparking conversations about difficult but pressing topics is also a concern for Seattle-based artist and filmmaker Inye Wokoma, who presents an installation in collaboration with Wa Na Wari, the local cultural organization he co-founded and which centers the black art and culture. Title Separation census, Wokoma’s collage and digital installation examine the emotional consequences of displacement and forced migration for individuals in the Central District, Seattle’s historically black neighborhood. “What’s happening in Seattle in terms of community development and dispersal is happening in just about every major city in the country,” the artist explains. “It’s important to bring these conversations to a place like the Seattle Art Fair so that we can have meaningful engagement centered around sharing personal and individual experiences.”

Among the vast array of artists, institutions and artworks on display at Seattle Art Fair 2022, visitors will find a direct line to the unwavering creative energy that pulses within this community, despite the many challenges. facing Seattle artists today. As the city continues the hard work needed to maintain a vibrant arts ecosystem in a technology-dominated community, the fair is emphasizing the key ingredient to this meaningful work: participation. “This fair offers the Seattle cultural community the opportunity to see and support each other in person,” said Seattle Art Fair Artistic Director Nato Thompson. “Art reflects our lives much better than newspapers. Getting to know these artists and galleries provides deep insight into the depth and complexity of the people who make up Seattle’s art scene.

Subscribe to the Cultural newsletter

Of course, we can be close friends. Unfiltered access awaits.