The Hot Springs art scene is an exciting and eclectic mix of styles from contemporary to traditional. Wherever you are in the city, you’re only a short walk from a fine art gallery, a pop-up exhibit, or one of the city’s extensive public art pieces. The first Friday of each month is a special occasion, and galleries all around Hot Springs host openings of new exhibits for the monthly “Gallery Walk,” a local tradition for more than 33 years. For its efforts in promoting the arts, Hot Springs was named #4 among the 100 Best Art Towns in America!
Art galleries in Hot Springs feature artwork by local, regional, national and even international artists. Fine art and special events, including live painting by local artists, musicians, local author book readings and seasonal festivity, are what you can expect at the sophisticated Justus Fine Art Gallery. Some of The Natural State’s most talented artists are featured at Gallery Central, a popular spot all about variety.
Whittington Gallery Studios is a great place to see fine art in a casual atmosphere. They even offer art classes if you feel like making something yourself. The Circle Gallery at Emergent Arts features emerging artists exhibiting in a professional setting with themed exhibits. See works from various artists, including Thomas Kinkade, at American Art Gallery and Gifts, featuring pottery, woodturnings, sculpture and more. Artists Workshop Gallery is a fine art cooperative exhibiting original works of 30 local artists.
You can even enjoy art while you are dining. The Avenue, a fine dining restaurant adjacent to The Waters hotel features a different artist’s work each month on their gallery wall. The exhibit opens the last Sunday evening of each month with an Art & Wine Dinner, Kollective Coffee+Tea, an upscale coffee shop, which doubles as a gallery routinely featuring the work of a different artist and is also the home to Wednesday Night Poetry, a weekly poetry event that has been every Wednesday night for over 30 years.
A complete listing of the art galleries in town can be found on the Hot Springs Area Cultural Alliance website at hotspringsarts.org.
Hot Springs has a very strong mural scene, including a new mural on the side of Kollective Coffee + Tea by Canadian artist Danae Brissonnett.
Among the artists who have contributed to the murals in town is Italian artist Pepe Gake. He created the Quapaw Mural, inspired and dedicated to the first Native American inhabitants of the Valley of the Vapors, which is located in the heart of downtown just across from Bathhouse Row. He also contributed "Verna's Dream" (inspired by Garvan Gardens' beauty and magic), "Black Broadway" celebrating the African American history of Hot Springs located on Malvern Avenue, and finally the Sister City mural which features scenes from Hot Springs' Sister City Hanamaki, Japan. Another mural in town was inspired by the life of Harriet Tubman and created by Little Rock artist Perrion Hurd. Other murals can be found throughout town including one at Northwoods Trails.
The Theater is never the same twice, so surprise yourself when you’re in Hot Springs. An eccentric local stage that never ceases to delight, The Hot Springs Pocket Community Theatre will be the part of your trip you can’t stop talking about. Or for a show that will keep you on the edge of your seat, don’t miss Maxwell Blade at the Historic Malco Theatre.
The longest running all-documentary film festival in all of North America proudly calls Hot Springs home! The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival (HSDFF) is celebrating its 31st Anniversary and is an Oscar® qualifying festival for ‘Documentary Short Subject’ by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. With the help of a small staff and hundreds of volunteers, the film festival benefits the region by providing an affordable arts festival that offers the best in documentary film, educational panels and workshops, exposure to internationally acclaimed filmmakers, special guests, and access to some of the best special events in central Arkansas.
Some of the hottest music venues in Arkansas are right here in Hot Springs! Legendary night spot for more than a century, The Ohio Club has live music seven nights a week and the best drinks in town since prohibition (and during). Speaking of dubious reputations, Maxine’s Live is a fantastic venue named after an infamous Bathhouse Row brothel madam that boasts new music every weekend and a wicked Bloody Mary!
Prefer something a little more personal? The Big Chill is a laid back venue for songwriters and music lovers that feels like a house party. Copper Penny Pub is a great spot for great food and live music on a regular basis. The Legendary Vapors, a historically famous venue in Hot Springs, has been restored and now offers live performaces traveling from all over the World. The Central Theatre lends itself to a variety of shows & events including live music, theatrical performances and more! How about an upscale concert and white-tablecloth affair? You’ll find it in the lobby at the historic Arlington Hotel.
For a big and flashy concert experience, catch a show and the big game at Silk’s Bar and Grill inside Oaklawn Racing & Gaming. Some of the biggest names and events make a stop at the Bank OZK Arena, a huge local venue with seating for 6,000. And to see a show with the whole family, take a break from the rides and make your way to the Timberwood Amphitheater inside Magic Springs Theme and Water Park.
Hot Springs also has many well-known artists! Italian artist Benini helped spur the local art scene when he opened a gallery in town in the late 1980s. An Arkansas Living Treasure such as Kimbo Dryden of Dryden Pottery, Jim Larkin of Fox Pass Pottery, sculptor and painter Longhua Xu and egg artist Lorie Poppow.
Along with galleries there are many places in town to learn about or watch art being made. Among these is Riley Art Glass Studio, where one can watch these glassblowing artists in action. Also among the varied lineup is Fox Pass Pottery where Jim and Barbara Larkin create beautiful functional pottery in a low-key studio full of high-quality pieces. Forest Path Gallery, the studio and gallery for Gene Sparling, is not only a great place to see the woodworking of this talented artist, but the location is nestled in the woods where visitors often see deer or other creatures on the drive up to his studio. And, Dryden Pottery, which has been open for over 75 years is a must stop to see the third generation of this talented family create the colorful pottery for which they have been known for decades.