There’s more beauty in New Smyrna Beach than just delightful beaches and serene wildlife sanctuaries. This is not just a beach town; it’s an artsy beach town. For a long time, the area has attracted artists inspired by the peaceful natural surroundings to come make art. And as a result, there’s so much creativity to be explored.
The New Smyrna Beach Arts Trail is a wonderful way to check out this exciting art scene. Along the way, you can stop in galleries, art studios, and museums that showcase what all of the local artists are up to. From ceramic pottery to Plein Air paintings, there’s no shortage of talent here. And the best part is finding some complimentary wine while you’re at it!
The Atlantic Center for the Arts is one of the main reasons the town is such a hub for the arts. The ACA is a breathtaking artists-in-residence facility that serves as a nesting ground for master artists. Located on 69 acres of ecological preserve on the Turnbull Bay, the ACA breathes inspiration into artists from all over the world who come to relax and create.
The architecture of the center alone is enough to stir any creative mind, as it so easily mixes rustic with modern. Wooden boardwalks lead visitors through the wild green vegetation and connect gorgeous cedar buildings where the artists live and work. The exhibitions and performances that take place here are worth checking out.
Another stop on the trail will take you to Arts on Douglas, a commercial gallery in affiliation with the ACA. This gallery is dedicated to showcasing the work of artists specifically from Florida and takes on a much different vibe. Located in an old warehouse that was once a 1920’s Ford showroom, the building serves as a blank canvas for experimental art from a wide range of genres.
Inside Arts on Douglas, you’ll also find the alt_space gallery. That’s correct – you read that right! The innovation is not only on their name… this is where you can see some of the most experimental art around since it is dedicated to that. They highlight site-specific installations, digital media, sculpture, conceptual art, and other unique processes that are intended to get the conversation rolling about "coloring outside the lines."
A unique turn on the trail takes you to Clay Gallery, another location whose setting alone will take your breath away. This quaint gallery and studio lay amongst a lush garden space so beautiful that it is often the setting for weddings and events. The studio here is home to Teresa Bowen, the talented potter who is well known for her stunning work. The gallery showcases the pottery, stained glass, and paintings of other local artists as well.
Now let’s talk about fine art in town, shall we? Jane’s Art Center is a fabulously curated fine art gallery with both permanent and rotating exhibitions from acclaimed artists. And right next door, Jane’s Clay Studio serves as a community resource to educate the public, specifically in the field of ceramics.
Oh, and here’s a stop that you don’t have to be an artist to appreciate. The Bob Ross Art Workshop is dedicated to the one and only oil painter, Bob Ross. This gallery carries original paintings that he created on his infamous show, “The Joy of Painting”, and also offers classes where you can learn how to paint just like he did.
Finally, the trail brings us to The Hub on Canal, a huge incubator for up-and-coming artists. Located right on Canal Street, a bustling part of New Smyrna Beach, this building hosts the work of over 70 artists. It gives them a home to showcase their work, educate the public, and hold classes or workshops. This center is a huge community resource since it is focused on supporting the economic growth of all artists in the area. One way that they do this is by offering scholarship programs and classes to underserved communities.
While you may not be able to hit everything on this list on one visit, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. New Smyrna Beach is constantly bringing in new art for visitors to admire, and plenty more to take home. And if you ask me, that's better than anything you’ll find in your typical beach town gift shop.