- The streets of downtown Eureka Springs take on a different look once a year for the Artrageous Parade, part of the annual May Festival of the Arts. Image copyright: www.rquickphotography.com.
I have a friend who says that Eureka Springs is whatever you want it to be,” says Jody Stephenson, co-owner of a local gallery named Studio 62. This might be the best way to describe Eureka Springs—it’s a place where you’ll find whatever it is you’re looking for.
Nestled in the heart of the Ozark Mountains in northwestern Arkansas, Eureka Springs has a history of healing. Native Americans believed that its spring water could cure many ailments. In the late 19th century, the mountain village was a spa resort, where the rich and stylish came for rest and relaxation. By the 1930s, Eureka Springs’ picturesque setting and creative energy had helped it gain a reputation as an artists’ colony. The 1960s brought devout Christians seeking the monumental Christ of the Ozarks statue, as well as counter-culture hippies looking for a peaceful place where individuality was celebrated.
Today, amid Victorian architecture and winding streets, evidence of the diversity of all the people who make up Eureka Springs’ rich history remains. More than 250 working artists live and work in the village, which draws around a million visitors each year. “This past year we have had artists move here from California, New Mexico, Louisiana and Mississippi,” says Steve Schmidt, founder of the Eureka Springs Artists Registry. “And those are just the ones I have met so far.”
Begin your tour on the north end of Main Street, at the edge of town. Across the street from the historic railroad station is Pale NDN Art (298 N. Main St., 479-981-1783), founded by Native American artist Rod Hamon. The working studio and gallery showcase Hamon’s work, as well as the work of a few friends, including sculpture, furniture and sterling silver jewelry.
Traveling farther into town, you’ll come up on Harris’ Art Garden & Gallery (184 N. Main St., 479-253-2090), which showcases one-of-a-kind metal sculptures and glass. Ask to see the garden. Across the street is The Art Colony (185 N. Main St.), a cluster of buildings where artists such as printmaker Jack Miller and fiber artist Jean Feltman create and share their work.
Continuing into town, stop in EureKan Art Studio & Shop (150 N. Main St., 479-253-0928), which represents more than 90 artists working in paint, sculpture, wood, glass and more. “The gallery is our way of giving back to the community that gave so much to us,” says artist Nancy Foggo, who owns the gallery with her husband Ken.
A couple of blocks farther up, near the intersection with Spring Street, the back wall of a city parking lot has been transformed into a popular art display. Now in its fourth year, “The Artery” is a living mural of 27 panels created by local artists around a common theme.
Turn up Spring Street for an array of galleries, restaurants and lodging choices. The Basin Park Hotel is home to Iris at the Basin Park (8 Spring St., 479-253-6164), an eclectic American fine art and craft gallery. Continue up the hill to Eureka Fine Art Company (78 Spring St., 479-253-6595). The 10,000-squarefoot space features the work of 150 local, regional and international two-dimensional artists, including Lisa Bauer and Denise Ryan.
Across the street is Zarks Gallery (67 Spring St., 479-253-2626), known for its collection of art glass, including masters such as Josh Simpson and Richard Satava. Owner Rick Armellini bought 40 acres in Eureka Springs in 1972, remembering the town from childhood family vacations. Quicksilver Gallery (73 Spring St., 479-253-7679) features earthy pottery, bronze sculptures, woodcarvings and studio jewelry. It’s a popular tourist destination for people in search of local art.
Jeweler Nancy Wines, who relocated from Northampton, Mass., in the 1970s, is the owner of The Jewel Box (77 Spring St., 479-253-7828), which showcases her own work, along with that of other artists. 83 Spring Street Gallery (83 Spring St., 888-215-1969) has the nation’s largest selection of bronzes by Mark Hopkins, including many rare and retired pieces.
Next, walk up the hill and take a couple of sharp turns to Regalia Handmade Clothing (128 Spring St., 479-253-2202). Working largely in linen, former costume designer Mark Hughes creates comfortable, casual women’s clothing.
At Mitchell’s Folly (130 Spring St., 479-253-7030), peruse the collection of antiques and fine art, including paintings by some of the artists who started the art colony in Eureka Springs in the first half of the 20th century.
