Hot Springs has enjoyed a stellar arts reputation solidified by its frequent inclusion as one of the 100 Best Small Art Towns in America.By Dwain Hebda
SEE & DO
Hot Springs celebrates the arts in several venues, which give its visitors plenty of options. No matter if you like fine art, music, architecture or film, there’s something for every taste here.
Visual arts are accentuated through a variety of community events, including summertime’s two-weeklong Hot Springs Music Festival, which welcomes more than 250 international musicians to town. In addition to performances, the event pairs world-class mentor musicians from major orchestras, chamber ensembles and conservatory facilities with talented pre-professional apprentices.
Another stalwart on the arts calendar is the Hot Springs JazzFest, the premier sponsored event of the Hot Springs Jazz Society. The three-day jazz event, held in late summer, welcomes local and nationally recognized performers.
Documentary film buffs from around the country flock to Hot Springs in the fall for the annual Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival. World premiere screenings, luminaries of the film world and special activities for children and families are all highlights of the event.
The underground art movement in the Spa City is garnering lots of attention with excellent year-round programming. Low Key Arts (118 Arbor St.) is a 501c3 public art organization that produces original, forwardthinking music and art productions and educational opportunities for the public. Low Key will host “Arkansas Shorts—A Night of Short Film” on Jan. 6 at the newly renovated Malco Theatre. In March, hear an amazing lineup of music at The Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival.
Experience the art of gardening through the breathtaking Garvan Woodland Gardens (550 Arkridge Road). In addition to year-around horticultural interest, the gardens host a variety of events such as photography exhibits and workshops for a variety of artisans.
The most unique items are to be found in the city’s historic district downtown. Grab a snack at the Savory Pantry (214 Central Ave.) filled with delicious local and regional gourmet jams, jellies, sauces, mixes and more. Pick up a trendy souvenier at State & Pride Provisions Co. (518 Central Ave.) where you’ll find Arkansas-themed and some locally made T-shirts, art, jewelry and more.
See what intoxicating aromas are being mixed at Bathhouse Soapery & Caldarium (366 Central Ave.), know for luxurious handmade soaps, bath salts and other pampering products.
EAT & DRINK
Hot Springs is poised to make a name for itself in beer, with a burgeoning craft scene. Superior Bathhouse Brewery (329 Central Ave.) was the first brewery to be located inside a national park. Look for a taproom for Bubba’s Brews, brewed 15 miles away in Bonnerdale, as well as a satellite location of Core Public House, serving their brews made in Springdale, to open in downtown Hot Springs in the spring. You must experience the famed mineral water while visiting Hot Springs—either fill a jug at one of the public water fountains or buy some prebottled at the Mountain Valley Spring Water (150 Central Ave.) headquarters. Just off downtown, experience what national publications agree is one of the best pizzerias in America, DeLuca’s Pizzeria Napoletana. Brooklyn, NY transplant Anthony Valinoti (407 Park Ave.) turns out delicious pies made largely from locally sourced ingredients, each one handmade by the master himself.
More than two dozen art galleries line the streets of downtown Hot Springs, on ready display during the Gallery Walks held the first Friday evening of every month. Here are a few to check out!
American Art Gallery
724 Central Ave.
Artists’ Workshop Gallery
610A Central Ave.
Fox Pass Pottery
379 Fox Pass
Gallery Central Fine Art
800 Central Avenue
Justus Fine Art Gallery
827 A Central Ave.
Legacy Fine Art
804 Central Ave.
Ozark Bathhouse Cultural Center
491 Central Ave.
Riley Art Glass Studio
710 W. Grand Ave.
501-318 - 6193
Forest Path Gallery
107 Stillmeadow Lane
MEET THE MAKER
It’s not many artists who have the backbone to do what they please, when they please. But Wayne Summerhill is not many artists, either. “I enjoy designing pieces and making them happen,” said the decorated veteran, biker and sculptor. “I don’t create for anyone else, so there’s no pressure. I do enjoy others’ response to my art, but it doesn’t influence me one way or the other for the next piece.” Summerhill returned from Vietnam in 1970 with a chestful of medals—Infantry Combat Badge, Bronze Star and Distinguished Flying Cross among them—and a desire to create. He got into painting and five years later started creating threedimensional metal sculptures. And he’s been at it ever since.
“If I weren’t able to create, I would probably lose my sanity,” he said. “It’s a part of me, like breathing. I really don’t have a choice but to create.” Summerhill came to Hot Springs from Memphis in 2005 and his work has been shown in galleries (locally, at Blue Moon Gallery), as well as several public spaces. He’s also got pieces in Hard Rock Café. For the past six years, he’s taught his techniques to sculpture students at Eureka Springs School of the Arts, while extolling them to follow their own muse.
“I want my art to make people think,” he said. “If I create a piece that means something to me, it usually means something totally different to everyone else. Most of what I do comes from an emotion. Hopefully, it will mean a lot to the person it ends up with, it will evoke an emotion or a thought, or maybe just a smile. That’s fine with me.”