Yes, you read that right! It’s not just Gators country. The arts and culture scene in Gainesville, Florida is off the wall…literally!
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The urban art scene, in particular, permeates the college town, including an incredible murals project that can be seen and enjoyed throughout the city.
I know. When most of you think Florida, your mind drifts to beaches and turquoise, tropical waters. And while there is definitely a time and place for the beach, I guarantee that a trip to Gainesville can be a culturally rich experience.
Gainesville is smack dab in the middle of Florida, so it’s accessible from everywhere. The town offers fantastic museums, amazing theaters and tons of festivals. Calling all art and culture enthusiasts, Gainesville is where it’s at!
I have to start with the murals project. Ever since seeing what local artists did to the parking garage walls at the Z Lot in Detroit last year, I am in love with the idea of re-capturing urban spaces and allowing artists to express themselves, the result is a win-win for the city, its residents and visitors alike.
In Gainesville, the 352Walls (352 is the area code for Gainesville) project attracted artists from all over the world. Gainesville is partnering with local artists to transform the historic downtown walls into gorgeous public art canvases—so cool!
There is a hosted block party on Feb 26 (hurry, book now!) to celebrate the street art and cultural additions in their entirety, as it’s the only public mural or ‘street’ art display of its kind in the North Central Florida area.
It is worth a visit just to see these works. Although, given the fact that Gainesville has many festivals dedicated to food, culture and the arts, I’d likely coordinate a trip to be able to kill two birds with one stone. I can attend the Spring Arts Festival in April or the Downtown Festival & Art Show in November and be inspired by the vibrant splash of artistic expression while enjoying musical performances and browsing the local artwork.
There is no denying the presence and influence of the University of Florida. Their Gators have nationally ranked football, basketball and baseball teams. But if you look past the orange and blue of the athletic teams, you will see that the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, one of the largest university-affiliated museums, has lots to offer. It is well curated with rotating collections that are housed in a beautiful contemporary space. (Admission is free!)
Support for arts and culture run deep in Gainesville. In 1923, three very smart women created the Gainesville Fine Arts Association with a vision to foster and celebrate artists in the city. This organization offers wonderful workshops, exhibits, competitions, and galas and serves as another illustration as to just how wide, diverse and thriving the art and cultural scene in Gainesville is.
It is because of the long history of art, of dance, of the theater (there are two fantastic venues for live theater – the Hippodrome and the Gainesville Community Playhouse) that the urban art scene can thrive as well. There is an acceptance of the new with the old, the evolving and revolving—it is exciting to see! And while the 352Walls project is nearly at its end, a new project to wrap the electrical boxes in Downtown Gainesville with a mosaic-like artwork is planned—having enjoyed the painted electrical boxes near my home in Emeryville, I can tell you that this is fun to see.
That is just a small sampling of what is going on. I hope I have convinced you to consider a visit to Gainesville in the future. In the meantime, you can keep up with this dynamic town with an active art and cultural scene by following them on Facebook or Twitter.
How about you? Have you visited Gainesville? Do you have a recommendation? Do you think you want to plan a future visit? Do tell!