By Megan Eileen McDonough Photo Credit: MOCA Jacksonville
This season, fall in love with Jacksonville’s astounding visual and fine art scenes. From the popular Art Walk in Downtown to music halls, museum exhibitions, public art murals and live theater, art is literally all around you. Channel your inner Warhol and explore, discover and appreciate the many immersive experiences for local art lovers—Jacksonville style.
Downtown Art Walk
Every first Wednesday of the month, downtown Jacksonville transforms into an art mecca. From 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., more than 40 businesses open their doors to the public as part of the Jacksonville Downtown Art Walk. Stroll 15 blocks at your leisure along Laura Street from Adams Street to Jacksonville Landing, and find yourself immersed in a sea of self-expression and street performers. Don’t miss Food Truck Village in the Regions Bank parking lot for your fix of gourmet grub on the go.
Art Walk After Dark
Get ready to color outside the lines. After Downtown Art Walk, stick around for Art Walk After Dark. The self-guided tour kicks off at 9 p.m. in The Elbow, Jacksonville’s premier entertainment district, and goes until late. It’s centered around the historic Florida Theatre, and spans eight restaurants and nine bars (with three more openings coming this year). Every month there's a new theme to keep things fresh, making the Downtown Art Walk and Art Walk After Dark the best way to paint the town red on a Wednesday.
Riverside Arts Market
Calling all shoppers. If your discerning taste always has you on the lookout for the next artisan specialty or farm-to-table goods, then swing by Riverside Arts Market. Every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., more than 200 artists, musicians and farmers gather under the Fuller Warren Bridge to showcase their homegrown goods, handmade products and talents to more than 7,500 visitors. Show your local sustainable communities support by indulging in fresh foods from the farmstand while humming along to the live music and entertainment with the whole family for a lovely day along the banks of the St. Johns River.
CoRK Arts District
One of the most cutting-edge art scenes in Jax is the CoRK Arts District, a spacious warehouse spanning 80,000 square feet of art studios and galleries on the corner of Roselle and King streets. Besides hosting regular events for the public, the warehouse serves as a workspace for local artists and a live showcase for gallery owners. Since artists are usually hard at work, be sure to set up an appointment or stop by during one of their regularly schedule events (check the calendar). Coming soon? A live music venue. Cheers to that!
Sculptures are meant to be admired, and Jacksonville has 13 life-sized sculptures standing square in Main Street Park. Sculpture Walk goers are invited to scan Quick Response (QR) codes that are located on the base of each for a unique perspective behind each one. There's something new with every code, including some exclusive videos featuring the artists themselves. Learn the source of their inspiration and the inner workings of their creative process.
1904 Music Hall
The 1904 Music Hall is one of Jacksonville's most beloved live entertainment venues and its 2,000-square-foot outdoor courtyard with a view of the Jacksonville skyline is a good reason why. You’re encouraged to stop by for the expansive beer and wine selection and to stay for the music. It’s the perfect spot to unwind after a day exploring the city. Drop by for open mic night every Monday for a little self-expression of your own.
Live theater via the FSCJ Artist Series
New York isn't the only city where you can see top-tier off-Broadway performances; there are plenty of live theater productions happening right here in Jacksonville. The FSCJ Artist Series is the area's premier presenter of touring attractions ranging from musicals and plays to concerts. There are two main venues, so take your pick: the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts downtown and the Nathan H. Wilson Center for the Arts.
After you've soaked up some history at the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, splurge on a decadent lunch at NOLA MOCA. Serving high-quality, freshly made dishes, the presentation is so impressive that it almost feels like its own exhibit at the museum. The menu changes seasonally, so come with an open mind and a big appetite. It’s even open late on Thursdays and on the first Wednesday of the month, during Art Walk.
Art is everywhere in Jacksonville, where public art space abounds at the heart of the city’s creative culture. Whether it’s the classic masterpieces at the Cummer Museum or the contemporary works at MOCA, whatever your fancy, the experience is often as inspiring as the art itself.