GetSocial

Top 25 Mid-Size Cities

May 2010 | BY | Issue 72, Summer 2010

1. St. Petersburg, Fla.

World-renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly will present his work at the Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg, Fla.

In the gold position for the first time, the Sunshine City can now boast about more than its standard 360 days of sun a year. The arts are everywhere in St. Petersburg, from world-renowned institutions, such as the under-construction Salvador Dali Museum (opening Jan. 11, 2011) and the newly expanded Museum of Fine Arts, to the private art galleries that line its downtown streets. Resident Melody Delaney notes, “St. Petersburg has a unique and vibrant arts scene. Whether it be visual or performance art, the city deserves more credit than it’s often given.” With the community’s continuing strides in developing its art scene, St. Pete could enjoy a place at the top for years to come.

An example of the commitment to grow its artistic influence can be seen in the expansion and presentation of a new permanent exhibit at the Morean Arts Center. Beginning July 4, the Morean will present a gallery of works by famed glass artist Dale Chihuly. The “Chihuly Collection,” featured at the center’s new 10,000-square-foot space, will present works from throughout the glass pioneer’s career. Along with this collection, the Morean will also be opening a 4,000-square-foot Glass Studio & Hot Shop that will provide furnaces, kilns, studio space and seating for visitors to watch glass artists at work. Opening in early June, this exciting addition is expected to be a new home to artists across the state.

2. New Orleans, La.

Shannon Landis Hansen’s “Still Standing” is one of the 19 commissions completed by New Orleans artists who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

The Big Easy moseyed its way into the top three for the first time since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The runner-up has worked hard to revitalize the city after the disaster, and art has made a considerable impact on the new New Orleans. “Artists were the first to return to our city after Katrina,” says Lindsay Glatz, director of marketing and communications for the Arts Council of New Orleans. Upon their return, the art scene grew and expanded, as it continues to do five years later. Reader Sharon Fronabarger of New Hope, Pa., states, “New Orleans is more than a place to go for partying and great food; it is also a center for art and music.”

In order to beautify areas affected by Hurricane Katrina, the Arts Council of New Orleans, funded by the Joan Mitchell Foundation, created the “Art in Public Places” program. Twenty artists working in different mediums each received $25,000 to create original artwork and help rebuild their artistic careers. Aimed specifically at artists from Louisiana and Mississippi, the program has inspired many works with themes of hope, such as Shannon Landis Hansen’s “Still Standing,” and pieces honoring nature’s powers, like Sally Heller’s “Scrap House.” The 19 completed commissions have become a fixture in New Orleans.

3. Alexandria, Va.

Artist and Art League instructor Fred Markham participated in “Paint” Alexandria 2009. Credit: Erica Fortwengler

A newcomer to the top five, the historic city of Alexandria has recently been getting noticed as an arts destination. Located across the Potomac River just six miles from Washington, D.C., the city is making a name for itself with art festivals, events and galleries. “There is art everywhere—outdoors in the parks and streets, museums that are free or low cost, a multitude of galleries and, of course, the wonderful Torpedo Factory,” says resident Mary Anne Weber. “Art is woven into the fabric of everyday life.”

On June 19, The Art League, a nonprofit visual arts organization and school, presents “Paint” Alexandria 2010. This annual, free event is for artists and art lovers of all mediums, backgrounds and skill levels. The plein air affair allows visitors to explore and interpret Alexandria’s oldest and most historic district with guidance from Art League instructors. Over the day, there will be numerous sessions where artists can participate as much or as little as they please, while the general public is encouraged to watch them at work.

4. Chattanooga, Tenn.

“Jellies: A Living Art” is at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga through May 2011.

Chattanooga is a city that simply lives and breathes art. Formerly referred to as the “dirtiest city in America,” the Scenic City has made a huge effort to clean up its image, with the help of artists. “Chattanooga has made wonderful strides in supporting and advancing the arts in a mid-size city,” says Jenny Shugart of her hometown. “It is a good example of what other cities its size can do to promote the arts.” Through ArtsMove, an artist relocation program, artists have been transforming formerly abandoned buildings into new galleries and studios. With three distinct arts districts in the city, there is something for everyone.

