Arts in Seattle - Emergence of Seattle As An Arts Center

Emergence of Seattle As An Arts Center

Seattle first began to be a visual arts center in the 1920s. Australian painter Ambrose Patterson arrived in 1919. Over the next few decades Mark Tobey, Morris Graves, Kenneth Callahan, Guy Irving Anderson, and Paul Horiuchi would establish themselves as nationally and internationally known artists (see the Northwest School).

While few, if any, figures in the "high" performing arts were based in Seattle in this era, the city was definitely on the national and international arts touring circuit. According to Paul de Barros, in just the single year 1925 Seattle witnessed performances by Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff, and operatic bass Feodor Chaliapin; Hungarian composer and pianist Ernő Dohnányi; African American lyric tenor Roland Hayes; and Austrian violinist and composer Fritz Kreisler.

Seattle had an active jazz scene dating largely from speakeasies during Prohibition, when Mildred Bailey launched her career singing in Seattle. By mid-century the thriving jazz scene centering in some two dozen clubs along Jackson Street would produce such luminaries as Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, and Ernestine Anderson. The Brothers Four, one of the collegiate folk groups of the late 1950s and early 1960s, were also from Seattle.

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