Perhaps it’s the laid-back way of life or the inspiring natural beauty that calls so many artists to the First Coast of Florida. Dozens of art galleries and museums invite art lovers to peruse or purchase the ultimate souvenir. Here are a few of our favorites, from Amelia Island to St. Augustine.
Jacksonville's Museum of Contemporary Art represents a permanent collection of works from 1960 to the present including Alexander Calder, Helen Frankenthaler, James Rosenquist and Joan Mitchell. Don’t miss the amazing abstract expressionist works of Hans Hofmann on display until May 14. Also on site is the ever-popular NOLA restaurant, serving craft cocktails alongside gourmet salads, flatbreads, quiches and grilled cheeses. Dinner is served Thursday evenings and during Downtown Art Walk the first Wednesday of the month (Jan. 4, Feb. 1, March 1, April 5, May 3, June 7).
333 N. Laura St., Jacksonville
The Vault at 130
The owner of the popular clothing boutique The Snob has recently opened a beautiful new gallery in San Marco Square, a quaint Jacksonville neighborhood. Stop in and peruse high-quality works from local artists, from ceramics to oils to acrylics.
1930 San Marco Blvd., Jacksonville
Cutter and Cutter
This fine art gallery represents the works of local artists as well as limited-edition prints. You’ll find cityscapes, landscapes, portraits and still lifes. Don’t miss the stunning, 60 x 60 oil landscapes by Ramon Villanova. Upcoming artist events include Josef Kotes, Feb. 14-18, and Michael and Ines Garmash, March 24-25.
King St., St. Augustine and 333 Village Main St., Ponte Vedra Beach
Cummer Museum and Gardens
The second largest art museum in Florida is worth a visit. The museum’s impressive collection ranges from works dating back to 2100 BC through the Renaissance, Impressionists and Realists with such notable artists as Peter Paul Rubens, Thomas Moran, Norman Rockwell and Winslow Homer, who actually painted local scenes of the area. Stroll the gardens, designed by the Olmsted Brothers firm, to admire sculptures, a 200-year-old oak tree and stunning views of the St. Johns River. Free admission on Tuesdays.
829 Riverside Ave., Jacksonville
Art on Centre
It’s no surprise that the enchanting Victorian town of Fernandina Beach should attract so many artists. Running through the middle of town is Centre Street, with Amelia Island’s newest fine art and collectibles gallery showcasing paintings, sculpture, mixed media and glass. At 5:30 pm, the second Saturday of each month (Feb. 11, March 11, April 8 and May 13), 10 downtown galleries host an open house with artist meet and greets during Artrageous Artwalk.
503 Centre St., Fernandina Beach
Prominent Chicago publisher Otto Lightner donated his lifetime collection of art and antiques to the City of St. Augustine to run a museum in the former Hotel Alcazar. The building itself is a work of art, built by Henry Flagler and designed by Carrere and Hastings of the New York Public Library and the World’s Fair in Chicago. Visitors will find an eclectic mix of art, from beautiful glass works by Louis Comfort Tiffany and antiques from the brother of Napoleon Bonaparte to watercolors, oil paintings, painted-seashell sculptures and 5,000 salt and pepper shakers. Don't miss the Downton Abbey exhibit coming in October.
75 King St., St. Augustine
The Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach
This not-for-profit organization features spectacular artists in various media like hand-coiled pottery, abstract paintings, photography and tapestry. The center also hosts popular local events like dinners with artists, workshops open to the public, to "Culinary Talk" and "Taste from Chef Samuel Forbes of the Savory Market."
50 Executive Way, Ponte Vedra Beach