The Hunter Museum of American Art and the Tennessee Aquarium have come together to showcase jellyfish alongside amazing glass sculptures they inspired. “Jellies: A Living Art” presents the work of four acclaimed glass artists, plus six species of jellyfish, at the aquarium through May 2011. Guests can admire the works while listening to artists describe their pieces in an audio tour. Linked to the aquarium by a corridor, the Hunter Museum offers more glass art, featuring the work of 28 additional glass artists in their exhibit “Transformations 6” through Oct. 24.

5. Buffalo, N.Y.

464 Gallery in Buffalo, N.Y. Credit: Marcus L. Wise

Buffalo, an AmericanStyle readers’ favorite, proves that the Big Apple isn’t the only arts destination in New York State. “Buffalo ranks at the top for contemporary art,” admires reader Marilyn Suzan of Jamaica, N.Y. “The Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo Arts Studios, and a wide range of galleries are the vehicles for expression of art in various mediums. Artistic expression is appreciated, respected and encouraged at all levels in Buffalo.” With more than 50 public and private galleries, art centers and museums, Buffalo’s list of amenities goes on and on.

In the past year, the number of art galleries and venues has continued to grow with the opening of four new art spaces in the city. Many of them are artist-run, like Sugar City and Nobody’s Art Center—exhibition spaces that offer art, music, readings and workshops, or created by a crop of young entrepreneurs, such as The Vault, an art space featuring shows and figure-drawing workshops. Other galleries are taking advantage of this movement and expanding. Marcus Wise opened 464 Gallery in 2009 to carry work by local artists, and this May opened an additional exhibition space, Blink, in the building next door.

6. Savannah, Ga.
7. Charleston, S.C.
8. Scottsdale, Ariz.
9. Pittsburgh, Pa.
10. Ann Arbor, Mich.
11. Tampa, Fla.
12. Miami, Fla.
13. Salt Lake City, Utah
14. Cleveland, Ohio
15. Minneapolis, Minn.
16. Providence, R.I.
17. Colorado Springs, Colo.
18. Athens, Ga.
19. Rochester, N.Y.
20. Cincinnati, Ohio
21. Raleigh, N.C.
22. Kansas City, Mo.
23. St. Louis, Mo.
24. Honolulu, Hawaii
25. Tacoma, Wash.

21 Responses to “Top 25 Mid-Size Cities”

  1. Thank you to AmericanStyle and it readers for selecting Chattanooga.

    ArtsMove, the Hunter and Aquarium are only the tip of the iceberg for the arts in Chattanooga.

    The NorthShore, Southside and Bluff View are all packed with galleries of all like and manner (for every taste and price range) and the City of Chattanooga has a strong public art program.

    And the city supports numerous festivals and markets, including the Chattanooga Market, 4 Bridges Art Festival, Who-Fest, Art ’til Dark, Faux Bridges and the One Bridge Folk Art Fest.

  2. Mellenie Runion on May 19, 2010 @ 11:25 AM

    Thank you AmericanStyle Magazine, we are thrilled to be on the list. Our city continues to grow, but we still maintain that small home town charm, deep history, and colorful arts.

  3. Cheryl McGary on May 19, 2010 @ 6:33 PM

    Chattanooga’s natural beauty inspires the artist in me ( song writing ). I never cease to be in awe when I see the panoramic view of our City while driving home. The Chattanooga Symphony & Orchestra are wonderful to me as well. In my opinion ( for what it’s worth) Chattanooga is a great place for an artist to live. I Praise God that I live here.

  4. I agree with David Smotherman; the Hunter and the Aquarium in Chattanooga are great places to start, but don’t think that’s all there is to see. Stop by one of the galleries on the North Shore and ask for the “gallery hop” poster. Local arts organization AVA has an annual event and produces enough map flyers to keep them around all year, and they’re very helpful for finding all the various independent galleries around town.

