Durham, North Carolina prides itself as being a well rounded, diverse community. This diversity is reflected wonderfully in Durham’s burgeoning arts community in the form of sculptures, murals, galleries, and public artworks located throughout the city. Please read on to learn about some key stops for you to make when visiting eclectic Durham.
Funeral art you say? Yes, Durham has some notable and exceptional examples of funeral art, if that is something that meets your desire. Two cemeteries, Beechwood and Geer, feature graves of important early African-American business and cultural leaders, while the Maplewood Cemetery contains Italian marble figures and Victorian “funereal” art. Incidentally, Maplewood features the graves of confederate war veterans and tobacco magnates.
Of course, not everyone likes visiting graveyards, but art museums do abound in Durham.
The Nasher Museum of Art is located at Duke University and it houses a fine collection of Russian, European, African, and pre-Columbian artwork. Nearby at North Carolina Central University is an art museum containing African art objects, 19th and 20th century African-American collections, and works submitted by students of this historically black institution.
A stroll through downtown Durham will reveal many murals not easily appreciated by the driving public. Check out the Locomotive mural over at the Amtrak station; The Killer Tomato mural on Foster Street; the Here Comes the Sun mural on the Wee Shop Building; and the untitled mural on the Durham County Social Services building.
Foster Street is an arts-lovers paradise as the venerable thoroughfare contains a half dozen studios. Not to be outdone, the Durham County Public Library on Roxboro Street has paintings, drawings, tapestries, and sculptures while the Sarah P. Duke Gardens features a lovely metalwork fountain and many sculptures.
Fans of vintage art will not be disappointed in their visit to Durham. In the American Tobacco Historic District the Lucky Strike Smokestack and Water Tower hold prominence there. Over on East Parrish Street are signs for Chiclets, Double Mint, and Pepsi-Cola, while on West Main Street the famed Bull Durham Tobacco sign can be observed.
Finally, if the performing arts grabs your attention, then Duke University has five theaters and auditoriums to meet your needs.
Many galleries and studios hold planned exhibits throughout the year. One of the biggest is held in December — the Durham Art Walk — featuring over one hundred working visual artists, many of whom have their own studios downtown.
So, next time you visit Durham, plan on spending some time getting to know the city’ unique tapestry of artists. There is something for you no matter how eclectic your tastes may be.