Best Underground Art Scenes in America

By Jessica Nunemaker

Artistic souls know where to travel for the latest and greatest in the art scene. Spoiler alert: the following destinations aren’t the big city names you expect. These smaller cities and towns boast close-knit creative communities you’ve got to experience to believe. 

Knoxville, Tennessee

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Stroll through its alleys for major creative inspo because Knoxville is all about graffiti. No tags or random messages here. Walk Strong Alley (Graffiti Alley) for amazing art that’s in your face and never boring.

Taos, New Mexico

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What happens when a wealthy woman encourages creative types to move in? A thriving arts scene. Ansel Adams and Georgia O’Keeffe even called Taos “home.” Must-see destinations include Taos Art Museum, Taos Artisans Cooperative Gallery, and the Taos Center for the Arts.

Marfa, Texas

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Marfa almost disappeared until the 1970s arrival of artist Donald Judd. Judd bought numerous buildings and turned them into minimalist art installations. Marfa may be one of the most unexpected (and exciting) destinations for minimalist art. Don’t miss the Chinati Foundation or Ballroom Marfa. 

New Bedford, Massachusetts

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Dozens of art museums, galleries, art shops, and architecture plus an annual Open Studios tour = an art extravaganza! With a slew of artists taking up residence, New Bedford keeps it fresh. Things get real on Second Thursdays with Downtown Cultural Night. 

Bozeman, Montana

Less than 50,000 people live in Bozeman but this small city has art galleries, artisans, and museums galore. Art Walks are on the second Friday of the month June- September and again in December for the “Winter” Art Walk in downtown Bozeman.

San Raphael, California

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Begin with Art Works Downtown, a 40,000 square-foot non-profit art center containing three galleries, thirty-seven art studios, jewelers guild, and more in the San Rafael Arts District. Enjoy public art installations, browse local artist’s work at Falkirk Cultural Center or catch AlterTheater Ensemble’s pop-up performances in the pedestrian shopping district.

Lubbock, Texas

Always creative, never flat. That’s a fitting slogan for a city with a designated cultural district crammed full of galleries and museums. From the public art collection off Broadway St. to the First Friday Art Trail to the annual Lubbock Arts Festival, Lubbock rocks the art scene.

Must Love Art

Sure, you can head to the same old art-centered destinations–but when have you ever done anything by the book? Try something different. Bonus: it might even cost you less while opening you up to a whole lot more. 

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