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Finding Art in Places Big and Small

Travel

Written by
Haley Shapley

From major metropolises to tiny towns, artsy locales know no size restrictions.

Photography by Casey Dunn

Rome

Population: 2.8 million

The scene: No matter what style of art you lean toward, there’s simply no question that Rome contains some of the world’s greatest artistic treasures. You’ll run into creativity nearly anywhere you go, but it’s worth getting a ticket to the Galleria Borghese, where you can see works from Caravaggio, Titian, Peter Paul Rubens and more. The sculptures from Gian Lorenzo Bernini are a highlight; Apollo and Daphne expertly captures a dramatic moment that you can feel unfolding in front of you.

Where to stay: The First Luxury Art Hotel Roma is a five-star spot close to the Spanish Steps, Piazza del Popolo and Via del Corso. The hotel’s contemporary art collection is curated by the nearby Galleria Mucciaccia, and each room is like a mini gallery.

 
 

Marfa

Photography by Casey Dunn

Population: 1,900

The scene: This tiny desert town in the middle of West Texas started its transformation into what it is today in the 1970s when artist Donald Judd moved here from NYC, acquiring a decommissioned military base that he turned into art spaces. Now you’ll find more than a dozen galleries, the largest of which is Ballroom Marfa. A hub of activity, the nonprofit is focused on visual arts, film, music and performance. Even the sky sports some artistry of its own, with the famed Marfa lights—mysterious glowing orbs that appear on the horizon outside of town.

Where to stay: The design-forward, minimalist Hotel Saint George includes 300 pieces of art throughout the property and houses the popular Marfa Book Co., which hosts readings, performances and exhibitions. 

 

Santa Fe

Population: 84,000

The scene: To say that New Mexico’s Santa Fe punches well above its weight class in art is a bit of an understatement—more art is sold here than in any other U.S. city, with the exception of New York and Los Angeles, quite a feat given its relatively small size. But one visit and it’s easy to see why. There are more than 200 galleries, and people flock from miles around for that classic southwestern aesthetic the city is known for. Find the highest concentration of art on Canyon Road, where a mile-long stretch buzzes with more than 100 galleries and artist studios. 

Where to stay: The art program at La Posada de Santa Fe began decades ago, back when the hotel was an art colony. The pieces are for sale, and if you find something you’d like to take home, you can pay a return visit to the resort at half price.

 

Valparaíso

Photography by Alex Otero

Population: 248,000

The scene: A Chilean seaside port town with colorful houses and steep hills, Valparaíso has long attracted artists and bohemian types. There are galleries and museums, but it’s the street art here that defines the city’s scene. You’ll stumble upon it while wandering the cobblestone streets, but if you’d like a little context, take a tour with Valpo Street Art Tours to learn all about the graffiti culture and visit some places you probably wouldn’t find on your own.

Where to stay: You can’t beat the views from the rooftop of Casa Galos Hotel & Lofts, where the design is modern, the staff is friendly and the location on Alegre Hill puts you in a prime spot for sightseeing.

 

Nelson

Population: 10,200

The scene: Thanks in large part to the Kootenay School of the Arts at Selkirk College, there’s a ton of artistic talent in Nelson, British Columbia. You’ll see it on display at places like the Craft Connection, a co-op that’s been in existence for three decades; Touchstones Nelson: Museum of Art and History, which highlights local talent in its art gallery; and Oxygen Art Centre, a renovated warehouse studio with classes, residencies and exhibition space.

Where to stay: The historic Hume Hotel & Spa property dates back to the 1890s and, as a result, oozes character. On-site, you’ll find multiple restaurant/bar venues (including a live jazz lounge) and an eco-conscious spa. Plus, the rooms were recently renovated and a full breakfast is included each morning.   

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