As the spring/summer event season rears its welcomed head, cities and towns across the South are celebrating art in new and creative ways. One woman in a small Alabama town is raising money to beautify and color the town’s walls in a major way. An Italian art expert has created an immense digitized Vincent Van Gogh experience you have to see to believe. And the enchanting love story of one Kentucky couple has created an unmatched glass collection of Chihuly and more. You’ll want to add these three intriguing art experiences to your Southern road-trip lineup.

Immersive Van Gogh

Various cities in North America including:

The Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit is making its way across the country and it’s nothing short of spectacular. Visitors are, well, immersed in Vincent van Gogh’s sunny landscapes, portraits, night scenes, and still-life paintings displayed across more than 500,000 cubic feet of monumental projections. The digitized animations of his masterpieces are entrancing, moving images that highlight brush strokes, colors, and details — and make you feel as if you’ve plopped down into the mind of the genius.

Immersive Van Gogh

The installation includes the “Mangeurs de Pommes de Terre” (The Potato Eaters, 1885), “Nuit Etoilée” (Starry Night, 1889), “Les Tournesols” (Sunflowers, 1888), and “La Chambre à Coucher” (The Bedroom, 1889), and many, many more. Image: Michael Brosilow

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The exhibit is designed and conceived by Massimiliano Siccardi, an Italian installation artist whose work has been seen by more than 2 million people in Paris (plus, you might have seen it on the Netflix show “Emily in Paris”). The accompanying soundtrack you’ll hear throughout the exhibit is by Luca Longobardi, Siccardi’s co-pioneer of the original immersive digital art experiences in France.

Immersive Van Gogh

This not-to-be-missed art experience is for all ages, so bring the whole family or plan the perfect date, outing with friends, girls’ night out, or solo expedition. Image: Michael Brosilow

Art buff or not, the astonishing scale and breathtaking imaginativeness are worth the ticket. For more information and to find a city near you, head to immersivevangogh.com.

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Collecting – A Love Story: Glass from the Adele and Leonard Leight Collection

Speed Art Museum | Louisville, Kentucky

Leonard and the late Adele Leight got engaged after a three-week courtship and were married for 69 years. As they grew their love together, they also grew their collection of and appreciation for art. They meandered through shops all over the world and allowed themselves to purchase the things they gravitated to, learning about art history and the greats along the way. Over decades of accumulating and thoughtful negotiation with one another, the Leights built one of the country’s most robust and meaningful collections of contemporary glass and generously gifted it to Louisville’s Speed Art Musem over the past three decades. It’s now on display for all to see.

Leonard an Adele Leigh through the years

You can almost feel the vivacity and love of Leonard and Adele Leight in these photos of them through the years. The best intro to this exhibit is this heartwarming video interview with the love-bird collectors. Images: Courtesy of the Leight Family

Through June, “Collecting – A Love Story: Glass from the Adele and Leonard Leight Collection” showcases more than 60 works by more than 50 artists to demonstrate both the Leights’ shared lives as collectors and the stories of international contemporary glass embedded within their collection. Scott Erbes, the Speed’s Curator of Decorative Arts and Design, co-curated the collection with prolific artist and educator Norwood Viviano, using the breadth of the Leight Collection to examine the diverse disciplines of the represented artists. Some of the themes to be explored: issues of race and gender, perspectives on the human figure, conceptual considerations of the history of glass, and formalist explorations of the material.

Speed Art Louisville Jeffrey Gibson, I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free, 2018

Jeffrey Gibson’s (American, born 1972) “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free” (2018) is comprised of glass beads, artificial sinew, wool, tin jingles, and steel studs on canvas over a wood panel. At 62 inches wide, this is one of many intriguing pieces to discover in the Leights’ collection. Image: Pete Mauney

Some of the featured artists include Dale Chihuly, Stephen Paul Day, Jeffrey Gibson, Karen LaMonte, Silvia Levenson, and many more. While you’re at the Speed, there are plenty of other exhibits to see, including “Promise, Witness, Remembrance,” which reflects on the life of Breonna Taylor, her killing in 2020, and the year of protests that followed in Louisville and around the world.

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The Chasing Art Project

Decatur, Alabama

Mural artist Kelsey Montague — you may know her from the huge wing murals that pepper your social media feeds — has officially bestowed a set of wings on Alabama thanks to Glenn Mitchell, public art champion and founder of The Chasing Art Project. “The Chasing Art Project is a public art project I started after many years of traveling the country looking at public art and fangirling artists. Large-scale art can instill culture and pride in a community, and I wanted to bring some of that back to Decatur,” she says. “I also want to inspire young people to dream big, and I want to unite all people.”

The Chasing Art Project

The first wall currently up is “One Tribe, One Day” by artist Michael McPheeters, designed by Glenn herself as a tribute to Native American culture. Image: Glenn Mitchell

So how does it work? Glenn finds the perfect real estate for the murals and dreams up themes and ideas that she brings to life collaboratively with guest artists and muralists. All of their work is privately funded by donations through her fundraising efforts, and every dollar donated goes directly into a wall. “This year we have 11 pieces to fulfill. We are still very low on donations but have a festival in the works to help offset costs.” Last year, Glenn had four large pieces planned, but with COVID and a large hit to her initial fundraising, she had to pick two. “I knew I had to make an impact with them.”

Bee Proud Decatur Kelsey Montague

The second wall is a “What Lifts You” piece by the famous Kelsey Montague titled “BEE PROUD DECATUR.” Image: Glenn Mitchell

Visitors to Decatur, which has a lot of other cool stuff happening, can also see two smaller walls. There’s a yellow bee titled “BEE KIND DECATUR” by artist Jason Sharp who passed away in 2019 and was supposed to be the VP of The Chasing Art Project. “We also have a heart made from varying shades of skin tones by myself titled “BEE UNITED DECATUR,” Glenn says.

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Chasing Art Project Glenn Mitchell

“We have lots of work to do in our country to bring peace and unity to everyone, and it all starts at home,” Glenn says of her inspiration for the skin-toned heart titled “BEE UNITED DECATUR.” Image: Glenn Mitchell

This year, Glenn and her artists are catching up on the projects they left on the table last year and more. One is a tribute to Mae Jamison, the first Black woman to travel to space. Glenn is also working with an artist from Los Angeles to create a piece for the community free clinic. She says, “We have a ‘welcome’ wall in the works, a cultural diversity wall going up, a celebration of love, a veterans memorial wall, a beautiful wild mustang piece of realism, and, hopefully, a couple of pieces for our river tourists to enjoy!”

There will be more and more art to see in Decatur as Glenn continues her impassioned mission. Follow The Chasing Art Project on Facebook and Instagram.

Here’s to artful and art-filled explorations in the coming months!

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