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New gallery's opening exhibit celebrates the good vibes of Bumbershoot

One Reel looks back as it hands off the Bumbershoot baton. #k5evening

SEATTLE — "Bumbershoot was the city coming together," said One Reel executive director Marty Griswold. "That's how it started and that's what it was always intended to be."

We're walking in a brand new gallery on Seattle's First Avenue called Public Display.Art where the first exhibit looks back at One Reel's signature contribution to Seattle culture, a music and arts fest named after a British slang term for the umbrella. 

Rolling Stone called Bumbershoot "the mother of all festivals," and for decades it was a music lover's paradise. A paradise for many of us, even if Labor Day Weekend didn't feel that way for the people behind the scenes.

"It was a nightmare from basically Thursday, sometimes Wednesday, through Monday and Tuesday," Griswold laughed.

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But this exhibit celebrates the good memories and good vibes Bumbershoot brought to the city. All of the posters are by local artists. Many of them are signed by the artists who performed onstage. They all bring back memories.

"Everybody says their first Bumbershoot is always like the best Bumbershoot ever, right?" Griswold asked.

In 1980 One Reel took over producing the fest, charging admission, and bringing major artists from all over the world.

"The 80s were really good actually," Griswold said.

Credit: One Reel
Bumbershoot crowd fills Key Arena in undated photo.

But when the music industry changed and artists could only earn a living by touring, costs went up and a festival that was once free cost more than $100 a day to attend.

"And it just kept getting more and more expensive," Griswold added.

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Now another local production company is taking over Bumbershoot so One Reel can focus on its original mission: bringing the arts directly to people through programs like "Pianos in the Park" and "Art Saves Me." On Tuesday night, One Reel received the 2022 Governor’s Arts & Heritage Award for Arts Organization of the Year.

"I'm so excited about what we're doing," Griswold said.

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