An Artful Center

"City Light City Bright" by artist Nancy Blum. Image courtesy of the Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs.

“City Light City Bright” hatchcover by artist Nancy Blum. Image courtesy of the Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs.

Manhole covers. Bus shelters. Transit tunnels. Construction fences.  These could be ugly and utilitarian, but in Seattle, they are often works of art, thanks to our long standing Art in Public Places program. Here in the upper Northwest corner of the country, we like to integrate art into our environment.

So it’s little wonder that the Washington State Convention Center, located in the heart of downtown Seattle at 7th & Pike, has its very own pretty impressive art program.  In fact, we think it’s the largest of its kind in the country. More than 100 works of art are on free public display throughout the facility.You’ll find an exceptional collection of renowned artists including Ann Gardner, Alden Mason, Jenny Holzer, Dale Chihuly, James Washington, Jr., Kenneth Callahan, Jacob Lawrence, Guy Anderson and Paul Horiuchi. Guide your way with a handy map:

Lebeg (slight movement in the air) by  Ann Gardner.

Lebeg (slight movement in the air) by Ann Gardner. Photo by Tracey Wickersham.

In addition to the permanent collection, you can enjoy a regular schedule of rotating exhibitions that are carefully planned and curated by a jury of local arts professionals. Currently on view through April 4 are “Evolutionary: Five After Five” and portraits of “Young Social Entrepreneurs” by Davis Freeman.


Five After Five_Small

A long view of  Five After Five. Photo by Tracey Wickersham.


“Five After Five” features five professional visual artists who occupied studio space in close proximity to each other for five years. In August 2007, Sue Danielson, Louise Durocher, Robert Hardgrave, Gillian Theobald, and Claude L. Utley, who had never met before, moved into newly built studios in the Annex section of Building C Studios.

Over time, the group forged a close bond through sharing process, exhibition visits, show openings, and many, many conversations. As their five-year anniversary approached, the five artists thought it would be interesting to exhibit together and examine how they have impacted and influenced each other’s work.

Davis Freeman's Young Social Entrepreneurs

Davis Freeman’s Young Social Entrepreneurs. Photo by Tracey Wickersham.

Davis Freeman is a Seattle-based fine art portrait photographer. His installation features young people ages 16-30 from across the country, but with an emphasis on the Northwest, who are changing the world. These large-scale black and white portraits on brushed aluminum are not only beautiful, but also inspiring, when you learn the stories behind each person.

If all this great art whets your appetite for more, make sure to stop by Visit Seattle’s Visitor Center on the first floor to pick up a free copy of the City of Seattle Public Art Map, and 4Culture’s Public Art Map, which can help you discover hundreds of public works of art throughout Seattle and King County.

About the Author

Tracey Wickersham

Tracey Wickersham is the Director of Cultural Tourism at Visit Seattle. In her off hours she’s the host of a weekly music program on KBCS 91.3 FM and a board member at 4Culture, supporting arts, heritage, public art and historic preservation in King County. She lives in West Seattle with her husband, one headstrong elderly Australian Cattle Dog, heaps of books and music, and an unwieldy garden.

Tracey Wickersham


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