It’s a Visual Thing

Why art lovers fall head over heels for Florida’s Historic Coast.

September 8, 2021

St. Augustine is no doubt one of the most beautiful cities in the country. From its terra cotta roofs and balconies cascading with bougainvillea to its quaint brick-lined streets and stunning water views, it’s no wonder artists are drawn to it. Historically a haven for painters--going back to the Henry Flagler years--today Florida’s Historic Coast attracts those who simply appreciate the visual arts.

Of course, you can’t miss the gem of art collections in the ancient city at the Lightner Museum. Housed in the former Alcazar Hotel, built by Henry Flagler, the building itself is a feast for the eyes. Be sure to catch their current exhibition of artists from the local area as well as the popular impressionism collection, stained glass window exhibit and also check on upcoming exhibitions. A short walk from the Lightner is the Crisp-Ellert Art Museum, currently featuring “Mirages,” a collection of work by contemporary artists exploring art and meaning through an inventive transformation of materials and objects.

And it’s not just museums. There’s art everywhere you look. Start with a First Friday Art Walk. That’s when the Art Galleries of St. Augustine open their doors and welcome visitors with refreshments and some live music to accompany their new exhibits of fine art by local and national artists of all genres. From Aviles and Charlotte streets in the Historic District to Uptown and Anastasia Island, you’ll discover a thriving art community in converted garages, quaint shops and collectives. Complimentary shuttle service (except December and January) makes the journey even more delightful.

If it’s original works of art that you’re looking to purchase for yourself or someone special, you’ll discover lots of treasures at the beach. We’re talking about the Art Walk Shop & Dine at the Beach, of course. Just in time for the holidays, the St. Johns County Ocean Pier Park and all along Beach Boulevard will be lined with works by local artists and artisans. Stroll along the avenue and find a piece that speaks to you from paintings and prints to pottery and photography and jewelry, all created locally. Held on November 27 from 3 - 8 p.m.

Speaking of treasures, you’re sure to find something special at First Look, The Artisans Market. This collective of local artisans offers everything from paintings to glasswork, woodwork and much more. They’re also happy to tell you about their creative process as you browse among the aisles. Conveniently located on San Marco Avenue across from the Old Jail.