2011 Year in Review: Arts and Culture

It was the year of Picassos and Portlandia, popup galleries and cinemas reborn.

By Laura Dannen December 28, 2011

Hey there Picasso.

The year’s big ticket(s) We turned out by the (hundreds of) thousands to see 150 Picassos, on loan from Paris, at the Seattle Art Museum —the largest exhibit SAM’s hosted since King Tut came through with his entourage in 1978. But that wasn’t even the biggest draw of the year: Muggle lovers flooded Pacific Science Center for nearly five months for Harry Potter: the Exhibition. Never underestimate the lure of a dementor costume or Quaffle-throwing station.

The best new trend (Tie) Unconventional book clubs and popup galleries.

Thanks to Bushwick Book Club Seattle, a group of local singer-songwriters who create original music based on a monthly reading assignment, we now know what Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States sounds like as a rock concert. The BBCS even spawned a dance/book club, set to launch next year at Velocity Dance Center.

And for every local art gallery that closed, it felt like three more popped up in its place in the homes of local artists and art enthusiasts. Robert Yoder’s Season gallery took over his living room, while Sierra Stinson’s Vignettes fills her entire Capitol Hill apartment once a month. We loved finding art in unexpected places.

The best new TV show We developed a serious addiction to Portlandia, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s new TV satire of Portland and all its bird-loving, organic-farming, flannel-wearing ways. Funny, that sounds a little like Seattle, too…

Best performance by a Seattle actor Connor Toms as Homer Wells in The Cider House Rules (Parts 1 & 2).

Best performance by a Seattle actress Renata Friedman in The K of D.

The top traveling show Brian Yorkey’s Next to Normal, a Tony-winning rock musical about a bipolar mother wreaking havoc on her family, at 5th Avenue Theatre. It sparked a citywide conversation about mental illness throughout the month of February—and reminded us that great theater can make a difference.

Biggest A&E news story The fall (and rise?) of Intiman Theatre.

It was also the year classical music became hip, thanks to the arrival of Ludovic Morlot, Seattle Symphony’s fresh-faced new music director and conductor, and an influx of orchestras manned by twentysomethings, from Seattle Modern Orchestra to Seattle Rock Orchestra.

…the year of resurrection… Historic Uptown and Neptune cinemas were reborn, and Columbia City Cinema could be on its way.

…the year we said farewell to the Merce Cunningham Dance Company

And the year that ‘90s bands mattered again. Happy 20th to Pearl Jam and Nirvana’s Nevermind, and a happy new year to all.

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