Art, Galleries & Museums

Discover music, art and good reads in downtown Columbia, Missouri

written by Jackie Tucker


My husband, Jake, and I are massive music fans. The 9th Street Summerfest in Columbia, Missouri, is one of our favorite music festivals of the year. We buy our tickets early, clear our calendars and drive two hours from St. Louis to enjoy warm summer nights filled with all our favorite music. Last year, we tried something new. Instead of just heading downtown for the concert in the evening, we had decided to make a day of it. As many times as we had been to Summerfest, we had never taken the time to explore the surrounding downtown area of Columbia—The District.

“Why have we not done this before?” I remembered Jake asking as we wandered down streets filled with sidewalk cafes, art studios and gorgeous old buildings.

Maybe it was the freedom of a summer day with no set agenda, or maybe it was the anticipation of the concert later, but the city seemed to be giving off a warm, energetic vibe that I was embracing wholeheartedly.

A good story

“Jake, look!” I pointed out a store window full of books.

I can’t pass up a good bookstore, and I could tell there was something special about Yellow Dog Bookshop. From the adorable name to the two children who were laughing as they walked out of the shop with their parents, I knew we had to go inside.

As Jake held the door open for me, he said (a little overdramatically), “All this happened, more or less.”

It was a running joke between us. I have this quirky knack for remembering the first lines of famous novels, and Jake always tries to one-up me. As I walked in, I responded with one of my favorites from Pride and Prejudice. “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”

Jake grinned as he browsed through a stack of books on a table by the door. He picked one up and cleared his throat.

“Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.”

“All right, you win!” I laughed. It’s hard to compete with Dickens.

I made my way along the rows of shelves filled with everything from new releases to beloved childhood favorites. The smell of old books and the soft shuffling of pages took me back to afternoons spent at the library after school. And then, I saw my favorite book as a little girl—The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. It wasn’t new, but it was in excellent condition. On the inside cover an inscription read, “To Anna: I hope you enjoy this story as much as I did (and still do). Love, Aunt Sarah.”

And even though I already had three copies of the book, I bought this one, too.

Local art scene

A few blocks away we discovered the Columbia Art League, a gallery of work from talented national and local artists. The art was eclectic and vibrant, a reflection of The District itself. There seemed to be something for everyone—paintings, sculptures and even handcrafted items. It was a visual feast that ranged from contemporary art to funky folklore.

“I don’t understand it, but I like it.” Jake admired a rather psychedelic painting with a turtle in front of a cityscape on a bright blue background. “It looks like it should be an album cover.” Jake is a graphic designer, and I could see his mind spinning with ideas. It was fun to watch his creative process at work.

As we explored the rest of the art in the gallery, I began to appreciate the fact that local artists created all these pieces. While I am certainly no artist myself, I do enjoy it and admire organizations such as the Columbia Art League that involve national and local talent and give emerging and accomplished artists a place to showcase their work together.

Music and lyrics

We spent the rest of the afternoon strolling the streets of The District, delighted by the lovely shops and restaurants around every corner. After a quick bite to eat at Flat Branch Pub & Brewing, we made our way to The Blue Note. A crowd was filling the streets around the outdoor stage and the excitement was growing.

The Blue Note was the perfect spot for live music performances, small with a great bar. Jake and I discovered a couple of our favorite new bands there. It’s standing room only by the stage and the balcony seating is where it’s at if you want a great view. The intimate venue had amazing acoustics, but for 9th Street Summerfest, they took the party outside so more people could get in on the action.

Jake and I made our way to the stage, weaving in and out of the crowd. The energy was contagious. The band hit the stage and we joined in with all the other screaming fans. This may have been what we came for, but Columbia had delivered more than just a great concert and we certainly looked forward to returning in 2018.

Discover The District in Columbia.

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by Beth Kotz

Columbia, MO is a can’t-miss stop for budget-minded travelers of all ages, whether they’re coming from down the block or all the way across the country. Without putting a hole in your wallet, CoMo fun – from inexpensive eats to this summer’s total solar eclipse – offers plenty for everyone. Here are a few simple tips to help you enjoy this beautiful city on a shoestring.

pastries at uprise bakery

Eats on the Cheap

Try to manage how often your family eats out – fix snacks, and shoot for one meal a day outside of restaurants. Farmers markets are a great way to enjoy the city and grub without breaking your budget. On Sunday from 9AM-1PM you could check out Orr Street Farmers and Artisans Market in the North Village Arts District – they’ve got fresh produce, food trucks, interesting creations and entertainment, which means fun for the whole family.

