Everything You Need to Know About the Last Five Years of the Seattle Art Fair

June 20, 2019

With the 2019 Seattle Art Fair just over a month away, it’s important to consider how the fair has developed over the last five years and some of the key highlights along the way. An ever-evolving event with inspiration and direction drawn from a number of different areas, we are expecting 2019 to be the best iteration yet – and one that has taken much from its relatively short history. 

Outside the Seattle Art Fair in 2018 at CenturyLink Field Event Center

The late Paul G. Allen, our founder, had a vision to create an art fair that was born from his love of visiting biennales worldwide, namely in Venice, Italy. Combined with his passion for art and investing in the cultural landscape of the region, the catalysts behind the event, the first Seattle Art Fair officially was announced in 2014, with it set to take place in the summer of 2015. 

Held at the CenturyLink Field Event Center at the end of July, more than 15,000 attendees visited over 60 exhibitors in what was a landmark event for the city and one spurned a number of satellite shows and local art events in the area during the weekend. 

“It’s a showcase of the amazing arts and culture scene that’s here in Seattle already,” said Max Fishko, managing partner of Art Market Productions and fair director in a 2015 interview with the Seattle Times. “It’s a platform for connection between Seattle and the rest of the world, including the Pacific Rim, and the strength of those connections.” 

That was only the beginning however, as over the next three years the fair would grow significantly and become a staple in the Pacific Northwest’s bustling and vibrant art scene. 

In 2016, the fair boasted over 80 exhibitors, featuring teamLab, a large-scale interactive installation from Pace Gallery and a dance performance of “Duet with Piece of String” from acclaimed artists Bebe Miller and Darrell Jones at Union Station.  

Further establishing itself the following year in 2017, attendance grew from the opening year and exactly 100 exhibitors showed, signaling the first time it broke that milestone. Even famed actor and avid art collector Cheech Marin made an appearance and regaled patrons with stories of his career and the art on display. 

Actor and collector Cheech Marin (middle) joined by the de la Torre Brothers, Einar and Jamex

“We felt that collectors were serious and engaged,” said Seth Curcio of Shulamit Nazarian, a first-time exhibitor at the fair in 2017. “We were excited that some of our largest works were placed within the first two days. We met with curators from throughout the West Coast and our performance with NY-based artist Naama Tsabar drew hundreds of viewers each day!” 

2018 took things a step further with 106 exhibitors and over 22,500 attendees. Emmy winner Wayne White showcased his 14-foot puppets of Seattle pioneer women May Ann and Louisa Boren that were donated to a public elementary school while “Probably Chelsea” from Heather Dewey Hagborg created a stunning 3D visual interpretation of Chelsea Manning’s portrait... 30 different ways.  

A visitor taking a photo of Heather Dewey Hagborg's "Probably Chelsea"

Building on the successes of the last four years is a huge goal of the 2019 fair with an ambitious list of exhibitors and projects and talks. Nato Thompson returns as Artistic Director and has anchored the inspiration for the fair in the Wunderkammer, or cabinets of curiosities, which were rooms from the 16th and 17th century filled with an immense and eclectic collections of artifacts. 

Slated for August 1-4, we once again return to the CenturyLink Field Event Center, its home for the entire five-year run. Be sure to purchase your tickets now and follow along with our blog and social channels for more news and updates about the 5th annual Seattle Art Fair. 

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