This week I wanted to blog about some of the great establishments and opportunities to check out that are geared towards the art and shopping scene. Downtown Hot Springs has a multitude of great shops and stores that carry some very unique pieces of art for your viewing pleasure, including the popular Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA).If you know me, then you know that a day of art and shopping isn’t my idea of a perfect day (if you catch my drift), but after spending the day at the MOCA and hopping around different shops in the downtown area, I clocked out from work pleased with what I discovered…

 The MOCA is a fairly new establishment moving into the newly renovated Ozark building on historic bathhouse row in 2009. The MOCA features art from many new artists from around the world as well as numerous works from big names that are recognizable throughout the globe. The major exhibits in the museum change quarterly, with something new coming in every few weeks or so. One of the major exhibits this quarter is a very distinguished name in photography, Ansel Adams. Adams was a master photographer of the American landscape from the 1920′s through the 1950′s. The museum displays 50 photographs by the legendary photographer, which in my humble opinion are actually pretty awesome to look at. Other big names displayed in the museum include Garcia (figurative expressionism), L.M. Chan (leather sculpture), Renzo (lucid realism), and even early sketchings from Rembrandt.

The MOCA is fairly small in size in terms of square footage, it took me around 30-45 min to walk through it, but maximizes the amount of art it displays despite the small amount of space. As I alluded to earlier, I did enjoy going through the MOCA and looking at the different art (the sculptures were my favorite). If you’re an art lover and in the area, you have to make the MOCA one of your stops.

The MOCA isn’t the only artist’s haven in the city however, the downtown area in the Spa City contains many galleries and shops that hold unique and often local art for your viewing pleasure, most of which is for sale. Some of the different galleries include the Fine Art gallery and the Blue Moon gallery, located right next to each other. I walked through both of these places and found many unique and local works from around the city. If I had some extra money to  spend, I would definitely go downtown and buy up some of the art in these shops. The fact that most of the artwork is from local artists in the area makes it that much more appealing.

Another thing to check out is the gallery walk that is held on the first Friday of every month. The gallery walk is a great time where you get a chance to stroll through the different art galleries downtown, with cheese and wine tasting stations set up throughout, and also get a chance to chat with the artists who also turn out for the event.

Overall, Hot Springs has a vibrant and enlivening art community with many opportunities to check out art in its varying forms. I, not being an art person, still found the chances to check out different works from big names to local artists enticing. So, I would definitely recommend checking out the MOCA and downtown galleries to anyone who has any interest in art and also to those of you who are simply looking for something fun to do in downtown Hot Springs.

Contact: MOCA -(501) 609-9966, www.museumofcontemporaryart.com, Blue Moon Art Gallery -(501) 318-2787 www.bluemoonartgallery.com

Location: MOCA -425 Central Ave, 71901, Blue Moon Art Gallery -718 Central Ave, 71901

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