Ever since I first started working with Rachel Gallaher on her story in this issue about the new art school taking shape at Western Neon, I’ve been seeing neon everywhere—on the street, on TV, in high-end advertising. Neon is definitely trending, but its surging popularity feels deeper than that. Decades into the digital revolution, long past the point of no return, life in pixels has a lot of us longing for the physical world, for slower and simpler times, for anachronistic things like vinyl records and, yes, neon signs.
Artifacts of bygone days can soothe modern anxieties and, in an increasingly unmoored era, history can be a guide. This month, Gemma Wilson dives deep into the thrilling underworld of cabaret, recalling its instructive political origins in 19th-century Europe and its evolution since. As she describes, many forms of cabaret are thriving in Seattle today, each of them redrawing the edges of expectation, courage and understanding in their own timely ways.
You’ll find an emphasis on history laced throughout this issue, but nowhere more crucially than in Jonathan Cunningham’s expansive story about the immense effort by artists and arts organizations to stem the cultural losses caused by gentrification and save the soul of the Central District. Cunningham interviewed dozens of people while reporting this story over the last couple of months and found a determined hopefulness about the future of the neighborhood. In that optimism dwells an indispensable appreciation for the past as it illuminates a way forward.
See you out there,
Editor in Chief