The very expression of a soul's spark is found in the arts of every form. A painting has the ability to make you dive deeper into your thoughts. A sculpture draws your hand to its form and your heart to the moment of creation. Music stirs those embers into a swirling fury of sparks and dance. Art has the ability to make us laugh, cry, think, mourn, and rejoice. It is life. In Edmonds, it is found in every moment of life.
Art is in everything and everyone, from the artists who live and create here, to the children who jump in the bronze dinghy (“Beach Launch” by Robert Cooke) and laugh with their bronze playmates. It’s in the musicians who practice and perform street-side or in the restored school’s historic theater, to the leaders who ensure the arts are funded, celebrated, and recognized. Edmonds was awarded Washington State’s first Creative District designation for a reason.
In the visual arts, Edmonds is blessed with nearly a dozen galleries, outdoor murals, and sculptures depicting our relationship to the earth and to each other. Andy Eccleshall’s mural across the side of The Papery is a sweeping depiction of pre-colonization Edmonds and the Coast Salish people’s relationship to it. “A Mother’s Love” was commissioned by the Mural Project Edmonds, its first piece to come to fruition. Artist Jake Wagoner was inspired by the mother and calf orcas of the J pod. Art, he said, can have “a deeper meaning that would help change the world.”
There are 35 permanent sculptural installations and 203 two- and three-dimensional indoor artworks in public spaces. Even the local garden club gets in on the action, bringing color and form to the hanging garden baskets and street corner plantings.
Edmonds is blessed with the Cascadia Art Museum, a thoughtful and important institution that displays permanent and temporary installations of Northwest artists’ works from 1860-1970. Come have coffee with the curator or enjoy Music in the Museum.
Visit in the summer when you can see the annual Edmonds Arts Festival, or every third Thursday for Art Walk Edmonds’ gallery tour.
In the musical and performing arts, the Edmonds Center for the Arts (ECA) takes centerstage. The 700-stage theater boasts a line-up of national acts: Aaron Neville, Arlo Guthrie, Bruce Hornsby, Cowboy Junkies, Indigo Girls, Jake Shimabukuro, Joan Baez, Lily Tomlin, Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, and Buddy Guy, just for starters. ECA Executive Director Joe McIalwain remains in awe at their success.
“It’s just been a great, great ride,” McIalwain said. Even with the pandemic, the ECA continues to host virtual and livestream events. The arts enrich us in good times and sustain us in bad times.
The ECA curates a performing arts and concert series of approximately 30 artists each season, as well as hosting 130 events produced by local and regional performing arts organizations and community partners. Those partners include the Cascade Symphony Orchestra and the Olympic Ballet Theatre. The town also is entertained and provoked to deeper thinking by two independent theater groups, Driftwood Players and Phoenix Theater.
And what city the size of Edmonds has two independent bookshops? It’s testimony to the commitment to art, literary arts included, of its citizens that Edmonds can support two bookshops. Not only that, but the annual fall writers conference, Write on the Sound, brings nationally recognized writers in to teach and support the work of independent writers in the region. Both the shops and the conference provide plenty of fuel for literary artists to feel inspired and for readers to become engaged.
While you’re feeding your soul, feed your body. The culinary and liquid arts here are the West Coast’s best-kept secret. The Edmonds food scene is rising to an astonishing level of achievement, as chefs play with local ingredients in bold ways.
There isn’t any town or city in this county that can boast more restaurants, more upscale eateries, or more ethnic diversity in its culinary scene. Caribbean? Mexican? Thai? Asian? Fusion Anything? Just show up in Edmonds – it’s all here.
In the Ethnic Eats department, many are setting trends in the diverse culinary arts, with an exciting mix of the known and unknown. The International District is stocked with Chinese and Korean restaurants.
A distillery, brewery, tap house, bottleshop, and wine cellar bring people together at the end of the day.
It’s all here…every kind of art that has the ability to stir your soul, make you think, and give cause for celebration. Treat yourself to Edmonds.