Top 25 Small Cities

1.   Asheville, NC

A rendering of the expanded Asheville Art Museum. Credit: Courtesy of the Asheville Art Museum
Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville offers the best of both worlds: breathtaking scenic beauty and a population that values creativity and work made by hand. “Asheville is funky, eclectic and rooted in generations of homespun crafts inspired by the surrounding mountain beauty,” says reader Dan Ward, of Weaverville, N.C. “The mountains make us whimsical, and whimsy fuels creativity.”

What’s New?

The renowned Asheville Art Museum has plans to double its size, with a groundbreaking anticipated for 2012. The expansion will hold its ever increasing collection—with the permanent collection exhibition space growing by 70 percent and a special changing exhibition space that will double.

Up and Coming

This summer three venues are individually hosting wood art exhibits, creating a “woodturning trifecta” for collectors. Blue Spiral 1 Gallery will feature a group exhibition with more than a dozen Southern woodworkers July 1 through Sept. 30. Grovewood Gallery will feature 19 woodturning artists from all over the U.S. July 1 through Oct. 2. And the North Carolina Arboretum is hosting an international exhibit of 45 of the world’s most outstanding wood artists until Sept. 5.
The Bele Chere Festival, one of the Southeast’s largest free outdoor festivals and a local favorite, stages its 33rd annual event in downtown Asheville July 29-31, with nearly 200,000 people expected to attend.

2.  Santa Fe NM

The Intuit Show of Folk and Outsider Art has partnered with SOFA WEST to showcase work by self-taught artists including Clifton Sulser, whose carved figures are show here.
Enjoy blue skies and sunny days? Looking for a destination rich in history, heritage and the arts? Then Santa Fe is the place for you. With more than 250 galleries and numerous museums, Santa Fe has what it takes to satisfy art lovers. Reader Joan Woodbury, of Salt Lake City, Utah, explains, “Santa Fe is lovely for the eyes, has incredible artists who produce meaningful work and provides intense experiences that have lasting impressions.”

What’s New?

The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture presents a significant collection of Huichol art from the early part of the last century in “Huichol Art and Culture: Balancing the World.” Running until Feb. 12. 2012, the exhibit features examples of ancient, symbolic textile designs, richly decorated votive gourd bowls, beaded jewelry and more.
“Artist of the Week—Docent Talks” take place every Wednesday now through Aug. 31 at the New Mexico Museum of Art. Artists displayed in the museum are featured in a series of gallery talks by docents of the New Mexico Museum of Art.

Up and Coming

Summer is art market season in Santa Fe. High on the list are Art Santa Fe which will celebrate its 11th year July 7-10 by providing a total experience that includes contemporary galleries from all over the world; Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, July 8-10, which attracts established traditional artists from across the globe to display, demonstrate and sell their work; SOFA WEST: Santa Fe & the Intuit Show of Folk and Outsider Art, Aug 4-7, a glittering array of international dealers showcasing contemporary decorative, non-traditional and outsider art; and the 90th annual Santa Fe Indian Market, Aug. 20-21.

3. Gloucester, Mass.

A newcomer to the Top 25 list, Gloucester is home to museums, galleries and the oldest working art colony in the U.S.Cape Ann, a thriving arts and cultural destination, lies just 30 miles north of Boston along one of the prettiest stretches of coastline in all of Massachusetts. Billed as one of the last great unspoiled places, its harbors, lighthouses, beaches, coves and coastline have been attracting artists almost from its beginnings in 1623.

Cape Ann’s four communities include Rockport, Essex, Manchester-by-the-Sea and Gloucester, America’s oldest seaport. “Art is vital to the lifeblood of Gloucester. There are many beautiful places with seashores and harbors but the combination of arts, culture, and industry are rarely so integrated and integral to the life of a city. It makes Gloucester a very unique place that celebrates art in a way that most cities can’t,” says resident and AmericanStyle reader Barbara Silberman. Gloucester is home to a large population of artists, many of whom display their work in Rocky Neck Art Colony galleries and studios. You can visit the Rocky Neck Gallery or enjoy open studios and entertainment during Nights on the Neck, on the first Thursday of the month from June to October.

What’s New?

This year an iconic red brick building on Gloucester’s Main Street, known to locals as “The Blackburn,” was transformed into The Cape Ann, also known as “The Annie.” The building was revitalized to promote the arts in the community and serves as a venue for performance and visual display. Located within The Annie is “The Art Parlour,” an expansive gallery space that allows local artists to show their work free of charge.

Up and Coming

The annual Cape Ann Artisans’ Studio Tour takes place June 18-19 along the scenic coastline of Gloucester and Rockport, allowing visitors to meet more than 15 professional artists and see their work where it was created.

The Annual Gloucester Waterfront Festival will showcase the juried work of over 175 artists and craftsmen from throughout the U.S. in the city’s historic Fort Park on Aug. 20-21.

4. Saugatuck, Mich.
5. Sarasota, Fla.
6. Sedona, Ariz.
7. Key West, Fla.
8. Frederick, Md.
9. Taos, N.M.
10. Bradenton, Fla.
11. Corning, N.Y.
12. Eureka Springs, Ark.
13. Brattleboro, Vt.
14. Berkeley Springs, W.Va.
15. Carmel, Calif.
16. Beaufort, S.C.
17. Burlington, Vt.
18. Naples, Fla.
19. Laguna Beach, Calif.
20. Chapel Hill, N.C.
21. Annapolis, Md.
22. Northampton, Mass.
23. Aspen, Colo.
24. New Hope, Pa.
25. Watkinsville, Ga.

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