Although it’s important to not break the budget on dining out, doing so is nevertheless arguably one of the best ways to explore a new city. And there are several wonderful spots to check out for food, drink and unique ambiance in Columbia. Uprise Bakery is a local favorite that makes all their ingredients in-house – it’s also conveniently located in the same building as Ragtag Cinema, so you could grab a bite to eat (they allow you to bring it into the actual theater) and catch an interesting movie all in the same area.

railing with painting that says north village arts district

Finding Free Arts and Culture

Looking for art exhibits, museums and more? Columbia is a cultured city that offers a buffet of free thought-provoking collections for visitors. The North Village Arts District is home to a variety of creative venues as well as an artisan market with over 150 artists. The Museum of Art and Archaeology is part of the University of Missouri, and a great place to revisit the state’s rich artistic heritage. For a glimpse of up-and-coming artists, the Art Department Galleries display new work by the best and brightest Columbia College students.

Inexpensive Entertainment

It’s always fun to check out some entertainment when exploring a new city and they don’t always cost you an extensive amount of money. The University of Missouri Department of Theatre offers shows at Rhynsburger Theatre, where tickets are $15 for adults. Or catch a show at Rose Music Hall, which puts on events in Rose Park, Columbia’s largest outdoor beer garden, in the summer.

Free CoMo Fun

The Columbia area has several parks and trails – the city itself has 3,300 acres of City park land, as well as several state parks and conservation areas nearby. You may want to check out Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, which contains some of the most popular trails in the state. Columbia is a historic city – explore some of its many historical sites and landmarks, such as the Centralia Battlefield, upon which one of the bloodiest battles in the Civil War took place. Also something to keep in mind is that on August 21st, 2017, Columbia will be in the direct path of totality for a total solar eclipse!

Little Savings Add Up

It’s always important to do your research before traveling – if you’ve familiarized yourself a bit with the city prior to arriving, knowing where you’re going and having activities planned will help you mediate against unexpected costs. Little savings add up, so plan to pay for as much as possible with cash and try to stick to what you can afford. It’s nevertheless reasonable to use your credit cards to book things here and there along the way, especially if there are any rewards you can gain or use through them – airline miles, fuel benefits, and so on. Use apps or websites that tell you which local gas station is cheapest. Over 50? Check out AARP and senior discounts. Every little bit helps!

A trip to CoMo in the summer should be relaxing, fun, and affordable too. Without breaking the bank, you can see the best parts of this beautiful city and kick back in style.


Beth Kotz is a contributing writer to Credit.com. She specializes in covering financial advice for female entrepreneurs, college students and recent graduates. She earned a BA in Communications and Media from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois, where she continues to live and work.

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6697small- AndreaHello! My name is Andrea and I am a sales manager for the Columbia Convention & Visitors Bureau. I am an avid traveler, and I love the experience of meeting new people, experiencing new unexpected environments, the FOOD, the art, music and just soaking it all up.

Each month I am going to introduce you, our visitor, to all things Columbia, especially our fabulous arts community. Along the way we will explore some of our fabulous locally- owned restaurants or one of our many music venues or fabulous festivals. I hope you enjoy this city as much as I do, and of course, we would love to have you back many times to take advantage
of WHAT YOU UNEXPECT.


So you have made it to Columbia, now what? The North Village Arts District is nestled in the blocks just north of Broadway to Park Avenue, north of downtown. The Village is home to art galleries, a yoga studio, dance companies, a distillery, farmers market, artisan market with over 150 artists, and more. Grab a cup of coffee at Fretboard, dine at Range Free, or listen to live music. The options are endless.

NVADFFPostcardIf you are lucky enough to be here at the first of the month, tap into this bohemian paradise and take advantage of First Fridays. A free art crawl from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. where you can enjoy live music and entertainment, art demonstrations, refreshments, and more.  A perfect date night event or bring the family, each month there are also children’s activities with plenty to see and do.

Saturday nights in the North Village are just as fun. How about a bourbon and vodka tasting at DogMaster Distillers? Celebrating a year in the North Village, Van and Lisa Hawxby are crafting high quality new American spirits, or if micro-beer is more your style, just to the west of the North Village is Logboat Brewing Co., a wildly successful micro-brew. Or take advantage of the great live music venues, featuring 3 unique and fun venues to choose from. Enjoy music inside or out, featuring jazz, blues, rocka-billy, southern rock and more. The Social Room is on the west end of the North Village, Rose Music Hall to the North and The Bridgeopens in a new window on the South side.

Glenn's 8If you are here for the whole weekend, take advantage of Sunday brunch in the District at Room 38, Glenn’s Café, Bleu or Tellers then pop over to the North Village for Sunday’s Farmers Market, a pop-up market managed and operated by area farmers and craftsmen.

