"Love," I said. Someone was asking me about The Stranger's Genius Awards. "They're about love," I told her.

I understand why some people don't understand this. The Stranger has a nearly nonexistent relationship with unabashed praise. Until three years ago, that is, when it dawned on us to pause the hating, pool our resources, and heap some love—and money, and cake—on the visual artists, theater artists, writers, filmmakers, and organizations that startle and excite us and make Seattle interesting.

The Genius Awards are a culmination of a year's worth of our paying attention to the city. And it's been a great year. We've never had a stronger lineup—a trio of artists who take art out of art contexts, a theater performer with unerring instincts, an underappreciated writer of masterpieces, a visionary in Northwest filmmaking, and a museum in the midst of a reinvention. All of these winners are profiled in the following pages. All of them get cash awards of $5,000. And thanks to the incredible support of Art Patch, all of them get a multimedia party in their honor this Saturday at Seattle Art Museum, featuring their assorted works of genius, a full bar, and live music by the Helio Sequence and Voyager One. The party is free, open to the public, and starts at 9:00 p.m. It's not the kind of thing you want to miss. —Christopher Frizzelle