Art shows take center stage in downtown West Palm Beach

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By AARON WORMUS
Palms West Monthly
Posted Jan. 31, 2020

If you’re an art lover, I can’t think of a better place to live than West Palm Beach. It’s also a fantastic place to visit.

Art is absolutely everywhere. There is street art on every corner, art classes, glass art galleries, popup galleries, sculpture art, contemporary art, performance art, museums – and now a boutique art-focused hotel.

From the Marriott Autograph Collection, The Ben will open soon on the West Palm Beach Waterfront one block away from Clematis Street.

The Ben was inspired by one of West Palm Beach’s legendary houses, “The Ben Trovato,” a lakefront home and the focal point of the social scene of the late 1880s. The name comes from the Italian expression, “Se non è vero, è molto ben trovato” translated loosely to “even if it is not true, it is a good story.”

It’s said that artists, painters, writers, scholars and poets flocked to the home owned by Mrs. Byrd Spilman Dewey, where they were enchanted by the whimsical art and tall tales.

And it’s through art that The Ben is differentiating itself.

“No longer are hotels relevant by just offering clean rooms or room service. Today’s traveler is looking for interesting destinations, for hotels like The Ben that reflect and highlight the best the locale has to offer,” said Bernardo Neto, general manager at The Ben. “The fact is that West Palm Beach is known for great art. From the established Norton Museum to the street murals throughout the city, [art] adds to the character of our city. It is this unique charm that either leisure travelers or busy business travelers are looking for.”

Visitors to the Ben Trovato would be amazed by how far the art scene has grown in their little town, which in 1894 became incorporated as the City of West Palm Beach. 

Now, 125 years later, they could find themselves enjoying sophisticated conversations in the rooftop bar of The Ben, then heading out to enjoy one of the many January and February events during West Palm Beach’s “Art Month.”

Palm Beach Modern + Contemporary, the art show that has kicked off West Palm Beach’s “Art Month” now for the last four years, is presented by Art Miami. This larger-than-life show is where you’ll find big names like Picasso, Lichtenstein, Haring and Mr. Brainwash, alongside stunning galleries of art and sculpture waiting to be discovered. If you missed this year’s show, be sure to mark your calendar for next year.

Up next is CONTINUUM, the community-organized event that kicked off Jan. 22 and runs to Feb. 1 at the Paul Fisher Gallery at 433 Flamingo Dr. Come for daily events and to view the gallery of more than 200 works of art by more than 50 artists. For more information, go online to continuumwpbarts.com.

Art Palm Beach is now in its 23rd year and takes over the Palm Beach County Convention Center Jan. 30 to Feb. 3 with extraordinary installations, live music and interactive experiences. Art Palm Beach creates a new contemporary art fair genre and an enhanced cultural experience designed to attract multiple visits by attendees. Go online to nextlevelfairs.com/artpalmbeach for more information.

Finally, from Feb. 13-18, Palm Beach Show is the spectacular grand finale of Art Month. Taking place at the Palm Beach Convention Center, this high-end showcase changed its name from the Palm Beach Jewelry, Art & Antique Show to emphasize its all-inclusive nature and commitment to the area. It will take visitors all five days to take in all there is to see in this expansive show. For more information, go online to palmbeachshow.com.

But the art doesn’t stop just because Art Month is over.

The Norton Museum of Art just completed a $100 million renovation. With its reopening the Norton rebranded one of their most popular events – Art After Dark.

Each Friday the free Art After Dark series features a diverse range of performances, speakers, gallery tours, art-making activities, film screenings and more. The first Friday of the month is Jazz Friday. Artist Tours and Open Studio art-making are on the third Friday of the month. Other varied programs are offered from week to week.

At The Ben, the art never stops, as they have curated over a dozen original pieces of art and sculpture which hang throughout the hotel. A beautiful art program guides guests through each of the whimsical pieces and explains the reason for each piece. 

“We focus on a ‘well told’ story,” said Neto. “From art depicting floating houses to elephants inside a home, each visitor will be questioning if what they are seeing could be real, or is it a story well told?”

Something that surely has to be experienced first hand. The Ben opens Feb. 13.

Pictured above: An exhibitor booth from the 2019 Palm Beach Jewelry, Art & Antique Show. This year’s show returns to the Palm Beach County Convention Center Feb. 13-18 with a new name – The Palm Beach Show. Courtesy of The Palm Beach Art Show

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