 

Whichever you choose during your stay, you will be entertained, enriched and pleasantly surprised by WHAT YOU UNEXPECT.

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6697small- AndreaHello! My name is Andrea and I am a sales manager for the Columbia Convention & Visitors Bureau. I am an avid traveler, and I love the experience of meeting new people, experiencing new unexpected environments, the FOOD, the art, music and just soaking it all up.

Each month I am going to introduce you, our visitor, to all things Columbia, especially our fabulous arts community. Along the way we will explore some of our fabulous locally- owned restaurants or one of our many music venues or fabulous festivals. I hope you enjoy this city as much as I do, and of course, we would love to have you back many times to take advantage of WHAT YOU UNEXPECT.


Did you know Columbia is home to over 200 restaurants? That means we can eat at a different restaurant every day over the next 150+ days! That is amazing, and so are our restaurants.

International Cafe editedWhether you are here for a conference, True/False, a girl’s weekend, or even just for the day, you can satisfy your palette with a wide selection, from diners to cafés.  Consider some of our ethnic choices such as International Caféopens in a new window, Kampai Sushi, Kojaba Korean BBQ, or Thip Thai. If healthy cuisine is more your style, try longtime favorite Main Squeeze, or new addition, Range Free, which is perfect for those with food allergies.

With so many choices it may seem hard to narrow them down. If that is the case and you are feeling a little adventurous, how about making it a ‘food crawl?’ I often start at The Wine Cellar, head over to Addison’s, and then to Sycamore, end the evening at Teller’s for some of their fabulous bread pudding.

Have you ever tried a culinary tour? Columbia Culinary Touropens in a new window has five tours you can choose from: Brunch Tour, Flavors, Night on the Town Tour, Night on the Town with Wine Pairings, and for you beer lovers – Craft Beer and Food Pairing. If you aren’t familiar with this organization, trust me, this will be a new favorite activity. Even if you are a Columbia native, you will learn something new, sample items from the menu you might not have tried before, and have a great time.

Whichever you choose, I know that you will be delighted with the quality of our selection and hopefully you will find a new favorite…or two! As always, Columbia is What You Unexpect. Ciao!


Head over to our dining sectionopens in a new window to find the perfect restaurant for you.

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6697small- AndreaHello! My name is Andrea and I am a sales manager for the Columbia Convention & Visitors Bureau. I am an avid traveler, and I love the experience of meeting new people, experiencing new unexpected environments, the FOOD, the art, music and just soaking it all up.

Each month I am going to introduce you, our visitor, to all things Columbia, especially our fabulous arts community. Along the way we will explore some of our fabulous locally- owned restaurants or one of our many music venues or fabulous festivals. I hope you enjoy this city as much as I do, and of course, we would love to have you back many times to take advantage of WHAT YOU UNEXPECT.


February – the second month in and perhaps one of your resolutions is to embrace your creative side or try a new craft. If that’s the case, you are in luck. Columbia offers a lot of ways to discover your inner Martha Stewart. Whether you are a visitor, resident or attending a conference, we have many options, not only for individual crafts, but also for team-building crafts.

Each month you can find classes available at the Columbia Art League, Access Arts, Paint the Town and The Mud Room. These organizations offer the opportunity to be introduced to a new skill or technique and network with fellow art enthusiasts.

One hidden gem is the Craft Studio located on the MU campus in historic Memorial Union. Each week the Craft Studio holds classes and workshops in printmaking, ceramics, fibers and more. If you are looking for a team building experience, their Creative Team Building workshop “addresses specific challenges that many organizations struggle to overcome through mediated discussion and creative projects.” They offer workshops in Creative Marketing Solutions and Vision & Goal Setting as well.

harold's doughnutsIf cooking is more your creative speed, try “Love Your Craft Cooking Series” with Melissa at Harold’s Donuts. You and your team will be able to make donuts like pros at this fun class, and you’ll leave with practical knowledge of how to make doughnuts from home.

Back to 2 Basics offers teams another chance to work together and cook a meal. Games are incorporated throughout to keep things lively, and the grand finale is when everyone gets to sit down and enjoy the fruits of their labor.

These are just a few of the unique and fun options Columbia has to offer. Whichever team-building experience you choose, you are sure to be enriched. And who knows, you may even find a great new hobby! Enjoy, and we hope to see you back in Columbia soon!

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6697small- AndreaHello! My name is Andrea and I am a sales manager for the Columbia Convention & Visitors Bureau. I am an avid traveler, and I love the experience of meeting new people, experiencing new unexpected environments, the FOOD, the art, music and just soaking it all up.

Each month I am going to introduce you, our visitor, to all things Columbia, especially our fabulous arts community.  Along the way we will explore some of our fabulous locally- owned restaurants or one of our many music venues or fabulous festivals.   I hope you enjoy this city as much as I do, and of course, we would love to have you back many times to take advantage of WHAT YOU UNEXPECT.


