If you’re new to Seattle, you might know the artistic community's most obvious key players, but the city keeps some of its best art and culture in unexpected, out-of-the-way places. We made you a field guide that covers both.

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If you’re new here, you’re probably sick of hearing it: Once upon a time, Seattle was a foggy, drizzly backwater no one else in the country cared about, home to closet-sized espresso shops, the logging and airplane-manufacturing industries, sloppy dressing, process-based politics, grunge and riot grrrl, and “Frasier’s” establishing shots.

We were a secret. A left-coast curiosity kept resolutely out of sight and mind thanks to our flashier southern cousin, San Francisco.

(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)
(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)

And you know what? We liked it that way.

But things change.

Look no further than the cratered city blocks, a city’s collective growing pains projected onto the fate of the Showbox and even Death Cab for Cutie, whose latest album’s lead single takes a long-established knack for brainy torch songs to what feels like its inevitable conclusion: a eulogy for Old Seattle.

But we can’t delay the inevitable, and no one wants to be an old man yelling at clouds. So welcome, newcomers. You live in Seattle now. You’re well acquainted by now with Bezos’ glass blobs, with the city’s preponderance of teriyaki shops and hot, strong coffee (it’d do Dale Cooper proud). What you don’t know yet is Seattle’s art world, a sprawling, complicated universe unto itself, that, perhaps more than anything else, makes Seattle what it is.

You might know we have a well-established local music scene and a top-ranked ballet company — the biggest players in Seattle’s artistic community are easy to find — but stop there, and you’ll miss out on a trove of independent bookstores, music venues away from the city’s core (and corresponding headaches) and a fall lineup of essential theater, comedy and art that resists easy categorization.

Seattle isn’t a secret anymore, but it still keeps some of its best art and culture in unexpected, out-of-the-way places. We made you a field guide. Use it wisely.

— Megan Burbank, fall arts guide editor

Cover art by Jennifer Luxton, Seattle Times page designer

 

A newcomer’s guide to art in Seattle:


Best bets for fall arts: