Visual Art

10 Things to Know About Seattle Art Fair

The first edition of the Paul Allen–backed visual art showcase takes over CenturyLink Event Center this weekend. Here's the vital info.

By Seth Sommerfeld July 29, 2015

Seattle art fair mariane ibrahim gallery the kikuyu bride  piaget  by kimiko yoshida  2008 hyd7ga

Galleries from around the world come together for the first Seattle Art Fair.

Kimiko Yoshida, The Kikuyu Bride (Piaget), 2008. From Mariane Ibrahim Gallery.

The first Seattle Art Fair is happening this weekend at CenturyLink Field Event Center. So… uhhh… what is it?

1. What are the basics?

The Seattle Arts Fair takes places Friday, July 31 through Sunday, August 2 at CenturyLink Field Event Center (with a VIP preview on Thursday). It’s the brainchild of Paul Allen’s Vulcan Inc. Single day tickets cost $20. Weekend passes are available for $35.

2. What’s there to see?

Seattle Art Fair brings together 62 top galleries from around the world to display their works under one roof. Seattle (obviously) leads the way with 13 galleries, but event also features representation from New York City, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul, and numerous other locales. It’s essentially the ultimate art walk.

3. So it’s only galleries?

No, there are also be a few special projects on display. The headliner of the bunch is Thinking Currents, an exhibition of 25 emerging new media artists (video, sound, etc.) from the Pacific Rim. Put together by Afghan-born independent curator and Director of New York's Asia Contemporary Art Week Leeza Ahmady, the showcase should offer a stark contrast from the work the galleries show.

Additionally, as part of the Creative Lab series, artist Micah Ganske will make pieces on-site using a Gigabot 3D printer, and Addie Wagenknecht will create new works using paint-loaded drones.

4. What’s there to do besides look at the art?

Well, smart people will be talking about art. On Saturday (Aug 1), Chicago’s Marc Fischer will discuss Public Collectors, his organization that focuses on preserving the type of cultural artifacts that regular achieval institutions typically ignore (zines, tapes, unusual advertisements, ect.). The same day, artist and engineer Natalie Jeremijenko will speak about socio-ecological systems and the challenges of redesigning our world for the common good. There will also be panel discussions on Northwest Native American art in the modern age (July 31) and the creation and themes of Thinking Currents (Aug 1).

And, of course, there's a bookstore/gift store.

5. How will things be laid out?

In attempt to bring flow to the massive 70,000 square foot space and make it feel like the galleries are interacting with each other, the galleries won’t be segregated by city or medium. Independent pieces of sculpture will as be placed throughout the event center to help bring life to the aisles. While Vulcan expects over 10,000 attendees this weekend, it (hopefully) shouldn’t feel overcrowded at any point.

6. So it’s just for Seattle people to see the art?

No. Vulcan hopes the event draws the art world at large to Seattle and exposes the local galleries and artists to a much wider audience. That means in addition to locals perusing the space, they’ll be plenty of industry professionals populating the throngs. The goal is to build the Seattle Art Fair into an annual destination show that boosts Seattle’s profile in the same way Art Basel solidified Miami’s place in the global cultural scene.

7. So is it all confined to CenturyLink?

No, there are actually a few noteworthy off-site elements too. A few blocks away, the Living Computer Museum hosts Singularity, where artists express technology’s impact on their craft. Seattle Art Fair heads outdoors with two installations in local parks. Tableaux Vivant: Nature’s Playground finds Portland’s Wendy Red Star setting up assorted hunting decoy wildlife in Volunteer Park and encouraging the public to take photos and selfies in this unnatural wilderness. At Myrtle Edwards Park, Seattle’s own Jenny Heishman displays French doors, brick wall with window, pink hearts, jungle, spring garden, big dark palm trees a series of paintings of backdrops ideal for photographs hung side by side in front of the scenic waterfront in order to make viewers question whether they should snap a picture in front of natural or artificial beauty.

8. What if I’ve got a little extra money to burn?

VIP tickets are available for $150. The extra cost allows patrons a first look at the festivities with the aforementioned preview night on Thursday, and access to exclusive offsite events like parties and home tours of private collectors. Best of all, Art Market is donating the VIP proceeds to local arts funding nonprofit Artist Trust.

9. What if that all feels a little too corporate?

Those looking for an alternative to Seattle Art Fair needn’t venture far from CenturyLink. Running concurrently with Seattle Art Fair, King Street Station hosts Out of Site, an expansive showcase featuring 100 local artists. It’s the sort of comparatively D.I.Y. counterpoint to the billionaire-funded extravaganza. If you’re already planning on attending Seattle Art Fair, take the time to walk across CenturyLink’s parking lot to peruse Out of Site. Tickets are only $10.

10. Will there be ice cream?

There will be ice cream! New York artist Spencer Finch brings Sunset, his solar-powered artistic ice cream truck to the Seattle Art Fair. The soft serve will be colored with the precise hues of the Seattle sunset, making it a beautifully tasty treat.

Seattle Art Fair
July 30–Aug 2, CenturyLink Field Event Center, single day tickets $20; weekend pass $35–$150

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