The outdoor art of Gainesville, Florida
By Joe Kukura
Extravagant outdoor public art displays help give Gainesville, Florida, its unique vitality, charm and character. Gainesville serves as the unofficial capital of north-central Florida’s cultural community, with a vibrant arts scene rich with theater, music and visual arts. In fact, you literally can’t walk down the street in Gainesville without seeing some terrific art. The city’s Art in Public Places program ensures that Gainesville’s parks and streets form a pioneering cultural hub and a treat to visit for any fan of the arts.
Public art and sculptures are found all around Gainesville, adding a fun and free element to the city’s personality. Outdoor facilities at art museums are open year-round thanks to Gainesville’s wonderful weather. And some of its greatest art comes around at large annual outdoor art festivals. Let’s take a look at what you’ll want to take a look at when visiting the engaging and inviting city of Gainesville.Artwalk Gainesville
A free fling on the last Friday night of every month, Artwalk Gainesville
brings out the best of Gainesville’s galleries and shops for a fun outdoor experience featuring music, food, live performances and of course a sensational lineup of art. The event even produces new walking maps for every month’s Artwalk to help you see your way around the sights.Gainesville Solar Walk
A public art display like no other, the Gainesville Solar Walk
creates a 4 billion-to-1 scale model of the solar system that allows viewers to walk among the stars in a nearly mile-long art exhibit that is both visually spectacular and highly informative.Harn Museum of Art
The University of Florida’s in-house art museum, the Harn Museum of Art
, keeps many of its finest works outside the house. Enjoy spectacular art in the Florida sun with the Harn Museum’s outdoor exhibits that include many large-scale sculptures, a water garden path with bridges and waterfalls, and a renowned Asian Rock Garden.Public Art on the UF Campus
Works of public art are always popping up on the University of Florida’s Gainesville campus—and then the art gets nicknames from the students. Standing tall between UF's Marston Science Library and the computer sciences building is a large sculpture called Alachua
, commonly known as “French Fries
” due to its huge yellow steel beams. Last year, the same artist completed another large steel beam sculpture—this time painted red—called Big Max
; and a rounded sculpture called Sanctuary Sphere is affectionately known as “Mud Ball”.Downtown Festival & Art Show
The Downtown Festival & Art Show
is Gainesville’s biggest party, drawing more than 100,000 attendees each November for a sprawling free arts festival. Live performances run nonstop on multiple stages while thousands of artists set up shop to show their paintings, sculptures, photography and more.Thornebrook Art FestivalThornebrook Village
is a park-like shopping and dining center that transforms into a giant outdoor art gallery for the Thornebrook Art Festival each October. Art booths and food vendors galore turn the plaza into a first-class juried art show with plenty of live performances thrown in, too. If you can’t make it to the Thornebrook Art Festival in October, Thornebrook Village also holds an Uptown Art Hop
several times each year.
Make plans to soak in the fine art while soaking up some Florida sunshine in Gainesville, the city where there’s always an arty party!