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Exploring Coastal Art Galleries

Published: August 13, 2021

 

If you are building your own personal art collection or just wish to bring home a very special momento from the Oregon Coast, Historic Old Town Florence is a great destination for art shopping.

With close to a dozen galleries clustered on and adjacent to Bay Street, exploring both local and international collections is easy to do. You can also round out your gallery tour with sightseeing the area's public art. Between colorful outdoor murals and the Sea Lion sculptures, there are many artistic compilations to admire.

Backstreet Gallery

The Backstreet Gallery was awarded "Best of Florence's Galleries" in 2018. It is an art co-op of over twenty Florence artists with mediums ranging from photography to fiber arts. For an authentic feel for the coastal art scene, this artist-owned and operated gallery is the best destination. The Backstreet Gallery also hosts artist receptions and workshops from felting to poetry writing.

Florence Backstreet Gallery

Photo: Melanie Griffin

Oregon Coast Galleries

Family-owned Oregon Coast Galleries showcase a cluster of eye-catching art and gift galleries along Bay Street in Historic Old Town Florence. Each gallery offers slightly different collections with a focus on local northwest artists - although artists from across the nation and the globe are included in the mix.

At Sticks & Stones, tree trunks and beautiful stone texturing create the perfect backdrop for a unique collection of art. A parade of wooden ducks in yellow raincoats and rain hats called "Rainy Day Quackers" by Mike Mikutowski is a popular draw. 

Across the street the Blue Heron Gallery highlights elegantly blown glass floats and vases, metal wall hangings depicting forest scenes and herons by KC Scott and unique bells made from repurposed CO2 canisters and skateboard wheels.

At Of Land & Sea, you'll find sea-themed metal art by Gary Manos — think dolphins and sea shells — and Mova globes that spin without batteries or magnets. 

The popular Wind Drift Gallery features "Exotic Sands" shifting picture art and lots of beautiful glass and metal work. Here you can also find small gift items, pottery, wind chimes, carmel corn, candy and logo shirts.

Sticks & Stones Gallery in Florence by Melanie Griffin

Sticks & Stones Gallery

Photo: Melanie Griffin / EugeneCascadesCoast.org

The River Gallery

The River Gallery overlooks the Siuslaw River with a collection of fine art by local artists. The gallery space is light and bright and features blown glass, pottery, paintings and photography.

The River Gallery in Florence by Melanie Griffin

The River Gallery

Photo: Melanie Griffin

Waterlily Studio Florence

This shop is not just for the art collector — artists revel here too! Stocked with an amazing amount of beads and crafting materials, wandering through here will get your creative juices flowing. Discover natural elements incorporated into jewelry, woven baskets and ornamental pieces. Pick up sea glass necklaces and "soap rocks" for perfect coastal gifts. The Waterlily Studio has also offered jewelry making and wire art classes, but on-site instruction is on hold for the present.

The Waterlily Studio in Florence by Melanie Griffin

The Waterlily Studio

Photo: Melanie Griffin

Manna

If you love beautiful things, this gallery and home store is calling you. Step inside for delightful discoveries from local makers. The Manna shop and studio is part apothecary, craft furniture, artisan wares and jewelry store. The jeweler is shop owner Whitney Shelmaner who creates hand forged engagement rings and other stunning keepsakes.

Manna Store Window Front in Florence

Manna Shop Storefront

Photo: Melanie Griffin / EugeneCascadesCoast..org

The Laughing Crab Gallery

In late summer of 2021 the Laughing Crab Gallery from Yachats will be opening its doors on Bay Street between the Bay Street Grill and Beachcombers Bar & Pub. This locally-owned boutique gallery features over 50 Oregon artists. Expect metal work, paintings and pottery. And one of their fun features is their tasting room — where you can taste Oregon wines, beer and cider while you shop.

Florence Regional Arts Alliance

This casual storefront supports Florence's local art community. The Florence Regional Arts Alliance showcases both local artists and local authors and you'll get the best in-depth scoop on the art scene here. Their book selection includes fiction and local history. If you are looking for local authors, this is the place to find some really excellent and relevant books to read. Additionally, you can pick up resale art supplies and products and enroll in art and writing workshops. Some of their programs may be paused during the pandemic, so call ahead.

The Florence Regional Arts Alliance (FRAA) also hosts the annual FlorenceFest — a wine, jazz and art extravaganza. 

The Mustard Seed

Like FRAA, you can do crafts here as well as browse and shop. This creative hub is designed as a community and visitor gathering place for sharing artistic pursuits. They also wrap culinary and cultural explorations into their event calendar. The Mustard Seed has online shopping and "Take & Create" kits too... so if you, or the kids, or both need a little down time after a whirl of coastal activities, retreat to the hotel room with a ready-made project.

Second Saturdays Gallery Tour

Art lovers can pick up a gallery passport from a participating location and take a self-guided tour of Florence's best art. Each month on the second Saturday from 3 - 5 p.m., enjoy artist receptions and entertainment along with the visual arts. Completed passports can be entered into a drawing for prizes. Please note: This program has been a tradition for many years, but due to pandemic protocols, it is currently being revamped. Check the website for updates starting July 2021.

Author: Taj Barnhart Morgan

Taj Barnhart Morgan is the Director of Content Strategy for Travel Lane County. A journalism graduate from the University of Oregon, Taj has two decades of special event management and hospitality marketing experience in San Diego, CA and Maui, HI. Passionate about mothering, and back to her Oregon roots, she is discovering the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region all over again through the eyes of her daughter.