Many art collectors have favorite galleries. They either love the art and artists the gallery represents or they’ve forged strong personal and professional relationships over time with the owners and directors of the gallery. They’ll patronize that gallery no matter where it’s located because of the bonds and mutual interests they share.
However, people new to art or an area often look for knots or aggregations of galleries so that they can sample a wide array of artistic genres, personas and temperaments during a single jaunt. And in addition to art, they demand shopping, entertainment and dining opportunities that will elevate their fine art outing into a day trip or overnight excursion.
This ilk of gallery-goer is interested in quantity as well as quality.
This type of gallery guest is looking for an art district – an area where they can delight in fine art, fine dining, shopping and perhaps a little theater or sightseeing all within walking distance of each other.
Like Miami on the east coast, Southwest Floridians are fortunate to have a number of such destinations they can visit all within less than an hour’s drive. While there are pockets of galleries and art studios in places like Marco Island, Sanibel, Captiva Island, Matlacha, Cape Coral, Bonita Springs, Naples’ Taylor and Jasper Roads and Trade Center Way, Southwest Florida residents and visitors can visit three bona fide art districts: the downtown Fort Myers River District, Naples’ Fifth Avenue, and the Third Street South shopping district that includes fabled Gallery Row.
Each offers an ambiance, amenities and a sensibility that is distinctly its own. Once the stomping ground of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone, the River District is the place for avant-garde, leading edge art in the tradition of favorite son Robert Rauschenberg. Fifth Avenue is the place for the masters of yesterday and unique artworks from Africa, Belize, Haiti and the Caribbean. Third Street South and Gallery Row is the spot for contemporary art ranging from the new wave of geometric and abstract expressionist to impressionists, realists and primitivists.
While these three art districts may not yet rival Miami’s famed Wynwood, Bird Road or Coral Gables art districts in sheer numbers, their quality and imagination have led Southwest Florida to be twice voted as the number 1 small art market in the entire United States. Shouldn’t you plan a day trip or lengthier excursion to them in order to find out why?
Part 2 of this series will tell you why a trek to the downtown Fort Myers River District is an absolute must.