fThe arts have always been center stage in Memphis, and accessible art is plentiful — as in, you do not have to spend much at all to watch or listen to a world-class performance, tour a museum or even take home a masterpiece! Developing your personal taste in visual and performing arts is no less individual than creating it. Art is about exploration, not definition, and Memphis has innumerable creative venues for you to revisit and discover! Here are a few off the cuff suggestions:

Galleries, Museums and Local Artists

The Price is Right at David Lusk

Come on down! You are the next contestant on The Price is Right at David Lusk! This art exhibit is going on now and it is the gallery’s annual offering of artworks under $1000! Wonderful artists with a wide range of backgrounds and influences from different parts of Tennessee and across the nation are on display. Sculpture, mixed media, and works on panel and canvas can be expected with a limitless scope of subject matter that is refreshing and creative. With a showing of nearly 50 artists, it is a perfect opportunity to start your own art collection, or to find a piece to add to it!

David Lusk is well-known in Memphis for his extensive gallery collection of Southern and contemporary art. The Price is Right exhibit runs through August 24, 2014 and gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saturdays, 11:00 to 4:00 p.m.

Price is Right at DLG
(l to r): Nancy Cheairs, Rolling Hills, watercolor on paper and Pinkney Herbert, AZ, oil, digital print on panel, 8×10, 2014; both at the David Lusk Gallery. Both of these paintings are in The Price is Right show.

National Ornamental Metal Museum

The National Ornamental Metal Museum is the only institution in the United States devoted exclusively to the preservation and promotion of fine metalwork. It is a place where art is displayed and art is made. Open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Sundays, noon to 5 p.m. metalmuseum.org

national ornamental metal museum
National Ornamental Metal Museum

South Main Arts District

Since the mid-1980s, artists have enjoyed the cultural setting of South Main as well as the architectural beauty or renovated buildings and affordable options for living and working downtown. Artists, musicians, writers, designers, performers and organizations that support the arts fill South Main!

A few great art venues and galleries to peek into on your walk down South Main: ARTjamN Paint Studio, Art Village Gallery, D’Edge Art and Unique Gifts, Gallery 363 at Leadership Memphis, Hyde Gallery at Memphis College of Art, Jack Robinson Gallery, Joysmith Gallery, LilyRoze Studios, the Sue Layman Gallery, the Tops Gallery and many, many more! gosouthmain.com

South Main Trolley Night
Photo via South Main Trolley Night on Facebook.

Front Porch Art

Can’t get to all of the local galleries we’ve suggested? (Understandable. There are so many!) Go online and check out a locally based art option called Front Porch Art, created by Memphian Caitlin Horton. This is an engaging presentation of Southern artists and artisans that is closely linked to Memphis events such as Art for Jobs in support of Advance Memphis.

Front Porch Art has works available for all price points, including original works for as little as $50! One of the artists that Front Porch Art represents is Rebecca Phillips, who recently created a Memphis Type Illustrated signs series, paintings that preserve Memphis history through the history and stories behind those signs. (Caitlin and Rebecca’s have recorded the Memphis Type series project in a book that comes out later this year!) frontporchart.com

Rebecca Phillips
The original “Memphis Type Illustrated” series of paintings preserves hidden gems of Memphis’ urban landscape. This poster print, $25, features six Memphis signs from the series by Rebecca Phillips.


The Cannon Center

The world-class Cannon Center, one of the nation’s best acoustical facilities for live orchestral music is a 2,100-seat multi-purpose facility. It is the home of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra (MSO) and hosts a multitude of other events including ballet, opera, pop and jazz concerts, touring theatrical productions, children’s theater and general sessions for conventions in the Memphis Cook Convention Center. thecannoncenter.com

Dance performance at The Cannon Center
Dance performance at The Cannon Center, photo via Cannon Center on Facebook.

Orpheum Theatre

The Orpheum Theatre is approaching 90 years in Memphis. This premiere theatre brings concerts, productions and 10 to 12 Broadway shows each year to the Mid-South.Two of Memphis’ local arts groups, Ballet Memphis and Opera Memphis, also call the Orpheum home. orpheum-memphis.com

Orpheum performance
Performance of Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Orpheum Theatre. Photo via the Orpheum on Facebook.


The Memphis Symphony Orchestra

The Memphis Symphony Orchestra (MSO) has been an integral part of the cultural, educational and economic life of the Mid-South since 1952. memphissymphony.org

Memphis Symphony cellist.
Iren Zombor, assistant principal cellist. Originally from Hungary, Iren has been with the Memphis Symphony since 1996. Photo via Memphis Symphony Orchestra on Facebook

Opera Memphis

Opera Memphis currently performs four to six mainstage shows per season, featuring world-class singers and accompanied by the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. They perform at venues including the Germantown Performing Arts Center, the Orpheum, and Playhouse on the Square. Since 2004, the Clark Opera Memphis Center, a 19,000 square-foot facility has served as their administrative headquarters, an event hall, a costume and props shop as well as a popular venue for special events such as weddings, conferences and parties. operamemphis.org

Clark Opera Memphis Center
Clark Opera Memphis Center, photo via Pinterest

Beale Street

Beale Street has been playing the blues for more than half a century. The redevelopment of Beale Street is considered a catalyst in downtown Memphis’ rebirth. In 1983, the first club reopened on Beale, and one by one, clubs and businesses have moved into renovated spaces, producing what is now a vibrant streetscape and activity center. bealestreet.com

Beale Street, Memphis
Beale Street, Memphis on a Sunday afternoon.

Memphis Rock ’n’ Soul Museum

Developed in cooperation with the Smithsonian Institution, the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum tells the story of musical pioneers who created music that shook the entire world. It is open daily, 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. with the last tour at 6:15 p.m. memphisrocknsoul.org

Memphis Rock n Soul Museum
Photo via the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum on Facebook

Stax Museum of American Soul Music

Built on the site of Stax Records, join in the excitement surrounding the neighborhood known as “Soulsville USA with a tour of this state-of-the-art museum. This is where the careers of unknowns who would become icons launched their first smash soul hits: Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, the Staple Singers, Wilson Pickett, Luther Ingram, Albert King, the Bar-Kays and dozens of other artists whose influence remains vital in the music of today. Open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sundays,1:00 to 5:00 p.m. staxmuseum.com

Stax Museum Memphis
Stax Museum Memphis, photo via Stax Museum on Facebook.

Sun Studio

The place that gave Elvis and many others their start, Sun Studio is one of the most famous recording studios in the world.Open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.Tours are given every half-hour from 10:30 a.m. through 5:30 p.m. sunstudio.com

Sun Studio_Elvis
On this date in 1955, Sam Phillips released Sun Records single #223 with Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black, cut right here in Memphis at Sun Studio. Photo via Sun Studio on Facebook. Shared here for the next generation of rock ‘n’ roll fans: youtube.com

Have fun exploring one of the artsiest cities in the U.S., Memphis, Tennessee! And a special welcome to all of the Elvis fans in town for Elvis Week 2014, August 9 to 17.



About the Author
Christian Owen