New Smyrna Beach Art Town
New Smyrna Beach, Florida Art Town
New Smyrna Beach, though famous for its seaside properties and beautiful ocean views, is also well known as a high quality art town. Since 1977, New Smyrna Beach has been home to a community of artists who gather together to promote the arts and foster creativity in the New Smyrna Beach community.
With the Atlantic Center for the Arts, the Clay Gallery, Arts on Douglas, Artists’ Workshop, Inc., The Hub, and several other galleries on Flagler Avenue on the beachside or in the Canal Street Historic District, New Smyrna Beach has made a name for itself on the national stage.
The Clay Gallery features and sells the works of over 60 local and national artists who specialize in pottery, jewelry, glass, wood, and painting. The secluded, lush tropical gardens behind the Clay Gallery provide a wonderful location to view local art, attend a special party, or host a wedding. Visitors also can watch Teresa Bowen and other pottery artists work in the 1,000-sq. ft. studio at the back of the garden.
Arts on Douglas Fine Art and Collectibles is another hometown gem for New Smyrna Beach residents. Originally a Ford auto showroom, the large commercial gallery now hosts a variety of Central Florida artists’ work and is updated often. Every first Saturday of the month, Arts on Douglas features a new art exhibit combined with an Art Walk with other galleries and shops in dowtown New Smyrna Beach.
Doris Leeper, a New Smyrna Beach artist and environmentalist, is the co-founder of Arts on Douglas and the founder of the nonprofit organization, Atlantic Center for the Arts (ACA). The ACA was birthed out of Leeper’s desire to create a quiet, beautiful space for artists to focus on their work. Founded in 1979, today’s ACA sits on 69-acres on the shores of Turnbull Bay. The space features a library, a theater, painting studios, sculpture studios, dance and music studios, and 12,000 square feet of artist workspace. The ACA encourages new artists through an opening reception for an artist’s solo exhibition. Whether you want to view jewelry, sculpture, photography, mixed media, or paintings, you’ll find it at Arts on Douglas.
There is also a pro active community outreach program through a variety of workshops and exhibitions, including educational classes for children and adults.
The organization also offers an Artists-in-Residence program that invites artists from all over the country to visit New Smyrna Beach and participate in a workshop for three weeks at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. The program, which began in 1982, is offered to a variety of visual, literary and performance artists. More than 360 Master Artists and 2,350 Associate Artists from
around the world have taken part in the program over the years.
A city can’t call itself an art town through galleries alone, however, and New Smyrna Beach is no exception. The annual IMAGES: A Festival of the Arts event showcases the work of more than 210 artists each year, and is attended by more than 35,000 people. For over 35 years, the festival has been held near historic Canal Street in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Always open to the public, the outdoor festival spreads along Riverside Drive and through gorgeous Riverside Park.
In addition to the many artists’ showcases, the festival features live music, hands-on children’s art projects, and a smorgasbord of tasty treats. There’s even an exhibit where local students can show off their latest creations. Dancers from all over the region also come to the festival to showcase their own styles of dancing, and to share their different cultures with New Smyrna Beach locals and visitors.
While not all residents of this Central Florida jewel are artists, New Smyrna Beach fosters an artistic spirit that inspires all its residents to live creatively in their own way, whether by visiting one of the many local galleries or by attending an ACA workshop. So, for artists and art lovers, New Smyrna Beach is a great place to visit or call home. With all New Smyrna Beach has to offer, it’s easy to see why author John Villani called it one of the “100 Best Small Art Town[s] in America.”