Theres surely no more arts-oriented community than Eureka Springs, a longtime Ozarks vacation destination filled with gorgeous Victorian architecture and dozens of art galleries.
Most of the businesses in this mountain town are open only in spring and summer. From November or December to March or April, many of the city’s restaurants, galleries and tourist destinations go dark.
But during the rest of the year, you can usually find some kind of music — be it a drum circle, live music or ballroom dancing — in Basin Spring Park (4 Spring St.). The Eureka Springs Auditorium (36 S. Main St.), built in 1928 and known as The Aud, has hosted such national talents as Randy Newman, Little Feat, B.B. King and Richie Havens. Its calendar in December is filled with holiday performances. Chelsea’s Corner Cafe & Bar (10 Mountain St.) is a good spot to catch live music from local and regional talent. The Melonlight Ballroom (2 Pine St.) hosts concerts and yoga and a range of dance classes, from ballroom to Latin, swing to country.
No trip to Eureka is complete — especially for architecture aficionados — without a visit to Thorncrown Chapel (U.S. Highway 62 West), designed by world-renowned architect and Arkansas native E. Fay Jones. Thorncrown was listed among the American Institute of Architects’ top 10 buildings of the 20th century. St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church is another architectural marvel. The Spanish-style building was constructed in 1909 and is open for visitation during the day; it once made it into “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not” as one of the only churches one enters through its bell tower. If you want to learn about Eureka Springs’ unique history — and there’s plenty of it; the city was founded in 1879 — visit the Eureka Springs Historical Museum (95 S. Main St.).
For those looking to learn a craft, Eureka Springs School of the Arts (15751 U.S. Hwy. 62) offers dozens of classes on everything from woodworking to jewelry making to “the art of mud” (see more on page 30). Red Scottie Fibers, inside Fleece ’N Flax (51 Spring St.), gives knitting, crocheting and weaving classes.
Shop handmade one-of-a-kind retro looks and modern essentials at Regalia Handmade Clothing Studio (16 White St.). Owner and designer Mark Hughes offers gorgeous, flattering patterns in a variety of patterned and plain linen. Find seasonal produce, baked goods, jellies, jams, cheese and more at the year-round Eureka Springs Farmers Market (44 W. Van Buren St.).
Brews (2 Pine St.) is the place to get coffee and Arkansas-brewed beer. Spice things up with Mundi Sauce, a family business based in Eureka that specializes in uniquely flavored small batch hot sauces using only Arkansas farmers’ ingredients. Two Dumb Dames Chocolate Store (33 S. Main St.) has been stocking Eureka Springs with handmade fudge, saltwater taffy and specialty chocolates since 1980. Relax on the patio overlooking the vineyards at Railway Winery and Vineyards (4937 State Highway 187), a family-owned winery near the historic Beaver Bridge and beautiful Table Rock Lake. Or check out art while you taste Keels Creek Winery’s Signature Red (3185 E. Van Buren).
On the second Saturday of the month, April through November, galleries in Eureka Springs stay open after hours to welcome guests, show new work and offer refreshments. Experience a gallery stroll, or stop in on a visit to delve into the rich Eureka art world. Here are a few galleries to consider: 85 Spring Street Gallery (85 Spring St.), Eureka Fine Art Gallery (2 Pine St., Ste. Y), Fantasy & Stone (63 Spring St., The Green Gourd (12 Center St.), Iris at Basin Park (8 Spring St.), J.A. Nelson Gallery (37 Spring St.), The Jewel Box (40 Spring St.), Keels Creek Winery & Gallery (3185 E. Van Buren), Quicksilver Gallery (73 Spring St.), Sacred Earth Gallery (15817 U.S. Hwy. 62 W.) Serendipity at the Crescent Hotel (75 Prospect Ave.), Studio 62 (335 W. Van Buren St.), Zark’s Fine Art Gallery (67 Spring St.).
To fly up and over Crescent Drive in Eureka Springs and get a bird’s eye view of the Crescent Hotel, or watch the mist roll into an Ozarks valley, or see the Christ of the Ozarks jump from two dimensions into three, all you need to do is download an app. The near-magic smart phone app was created by photographer Edward C. Robison III, 42, owner of Eureka’s Sacred Earth Gallery and the technological wizard behind “Eureka Springs — An Augmented Reality Project,” a 48-page hardcover book that lifts the sights and landscapes of Eureka Springs off the page and into a virtual third dimension. Robison, whose primary occupation is nature photography and whose commercial work includes special projects for Bass Pro Shop’s Johnny Morris and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, was inspired to experiment with photo augmentation after he saw his son with a simple device to look at black-and-white pictures in 3D. Robison launched a Kickstarter campaign, developed an app — which he said required a “combination of coding and game development” that he learned from watching internet videos — and, after five months of creating three-dimensional models and time-lapse photos with thousands of photographs, he could publish pictures that move. Robison has also applied the technology and developed a special app to time-travel in Basin Park, where he’s created and installed 12 interactive panels that animate historical photographs to show the passage of time; the project was commissioned by Eureka Springs’ Historic Commission. Robison, a Kansas native who moved to Eureka Springs with his wife, artist Janalee Robison, and son a decade ago (the time it takes to become accepted as a “Eurekan,” Robison said), said he was drawn to the Ozarks by its beauty, a source for his highly saturated color images of the Buffalo River and its bluffs and other landscapes. Robison has also published “Ozark Landscapes — An Augmented Reality Project,” (which is almost sold out). Robison’s gallery, Sacred Earth Studio at 15817 U.S. Highway 62, is open by appointment or when the Robisons are working there. Robison is also showing his photography, from traditional to augmented, at the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum in May. The reception is 5-7 p.m. May 9, and he’ll lecture from 6-7 p.m. May 1. The show runs through Sept. 1. — Leslie Newell Peacock