  5. We’re happy that our own Athens, Georgia is on the list! Visionary Growth Gallery and Farm is the longest running Athens independent gallery (17 years). We feature local, regional and national artists, and additionally we combine shows of established professional artists with artists with disabilities. We also have the world’s largest collection of works by legendary folk artists Annie Wellborn and Carter Wellborn. All this in a gallery on a hill on a working farm just outside Athens, GA. Ya’ll come! http://www.VisGrow.com

  6. We’re happy that our own Athens, Georgia is on the list! Visionary Growth Gallery and Farm is the longest running Athens independent gallery (17 years). We feature local, regional and national artists, and additionally we combine shows of established professional artists with artists with disabilities. We also have the world’s largest collection of works by legendary folk artists Annie Wellborn and Carter Wellborn. All this in a gallery on a hill on a working farm just outside Athens, GA. Ya’ll come! VisGrow.com

  7. Jessica B on May 21, 2010 @ 8:56 AM

    Thank you so much for choosing Buffalo, NY to be in Top Five for three years in a row! It great that we are finally getting some positive media recognition for all the hard work we’ve been doing to make this a wonderful city. Now if we could only get rid of our “snow capital of the world” moniker… wishful thinking.

  8. As a St. Pete resident i’m extremely excited to see us make number one on this list. I have to agree that everytime I go downtown it seems like a new museum or art venue is under construction. Totally surprising despite the state of our local economy. For anyone that plans to visit soon, make it your business to check out the waterfront Museum of Fine Arts. You can still smell the fresh paint…lol

  9. What a great list of cities, As a Realtor in the Athens area I’m excited to see the city on the list. There is such a vibrant artist community in the city and in smaller communities beyond. Music is often a major attraction though there are a lot of other artistic attractions. One of my favorite things about the city other than music is the southern eclectic charm that you find in many older and well renovated historic homes. Thanks for including Athens though I think we deserved a higher ranking :)

  10. As a St. Pete resident i’m extremely excited to see us make number one on this list. I have to agree that everytime I go downtown it seems like a new museum or art venue is under construction. Totally surprising despite the state of our local economy. For anyone that plans to visit soon, make it your business to check out the waterfront Museum of Fine Arts. You can still smell the fresh paint…lol

  11. Buffalo is and continues to be a great place to live. “Too much snow?” Bring it. I’d take that over many other unforseen natural disasters. Bottom line for me: I am fortunate to bring up children in a town overflowing with cultural priorities.

  12. kristie ortiz on February 21, 2011 @ 5:00 AM

    I had the opportunity to view the street art this weekend in Saint pete. and the art and vibe was terriffic.

  13. Its an interesting list. I really enjoy Scottsdale, AZ and was happy to find it listed. The USA has so many great places to live.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Tweets that mention AmericanStyle Magazine | Top 25 Mid-Size Cities -- Topsy.com
  2. St Petersburg #1 mid size city - Tampa Bay - Florida (FL) -Tampa - St. Petersburg - Clearwater - City-Data Forum
  3. St Petersburg #1 mid size city - Tampa Bay - Florida (FL) -Tampa - St. Petersburg - Clearwater - City-Data Forum
  4. Why we love St. Pete – The Arts | The Rent Depot's Blog
  5. Why We Believe in Buffalo and Why You Should Too « ArrowGram
  6. Chihuly Collection Coming to St. Petersburg | Smith and Associates Blog
  7. DC’s unexpected gem: Fashion Boutiques in Old Town Alexandria | i spy things DC
  8. Other Scottsdale Arizona Recognition and Rankings Capital Realty

Leave a Reply

Our Affiliates

Philadelphia Invitational Furniture Show

Troy Brook Visions

Designs for Tranquility

L'Attitude Art & Sculpture Gallery

Boca Raton Museum of Art

Pismo Fine Art Glass Pinnacle Gallery
The Art School at Old Church Sedona Arts Festival
Leaflines Lela Art Crystal

Free Newsletter

Sign Up Here!
Get news from AmericanStyle magazine delivered directly to your inbox. Be the first to know about web-exclusive content, giveaways, contests and more!