Lenora St. Blog

3 Reasons Why Seattle is the Perfect Place to Attend an Arts College

Seattle Skyline from Gasworks Park
Photo by Winnie Westergard

An artist’s commitment to their craft is constant and unending. As you develop your artform, refine your craft, and work on projects, you’ll need time to recharge, clear your head, and spend time away.

As a gateway to a vibrant community with a rich history of arts, culture, and industry, Seattle is the perfect city for a burgeoning artist. Though Seattle’s beginnings as a true frontier town were guided by port development, an industry of logging and mills, our founder, Nellie Cornish, helped usher in its future as a hub for the arts through her commitment to training artists—building a school that would integrate itself as a vital part of the unique arts and culture scene fundamental to Seattle’s identity.

Seattle’s history as the birthplace of grunge still clings to the soul of every Generation Xer and millennial living in the Emerald City. But Seattle’s musical history stretches back even further to John Cage and Jimi Hendrix. Following the grunge scene, an ecosystem of thriving punk, hardcore, and indie communities birthed the bands Fleet Foxes, Sunny Day Real Estate, Minus the Bear, the Fall of Troy, Deep Sea Diver, Gatsbys American Dream, Death Cab for Cutie, Pedro the Lion, Botch, 764-Hero, and Modest Mouse.

With its rich history, Seattle is a perfect city for an art school. Cornish is surrounded by dozens of theaters, museums, music venues, and galleries, as well as design firms, production companies, and creative agencies. With iconic Seattle landmarks, vast forests, mountains, and bodies of water as our backdrop, there’s no end for inspiration and exploration.

Here are just a few of the things that make Seattle the perfect place for any young burgeoning artist:

Iconic Landmarks Worth Exploring

Pike Place Market.
Image credit: Ryan Stone/Unsplash.

Seattle’s skyline can always be recognized by the iconic Space Needle at the heart of the city, but it’s not the only landmark that sets us apart. Check out these local spots you can’t find anywhere else:

  • Pike Place Market—Opened in 1907, Pike Place is one of the oldest public farmers’ markets in the country. Home to over 200 artists and craftspeople, this market is a must see.
  • The Seattle Waterfront—The Central Waterfront of Seattle offers views of the Puget Sound and a variety of attractions, from the Seattle Great Wheel and the Seattle Aquarium to vendors and restaurants on the piers.
  • Gas Works Park—The site of the former Seattle Gas Light Company gasification plant, Gas Works Park is a 19.1-acre public park on the north shore of Lake Union.
  • The Fremont Troll— A public sculpture in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle.
  • Rainier Tower— A unique 41-story skyscraper in downtown Seattle.
  • Ballard Locks—Locks at the west side of Salmon Bay in the Lake Washington Ship Canal between the neighborhoods of Ballard and Magnolia.
  • Underground Seattle—A network of underground passageways and basements in the Pioneer Square neighborhood of Seattle. These passageways were once at street level, but no longer used after the streets were elevated.
  • Olympic Sculpture Park—A 9-acre public park featuring modern large-scale sculptural works and an indoor pavilion. The Olympic Sculpture Park is run by the Seattle Art Museum.

Natural Beauty in the Heart of the City

A lighthouse on a beach.
Image credit: Paul Matheson/ Unsplash.

It’s not called the Emerald City for nothing. Seattle is surrounded by a wilderness of untouched land, mountain ranges, and national forests, but the city itself is also brimming with greenery, parks, and beaches that provide a break from the hustle and bustle of the city without having to leave it. Here are some local favorites:

  • Discovery Park—With 534 acres, Discovery Park is Seattle’s largest public park and offers over 11 miles of walking trails. This park offers both forest and beach views, and includes the United Indians of All Tribes’ Daybreak Star Cultural Center.
  • Golden Gardens—A public park in Ballard that includes wetlands, beaches, and hiking trails. The park also includes a historic landmark bathhouse.
  • Alki Beach—Located in West Seattle, Alki Beach Park has a 2.5 mile pedestrian walkway. Alki has a sandy beach, making it a popular spot in the summer. The park offers views of both the Seattle skyline and Puget Sound.
  • Green Lake Park—A 2.8 mile walking path wraps around this urban lake in Seattle’s Green Lake neighborhood. The park features a recreation area with trails, a beach,  plus tennis courts, baseball fields, and an indoor pool.
  • Washington Park Arboretum—A joint project of the University of Washington, the Seattle Parks and Recreation, and the nonprofit Arboretum Foundation. This arboretum is home to a Japanese botanical garden and 230 acres contain a wide variety of plants, some that can only be found in the Northwest.

A Thriving Arts Community

A building.
Image credit: Anthony Fomin/Unsplash.

You’ll find no shortage of places to explore the visual and performing arts in Seattle’s theaters, museums, music venues, and galleries. Throughout the year, festivals and cultural events are an annual staple to look forward to. Here are several places and events to explore the city’s art scene:

  • Museum of Pop Culture—A nonprofit museum dedicated to contemporary popular culture, previously called the Experience Music Project.
  • Seattle Art Museum—The Seattle Art Museum operates three locations, including the main museum downtown, the Seattle Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park, and the Olympic Sculpture Park on the waterfront.
  • Northwest Film Forum—A community-minded film center in Seattle with classic and indie movies, live performances, filmmaking classes, and equipment rentals.
  • The Showbox—A music venue in Seattle that opened in 1939.
  • Bumbershoot—One of North America’s largest international music and arts festivals, Bumbershoot is held at the Seattle Center every Labor Day weekend.
  • Seattle International Film Festival—Among the top film festivals in North America, the Seattle International Film Festival traditionally attracts nearly 150,000 attendees to celebrate films from more than 80 countries and regions around the world.
  • Northwest Folklife Festival—An annual festival that celebrates the arts, culture, and heritage of the greater Pacific Northwest. Since 1972, the Northwest Folklife Festival has gathered upward of 250,000 participants at Seattle Center during Memorial Day weekend.
  • Capitol Hill Block Party—An annual three-day music festival and block party held each July in Capitol Hill. The festival features music from a variety of genres.
  • Monthly neighborhood art walks—Every month, local artists and merchants join to support the city’s art scene with community events known as Art Walks. Seattle’s many neighborhoods host a variety of these walks, you can find them here.

Location is Everything

Cornish College of the Arts is an integral part of Seattle’s landscape, history, and future, and Seattle provides the perfect backdrop for anyone entering the visual and performing arts. The Cornish of today is a lab for creativity and transformation, where talented students are empowered to become artists, citizens, and innovators.

As the next generation takes the reins of Seattle’s artistic and innovative future, they, too, will leave their mark on the city’s history. As generational leaders emerge, Gen Z will continue to shape Seattle’s art scene through its artists, citizens, and innovators.

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