New Smyrna Beach
Florida's Fabulous Arts & Artist Enclave
Though long recognized for its Atlantic seashore and Intracoastal recreational offerings, New Smyrna Beach's reputation as a high-quality art town has grown exceedingly notable of late. With roots planted in 1977, as home to a community of artists who gathered together to promote the arts and foster creativity in the New Smyrna Beach community, today it has blossomed into a destination lauded by author John Villani in his book: "The 100 Best Small Art Towns in America."
While not all residents of this Central Florida jewel are artists, New Smyrna Beach fosters an artistic spirit that inspires 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 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 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 downtown New Smyrna Beach.
Whether you want to view jewelry, sculpture, photography, mixed media, or paintings, you'll find it at Arts on Douglas. There is also a proactive 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.
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.
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. Always open to the public, the outdoor festival spreads along scenic Riverside Drive and through Riverside Park. In addition to the many artists' showcases, the festival features live music, hands-on children's art projects, and vendors selling tasty treats. There's also an exhibit where local students display 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 locals and visitors.
Growing up as one of six children in New Smyrna Beach, Rich Varano was only six when his dad introduced him to the art of sand sculpture. After years sculpting for SeaWorld, Varano today owns and manages Varano Sand Sculpture LLC, which has led him to every continent except Antarctica in his 31 years in the sand art business. As a "semi-retired" artist now, Varano said he hopes in the near future to start a sand sculpting event or festival in New Smyrna Beach to bring it back home to where his love for sand art started.
Raised in a small beach town in Florida, Becky Shiles has always been surrounded by the beauty of tropical flowers, birds and endless picturesque scenery to provide her with artistic inspiration. The ocean too provides her with an array of visual entertainment as well as purely peaceful therapy. You can find among her works of fish, feathered friends and flora, some acrylic...but mostly watercolors, her favorite medium to work in.
Karen Squillante and Michael Rosenzweig of Twisted K's Jewerly in Port Orange specialize in custom, hand-forged jewelry utilizing wire wrapping weaving, chemical etching and precious metal clay to create one-of-a-king earrings, ear cuffs, pendants, bracelets, necklaces, wedding jewelry and rings.
About New Smyrna Beach:
Quaint New Smyrna Beach possesses a hometown quality reflected in its architecture, 13 miles of pristine beach, recreational inland waterways, eclectic restaurant scene, and friendly community of residents. Accommodations here range from charming bed and breakfast inns, to family-size condominium units and oceanfront hotels. Named one of "America's Top Small Cities for The Arts," frequent arts shows featuring visual and performing arts take place throughout the year, as do Wine Walks, Antique Car Rallies, Seasonal Family Festivals, and Food Truck Caravans. Flagler Avenue and Canal Street feature quaint shops and sidewalk cafes. Many historical and cultural sites also make New Smyrna Beach -- established in 1768 -- noteworthy. From the Turnbull and Sugar Mill Ruins, to the Eldora State House and the Ponce Inlet lighthouse, the area is rich in history. It should be no surprise that the second oldest city in Florida is also home to many antique shopping pavilions. New Smyrna Beach Voted BEST BEACH in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 by readers of Orlando Sentinel! For more info call (386) 428-1600 or visit www.nsbfla.com.
- ADVERTISEMENT -