Finding New Orleans to be the epicenter of arts should come as no surprise considering countless artists from all over the world regularly flock to the Port City in search of their creative muse.
Throughout the course of its history, the Big Easy, known as a haven where creative minds come to hone their craft, has placed itself on the map as a world-class fine arts powerhouse, supporting and embracing every aspiring artist’s thirst to express themselves, no matter how that might be. What has emerged from the city’s propensity to embrace artistic endeavors is a unique, city-wide spread of artist-run exhibitions, open-air markets, boutique galleries, and street vendors that allow both local and visiting art lovers to bring home a piece of New Orleans with them, at whatever price pleases their wallet. Here are the best spots to shop for local art in NOLA.
One of the oldest streets in New Orleans, Royal Street is a pedestrian market located in the city’s historic French Quarter neighborhood, one block over from Bourbon Street. This picturesque, 13-block stretch, adorned with colorful galleries, antique shops, boutiques, and restaurants, is famous not only for housing one of the South’s greatest gallery concentrations, but also for being one of the world’s most expensive places to shop for art.
Can’t-miss galleries on Royal Street include fine Louisiana photography at Frank Relle, New Orleans Impressionism at Caliche & Pao Gallery, whimsical and on the nose animal art at Gallery Rinard, and original paintings, limited-edition giclées, sculptures, and more at Sutton Galleries.
Located in the heart of the city’s renovated Warehouse Arts District, Julia Street is a popular commercial strip known mainly for its eclectic mix of art galleries. Nicknamed “Gallery Row,” this renovated and now-upscale 19th century corridor, originally established as an industrial area to store grain, coffee, and produce shipped through the Port of New Orleans, is mostly helmed by NOLA-based artists, making the perfect destination for contemporary art lovers. Head to Julia Street on the first Saturday of every month starting 6pm for extended gallery hours, tastings, music, and more. Julia Street’s must-see galleries include contemporary local art at Brand and Sasik Gallery, plus luxury fine art at Alex Beard Studio.
Built during the late 18th century, Magazine Street is a six-mile-long stretch filled with specialty boutiques, unique pubs, and dining venues, and other attractions enjoyed by locals, tourists, and anyone in-between. Running through some of New Orleans’ most treasured neighborhoods, this Garden District commercial strip features a wide selection of art galleries offering everything from paintings and drawings to photography and sculptures, just to name a few.
For a range of art, Zèle NOLA, a multi-vendor art market is the place to start. Guy Lyman showcases fine art, while the Cole Pratt Gallery features paintings and ceramics from various Southern artists.
If you’re looking to bring home art as a souvenir, but would rather avoid spending a month’s salary on it, head to one of the city’s many open-air markets for some authentic (and affordable) artwork from New Orleans. Here, you’ll be able to browse, purchase, and even bargain for pieces created by both regional and local artists.
Jackson Square, an icon of the city and a popular tourist attraction, is lined with vendors selling handcrafted local art and kitschy souvenirs. Conveniently located next to Café du Monde, stop for one of the city’s best beignets before heading to the French Market, a six-block stretch of shopping with over three centuries of history.