The third annual Heineken City Arts Fest (Oct. 17–20) will transform downtown Seattle into a playground for lovers of music and the arts.
Wristbands and individual tickets are on sale now, and will give fans access to dozens of concerts at iconic venues, secret arts shows and unexpected experiences. To get the skinny on the fest this year, we caught up with City Arts Magazine Editor Leah Baltus and picked her brain about music, art, and the ‘Patron Saint of Indie Rock Music’.
Tell me about the show this year? The line-up? The Art?
On the music side, there’s a huge range of stuff. One I’m really excited about is the Dave Byrne/St. Vincent show. We also have some great local stuff from local artists, too. You’ve got Reignwolf, who’s the big, hot music story out of Seattle right now. He had a crazy set at Sasquatch, Bumbershoot, and the (Capitol Hill) Block Party. We’re going to let him tear up the Laserdome. There’s so much range in music line up this year. There’s a ton, really something for everyone on the music side.
In terms of visual art, you guys added something new this year – ‘Unexpected and Secret Locations’. Sort of small, pop-up art exhibits around town in unknown locations. Tell me how that came about? What the idea behind this feature.
Sara Edwards, who coordinates the exhibits for us, had a bunch of cleaver ideas this year. ‘Unexpected and Secret Locations’ is a series of different shows in secret locations. The location of these shows will be released about 48 hours before each performance. Some performances will be held in private homes, artist studios, and a bunch of public spaces. The idea is to break out of the box. Let’s blend everything all together and see what happens.
Another interesting exhibit is ‘Topographies.’ A long, long time ago, European cities had people that sort of went around and explored street art, historic buildings, cultural institutions, etc. This exhibit is similar. Artists will be taking groups around the city. For example, in Capitol Hill, groups will go around and look at places significant to Queer history. The New Mystics will be doing a bike scavenger hunt where participants will take photos all over town.
The Genre Bender Showcase is something we started last year. We pulled together artists in different genres – a chocolatier and a poet, for example – and had them create something together.
This is the third annual City Arts Fest. I’m curious, how has this event evolved over the years?
The initial idea of the festival started because the magazine wanted more event opportunities to connect with people in the community. In the first year, the visual arts were sort of sprinkled on huge music lineup. It wasn’t really emphasized much.
Now, the festival reflects what we’re trying to do with the magazine. The arts component has gotten much bigger. I think the festival scene in general has changed a lot. They have become their own beasts. It’s been interesting to figure out where our niche is.
There are a lot of festivals in Seattle– Bumbershoot, Capitol Hill Block Party, etc. How is City Arts Fest different from the rest and why should we go?
The thing that makes our different is that it’s physically all over. It occupies the urban environment in a way that it takes people on adventure. You really get to choose your own adventure. The element of surprise is part of art.