The Arts in Bradenton, FL
Our best friends, The Clevengers, spend a couple of months each year along the Gulf Coast of Florida in Bradenton, and this year they’ve helped us decide that this trip will be an annual event! As former art teachers, they were excited to show us Bradenton’s impressive art scene. We started our artistic discovery admiring the public art along the Downtown Bradenton Riverwalk overlooking the Manatee River. There are historic murals, intricate mosaics, and pieces that appeal to all the senses like the Sound Dishes where your body serves as an instrument, creating unique sound effects as you pass by. Not to mention that downtown Bradenton serves as a farmer’s market on Saturdays and an event venue throughout the year.
Within walking distance is the Village of the Arts, an eclectic live-work community, home to galleries, studios, restaurants, and bakeries housed in colorfully restored 1920s & 1930s historic bungalows. We were lucky to be there for the First Friday Artwalk and loved meeting the artists and listening to live music in such a festive setting. It was also a pleasure to visit The Studio at Gulf and Pine on Anna Maria Island with beautiful exhibits, classes, and art in all forms.
Inspired to Create
After experiencing so much art, we were inspired to create our own and the Bradenton Area has plenty of opportunities for that! The ArtCenter Manatee hosts 350 classes a year, with everything from watercolor to jewelry-making to kids’ classes, along with a gorgeous Artists’ Market where we were happy to support local artists. Shiny Fish Emporium on Anna Maria Island offers another chance to shop eclectic treasures and offers sand-dollars that you can paint in the store! We all made our own while enjoying a treat of Hawaiian ice-cream bubbles.
Another opportunity not to miss is the Florida Maritime Museum Folk School in the Historic Fishing Village of Cortez, where skills in local culture and heritage crafts are taught. Classes include storytelling, cheese making, basket weaving, and more. We participated in a knot-tying class, and I am only sad I hadn’t learned this skill earlier. Such useful knowledge with ties to the daily life of the Florida commercial fishing industry. Lastly, for a totally off-the-wall, fun artistic experience we took a “Painting with a Fish” class at Waterline Resort. It is exactly as the name suggests, you create your own nautical fish rub and use it to print a beautiful fish image.