How To Discover Art In Your City
by Sarah Kaplan
Most of us assume art is reserved only for a museum. While museums are truly amazing places to admire curated collections from known artists, there’s plenty of art to be enjoyed all around you. Bonus: it’s free and available 24/7. Appreciating art can tangibly improve mental health, helping us quiet distractions, inspire creativity and manage stress and anxiety, among other proven benefits. It’s all out there for your enjoyment… you just need to know where to look.
We’ve spent years exploring art all over the world, in both expected and unexpected places. Along the way, we’ve discovered four tips to help you find hidden gems of public art right in your own city.
Where to discover art
Murals as an art form have been around since 30000 BC, with good reason. Urban areas are filled with walls and other large-scale structures that are the perfect canvas for creativity. Most US cities began having murals painted in the 20th century to simply beautify otherwise bland spaces and provide work for artists, but more contemporary murals often focus on subjects meaningful to the artist and the artist’s community, making statements about social, political, and historical themes. The sheer scale of this art makes it unique and impossible to confine to a museum, and we love the untamed spirit behind that.
Every mural is an opportunity to pause, think, and analyse. Often a simple google search will lead you to lists of murals around your hometown and bonus points, there are often mural walking tours. A few suggestions to check out are the Camden High Street neighbourhood in London, the Mission District in San Fransisco and the Downtown Arts District in LA. Bring a friend along for the opportunity to share something meaningful about your city.
Public Parks and Sculpture Gardens
Have you ever been on a walk and suddenly stumbled across something unexpected? A 90-foot-tall wooden spire, maybe or giant rabbit? Public parks, both smaller community spaces and sometimes larger national parks, are great places to discover new artists. Many installations also change regularly, so things never get boring. These installations showcase a huge variety of different mediums and sometimes are designed to be interactive. It’s a great way to bring visibility to local art talents that may not have made it big yet, or to student artists building their portfolios, and it’s a unique way to connect art to daily community life and the natural world. Some of the coolest, most unusual artwork we’ve come across have been in public parks. We recommend the Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park in Raleigh, NC, and the National Gallery Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C.
Galleries are great places to admire art from smaller, often still-living artists. It’s also an opportunity to support them if you’re in a position to buy original artwork. Most galleries are fine with people just coming to browse, and gallery staff are often eager to talk about the art, so it’s an opportunity to learn and gain a backstory you wouldn’t otherwise know from just looking. Sometimes the artists themselves will have events at the gallery, which is a rare opportunity to meet the creators behind the work. We recommend walking along the Chelsea West neighbourhood in New York. Don't forget to look out for gallery art walk events in your city for opportunities, like the ones in the Wynwood district of Miami.
Hit the shops
In stores, you’ll often find unexpected gems this way, and, if the art is for sale, it’s typically much more affordable than art you’d see in a gallery. But keep your mind open while you’re there, and remember that art comes in a variety of forms. Look out for unexpected art mediums such as pottery, textiles, and of course, jewellery. We recommend Chosen in Charlotte, NC, and of course the three flagship Wolf & Badger stores in LA, NYC, and London that can provide unexpected artisan finds.
Pablo Picasso once said that “art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Art offers us a break from everyday life to recharge our energy, reconnect with our emotions and get creative inspiration to then fuel that same everyday life. We hope these tips lead to a new artistic view of your hometown. Now that you know, plan a solo adventure or invite a friend or two, and discover the art that is meaningful to you. It’s easier to find than you think.
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