Cross the street and walk past the Palace Hotel and Bath House (famous for the oldest neon sign west of the Mississippi) to Gryphon’s Roost Day Spa & Gallery (137 Spring St., 479-253-5667). Immerse yourself in the area’s holistic history with a massage or facial, then stay to browse the collection of jewelry and art.
A short drive, or trolley ride, to the top of the mountain brings you to breathtaking views and the historic 1886 Crescent Hotel. One of the area’s newest galleries, Serendipity at the Crescent (75 Prospect Ave., 479-253-2769) is located in the lobby. Founded by Rick and Iris Feutz, who also own Iris at the Basin Park, the gallery is a work of art in itself, with ceilings painted by local artist Cindy Galvin.
Before you leave the area, be sure to check out a few galleries off Highway 62, less than two miles from downtown Eureka Springs. Keels Creek Winery & Art Gallery (3185 E. Van Buren, 479-253-9463) has grown from a two-acre recreational vineyard to a 36-acre property with vineyards, a tasting room and a gallery representing 27 artists from Arkansas and its surrounding states. At Eureka Thyme (121 E. Van Buren, 479-363-9600), you’ll find one-of-a-kind items by local artists, including pottery, wooden tableware and gourd art.
At Studio 62 (335 W. Van Buren, 479-363-9209), you can meet painter Jody Stephenson, who opened the gallery with her husband, photographer Ron Lutz, in 2002. Whatever it is that brings people to Eureka Springs, they are sure to be struck by the natural beauty that has drawn people here for centuries, says Stephenson.
“That’s another plus for artists,” she says. “The opportunity to fully experience, and try to capture, the spectacular autumn foliage, the dazzling spring greens, the quiet gray of winter, and the bustle of summer tourism.”
Here’s a quick rundown of assorted galleries and hot spots for arts travelers to enjoy in Eureka Springs, Ark.
83 Spring Street Gallery
83 Spring St.
Has the nation’s largest selection of bronzes by Mark Hopkins, including many rare and retired pieces.
The Art Colony
185 N. Main St.
A cluster of buildings where artists create and share their work.
Eureka Fine Art Company
78 Spring St.
A 10,000-square-foot space featuring the work of 150 local, regional and international two-dimensional artists.
121 E. Van Buren
One-of-a-kind items by local artists, including pottery, wooden tableware and gourd art.
EureKan Art Studio & Shop
150 N. Main St.
www.eurekanart.com Represents more than 90 artists working in paint, sculpture, wood, glass and more.
Gryphon’s Roost Day Spa & Gallery
137 Spring St.
In addition to massages and facials, this spa offers an art and jewelry gallery space.
Harris’ Art Garden & Gallery
184 N. Main St.
Features one-of-a-kind metal sculptures as well as glass.
7 Center St.
The new home for Hurricane Katrina transplant Al Hooks, a photographer and artist.
Iris at the Basin Park
8 Spring St.
An eclectic American fine art and craft gallery.
The Jewel Box
77 Spring St.
Showcases jewelry by owner Nancy Wines, along with that of other artists.
Keels Creek Winery & Art Gallery
3185 E. Van Buren
A 36-acre property with vineyards, a tasting room and a gallery representing 27 artists from Arkansas and its surrounding states.
Main Stage Creative Community Center
67 N. Main St.
A nonprofit organization that provides arts programming and services for all ages.
Mel Shipley Studio & Gallery
87 Spring St.
Working studio of sculptor Mel Shipley.
130 Spring St.
Collection of antiques and fine art, including paintings by some of the artists who first started the art colony in Eureka Springs.
Mud Street Café
22 G S. Main St.
www.mudstreetcafe.com The back room of this restaurant doubles as a gallery of local artists’ work.
Pale NDN Art
298 N. Main St.
A working studio and gallery showcasing sculpture, furniture and sterling silver jewelry.
Regalia Handmade Clothing
128 Spring St.
www.regaliahandmade.Former costume designer Mark Hughes creates comfortable, casual women’s clothing.
Serendipity at the Crescent
75 Prospect Ave.
335 W. Van Buren
Paintings by Jody Stephenson and photography by Ron Lutz.
Susan Morrison’s Signature Gallery
60 Spring St.
Features the work of nationally known wildlife artist Susan Morrison.
Wilson & Wilson
23 Spring St.
Offering a variety of American folk art.
67 Spring St.
Known for its collection of art glass, including masters such as Josh Simpson and Richard Satava.