The Seattle Art Fair was the brainchild of billionaire Paul Allen, an avid art collector. He'd attended similar fairs in other parts of the world.
"It was a question he brought back to us," says Greg Bell, senior curator at Allen's company, Vulcan. "What can we do here in the city that would help us really appreciate the arts here?"
The answer: Allen started his own fair, in partnership with a national organization called Art Market Productions, producer of similar fairs around the country.
Now the second annual Seattle Art Fair fills the CenturyLink Field events center this weekend. Organizers hope to see more than 15,000 art lovers come to browse offerings from more than 80 galleries, many from outside the Northwest. The audience can also take in a full schedule of lectures, performances and other on-site art installations.
Kelly Freeman, director at Art Market Productions, says that in an era when brick-and-mortar art galleries are struggling, art fairs provide exposure and potential sales opportunities.
"I think art fairs provide this brief moment to get in front of some of the most influential people in the world," Freeman says. "If you can't have a brick-and-mortar space, you can still show your work among peers."
Last year more than 15,000 people attended the inaugural Seattle Art Fair – almost twice what organizers had expected.
The fair also inspired local curator Greg Lundgren to organize a major exhibition of Northwest artists, called Out of Sight, at the King Street Station in the International District.
This year Out of Sight returns to the historic train station, along with many performances and installations in the streets of Pioneer Square and the neighborhood surrounding CenturyLink Field.