6 Seattle exhibitions to add to your 2023 calendar

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Looking ahead to what 2023 has in store for art enthusiasts, there’s a lot that hasn’t been announced. While much of what local galleries and museums will be presenting in 2023 will likely be revealed in the coming weeks and months, there’s still plenty to get excited about as you plan your arts outings.

For instance, there are new solo exhibitions from local artists and a chance to immerse yourself in a unique and complex textile. Speaking of immerse, two museums will be presenting new immersive works, including one from an Icelandic musician. The year should have a little something for everyone to enjoy. Here are six exhibitions that we’re most looking forward to this year.

“for real though”

Seattle-based multidisciplinary artist Barry Johnson has provided the city with many wonderful works over the years. You may have caught Johnson’s tribute to Quincy Jones at the Museum of Pop Culture or seen his work in the form of a sculpture of artist James W. Washington Jr. outside of the Central District’s Midtown Square building, a building that also features Johnson’s work in the form of colorful paneling on its side. Johnson’s solo exhibition with Winston Wächter Fine Art Seattle will spotlight a new series of paintings featuring subjects, often self-portraits, lounging in living rooms. The subjects gaze at or beyond the viewer, as if in the midst of a conversation.

Jan. 12-Feb. 25; Winston Wächter Fine Art Seattle, 203 Dexter Ave. N., Seattle; seattle.winstonwachter.com

“Abstract Truth”

Cornish College of the Arts professor emeritus Preston Wadley will present his most comprehensive solo exhibition to date at the Bellevue Arts Museum. The exhibition will feature art books and photographs by Wadley, focusing on themes of race, identity, local history and the history of photography. Wadley encourages visitors to engage with his work, which serves as evidence of change and as reflection on an ever-evolving present.

Feb. 24-Oct. 8; Bellevue Arts Museum, 510 Bellevue Way N.E., Bellevue; bellevuearts.org

“Ikat: A World of Compelling Cloth”

This upcoming exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum will showcase the art of ikat textiles, a unique and complex textile created with great dedication and skill. The process involves carefully tying and dyeing individual threads to create patterns and designs. Over 100 ikat examples will be on display in the exhibition, including pieces from the museum’s collection. The exhibition will include an experience that allows visitors to walk into an ikat, as devised by Rowland Ricketts and Chinami Ricketts, as well as a hands-on component teaching visitors how to distinguish original ikat textiles from mass-produced adaptations.

March 9-May 29, Seattle Art Museum, 1300 First Ave., Seattle; seattleartmuseum.org

“[untitled] artwork”

Jónsi (Jón Þór Birgisson), lead singer of the Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós, is creating a new immersive artwork that will be presented at the National Nordic Museum. The work, which will be the focus of Jónsi’s first museum exhibition in the United States, will transport visitors to the ocean with changing environmental conditions, the scent of seaweed and a darkened gallery filled with mist and fog. By engaging the senses of visitors, the exhibition seeks to highlight the natural connection of the coastal cities of Seattle and Reykjavík, and it will feature music composed specifically for the installation.

March 17-July 30; National Nordic Museum, 2655 N.W. Market St., Seattle; nordicmuseum.org

“Kelly Akashi: Formations”

Los Angeles-based artist Kelly Akashi is known for her hybrid works that blend traditional craft techniques with contemporary materials and concepts. This exhibition at the Frye Art Museum, Akashi’s first major exhibition, will highlight a range of her work, including glass and cast bronze objects, multipart sculptural installations and photographic work. Akashi will also showcase a new commission, “Conjoined Tumbleweeds,” a bronze cast of intertwined plants collected from the former site of an incarceration camp for Japanese Americans during World War II. In the fall, Akashi’s work will again be on view, this time at the Henry Art Gallery where Akashi will present a new body of work (Sept. 30-Feb. 24, 2024).

June 17-Aug. 31; Frye Art Museum, 704 Terry Ave., Seattle; fryemuseum.org

“Raúl de Nieves”

Brooklyn-based artist Raúl de Nieves will be creating a site-specific installation at the Henry Art Gallery that looks to transform a gallery into a container of colored light. De Nieves’ work typically combines the aesthetic traditions of Mexican craft, queer club culture and religious iconography. Here, he will create a series of faux stained-glass story panels that will span the museum’s south gallery, creating a kaleidoscopic atmosphere. Periodically during the run of the exhibition, the Henry will host performances that will fill the space with sound, movement and costumes, creating a sort of communal ritual experience. 

Sept. 30-Sept. 1, 2024; Henry Art Gallery, 15th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 41st Street, Seattle; henryart.org

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