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.
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.
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.