Meet The Small American Towns Rivaling Big Cities Art Experiences

Small town USA revolutionized the modern art scene. Forget overpriced metropolises like New York and Chicago for discovering the freshest contemporary art. The real magic lies within these charming, lesser-known havens. 

Benicia California

Benicia serves as a mecca for bay area artists. First Street abounds with galleries and public art displays, which the city promotes during summer art walk events.

The non-profit Arts Benicia promotes local artists to the community. The organization regularly puts out open calls for new works to feature in their over-rotating exhibitions while providing classes on drawing, painting, photography, and more to help residents or guests engage with their creative sides.

Columbia Missouri

Expect the unexpected in Columbia, Missouri. Over 150 artists call the North Village Arts District home, showcasing their works in studios and galleries open to the public.

The city created the Office of Cultural Affairs to promote the artistic talent developing within its borders and highlight the creative endeavors of the region’s history. The organization preserves the vast array of public art on display throughout the city and even offers an online gallery to make the work accessible to all.

In conjunction with The University of Missouri-Columbia, the city also features museums preserving historical art from the region. The Museum of Anthropology focuses on native cultures, celebrating human expression from over 11,000 years ago to the early days of the US. The Museum of Art and Archeology features over 16,000 objects spanning 6,000 years of history across continents. Although both are temporarily closed pending movement to new locations, they’re slated to reopen this year, and the online exhibitions remain available to the public. 

Dublin Ohio

You don’t need to cross the Atlantic to find a Dublin celebrating arts and culture. Ohio’s Dublin has grown its Art in Public Places program to include over 70 sculptural elements and installations throughout the city.

The Dublin Arts Council actively promotes the city’s artistic expression, using art to enhance the lives of its residents and put Dublin on the map for visitors. The council provides a year-long visual art series showcasing gallery exhibitions by local, regional, and international artists, and the new Art & Wellness initiative seeks to explore how the nature of art can nurture personal and community well-being.

Edmonds Washington

Washington honored Edmonds by naming it the first Certified Creative District in the state, a distinction awarded to towns that are great places to live, work, and visit. 

The Town features two art centers and nearly twenty large-format murals, managed by Art Walk Edmonds, which also hosts a series of art and wine walks.

In addition, Edmonds is home to the Cascadia Art Museum, a nonprofit proudly preserving and displaying the art of the American Northwest from 1870-1970. The regional focus helps visitors engage with the unique history and culture cultivated in one of the nation’s last frontiers.

Hamilton Ohio

Hamilton, OH, claims the honorific “City of Sculpture.” Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum spans over 300 acres and holds over 70 statues highlighting modern and contemporary sculpture. The indoor museum features works spanning time and geography, with pieces dating to 1550 BC.

The city boasts over 40 additional sculptures scattered throughout and numerous murals and utility box paintings. It supports the Fitton Center for Creative Arts, which offers rotating exhibits featuring the best from local, national, and international artists while providing community outreach and educational programs.

 Johnson City Tennessee

Johnson City’s Public Art Committee aims to enhance the livability and creative identity of the town through arts-based public engagement. The committee installed numerous murals, sculptures, traffic wraps, banners, and artistic infrastructure throughout the city, available for visitors to enjoy at their leisure.

Johnson City strives to make art more accessible. It hosts sculpture exhibitions, art festivals, and other art programs throughout the year and promotes the Wildabout Walkabout Scavenger Hunt, which turns art appreciation into a game. The hunt gives players clues to help them discover the bronze sculptures hidden throughout downtown the downtown area.  

Laredo Texas

Laredo competes with massive cities like Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio, for Texan tourism, but the flourishing art scene should put Laredo on any traveler’s radar. 

Laredo’s thriving cultural district welcomes artists and visitors alike, showcasing a diverse range of creative expression, from painting to theater. CultivArte Laredo offers workshops and educational programs to empower local artists, while the sprinkling of art galleries showcases the immense body of work created both within the city and beyond its borders.

Leesburg Virginia

Leesburg, Virginia, the heart of Loudon County, lies about 50 minutes outside of Washington, DC, but it’s worth the trip to explore contemporary arts amidst a historic colonial backdrop.

Tourists can enjoy Loudoun’s public art tours, highlighting the best murals, sculptures, and statues on display throughout the city, or explore the impressive colonial architecture via a historic walking tour. 

The Loudoun Museum features works from prominent local artisans, past and present, and educational displays highlighting the region’s history.

Loveland Colorado

Loveland features over 500 public art displays throughout the city and three foundries, making it a hot spot for sculpture work. 

Colorado’s Sweetheart City boasts the Benson Sculpture Garden, renowned as one of the world’s 200 most important modern and contemporary art sites and one of the 20 must-see contemporary art sites in the United States. It also promotes the City with the HeART Program, an installation of 36 five-foot hearts hidden throughout the city, each sponsored and designed by a different artist.

Pittsfield Massachusetts

Pittsfield claims a long history of supporting artistic expression. Herman Melville wrote the literary masterpiece Moby Dick at his home, Arrowhead, which the city transformed into a small museum and artistic haven for history and literary buffs alike.

All of the creative arts flourish in Pittsfield. The Lichtenstein Center for the Arts hosts exhibits, workshops, performances, and readings celebrating art and artists of all forms, and the historic Colonial Theatre, the stage for Berkshire Theatre Group, often debuts Broadway plays before they hit theaters in New York City.

Strasburg Virginia

The small town nestled on the Shenandoah River’s North Fork has a long history of supporting the arts.  Colonial potters settled in the area, creating utilitarian stoneware and artistic earthenware from the abundant river clays.

Today, Strasburg celebrates its history as a pot town while looking toward the future. The Strasburg Museum showcases the region’s rich cultural heritage, featuring a collection of works by potters from the village’s founding through the Civil War era. The non-profit Staufferstadt Arts works tirelessly to encourage local artists and re-ignite the region’s creativity with murals located throughout the city. 

Woodstock Georgia

Head on down to Georgia’s Woodstock for an unexpected yet delightful art experience. The town celebrates art in all forms, from music to theater to visual arts.

Woodstock Arts, a non-profit organization, drives the city’s artistic development with a vision to provide theater, visual arts, music, and dance experiences to city residents and visitors alike.

Woodstock Arts cultivates a lively theater season, producing plays and musicals celebrating the impact of theater on individuals and communities, and hosts a Summer Concert Series featuring a mix of popular bands, tribute bands, and new artists. Their Lantern Series brings artists representing various genres from around the world to highlight common threads found in forms spanning cultures and generations. 

Consider These Small Towns for an Immersive Art Experience

These small towns prove that art travel isn’t limited to big cities. Travelers would do well to consider a journey off the beaten path to small-town USA to immerse themselves in contemporary art.  

This article was produced and syndicated by Media Decision