Ah January. A new year… a fresh start… and for many of us, a chance to work off the holiday cheer imbibed over the holidays. If you are visiting our community and want to stick with your health resolutions, never fear: Columbia has many opportunities from our hiking and biking trails and fitness facilities to our great restaurants.

Columbia is an active city. You will find pedestrian lanes on the major thoroughfares and over 50 miles of City trails where you can walk, run or bike.

If you didn’t bring your bike, no worries – CycleExtremeopens in a new window [19 S. 6th Street] and Walt’s Bicycle Fitness & Wildernessopens in a new window [at the corner of Rogers & College] have bikes for rent or purchase.

Rock Bridge State ParkIs a walk in the park more your speed? Columbia has 76 parksopens in a new window for you to choose from, five with exercise stations. If hiking is your style, be sure to visit Rock Bridge Memorial State Parkopens in a new window, a gem in our city that features hiking, equestrian, and bicycle trails. The park is home to the Devil’s Icebox, a 63 foot-high natural tunnel known as the Rock Bridge, and a double sinkhole entrance to Devil’s Icebox and Connor’s Cave.

Another walking option is the Public Art touropens in a new window, with over 25 works of art and traffic box art in the downtown area. It’s a perfect way to get some exercise and take advantage of the artsy side of Columbia.

If you prefer a full on workout, the Activity & Recreation Centeropens in a new window, affectionately referred to as the ARC, is Columbia’s popular fitness center. The ARC is a full fitness facility and offers an indoor leisure pool, gym and indoor track.

Main Squeeze Tofu TacoNow that you have remained true to your resolution to stay physically active, you might want to replenish with some of our healthy restaurant choices. Main Squeezeopens in a new window is Columbia’s original vegetarian restaurant that offers a variety of healthy options from soups and salads to baked goods and smoothies. You can also choose from one of Columbia’s many ethnic options. Our newest restaurant, Range Freeopens in a new window, is located on Orr Street and specializes in allergen free specialty diets offering everything from pizzas and pastas to baked goods.

We hope you enjoy your time in Columbia and take advantage of all our town has to offer. Come back to see us soon!

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Hello! My name is Andrea and I am a sales manager for the
Columbia Convention & Visitors Bureau.6697small- Andrea I am an avid traveler, and I love the experience of meeting new people, experiencing new unexpected environments, the FOOD, the art, music and just soaking it all up.

Each month I am going to introduce you, our visitor, to all things Columbia, especially our fabulous arts community.  Along the way we will explore some of our fabulous locally- owned restaurants or one of our many music venues or fabulous festivals.   I hope you enjoy this city as much as I do, and of course, we would love to have you back many times to take advantage of WHAT YOU UNEXPECT.


Let’s start with the art of coffee! I love coffee, especially this time of year when the air has turned crisp and refreshing – I enjoy the warmth of the cup in my hand, the wonderful aroma and the work of art.  Columbia’s baristas are artisans, turning ordinary foam into a work of art. Columbia is lucky to have some amazing coffee shops, each awesome in their own unique way.  Take for example: Coffee Zone. If you want to be amped and ready for the day, Rocket Fuel will take you there! Also, Lakota has a warm and welcoming atmosphere that encourages a slower, more relaxed pace. Not to mention a particularly delightful mocha. fretboard

A recent discovery is Fretboard Coffee. They are located in the North Village Arts District, tucked away next to the Catacombs beneath Artlandish. If you haven’t been to this great area, GO!

Fretboard, like many of Columbia’s great coffee shops, roasts their own certified organic, free trade coffee beans. But what is so interesting about Fretboard is their unique way of customizing each cup of coffee. They have several different delivery methods to choose from – the tfretboardraditional French press delivers a full bodied cup, while the Chemex – invented by a chemist many moons ago, delivers a delicate cup, and the Aeropress, which is similar to an espresso and will give you quite a jolt. But my favorite, not only because I enjoy the end product, but because it looks so darn cool – is the Siphon pot. This pot truly looks like a science experiment and always results in a great pot of coffee. Stop by and watch these coffee artists work their magic and deliver you a wonderful work of art – in a cup.

So as you are strolling around the District, enjoying the magic tree and the holiday lights, please grab a coffee from one of our many, wonderful local coffee purveyors. Enjoy the public art, support our great locally owned businesses, and dine at one of our many fabulous, locally- owned restaurants.

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6697small- AndreaHello! My name is Andrea, and I am a sales manager for the Columbia Convention & Visitors Bureau and also an avid traveler. I LOVE to travel, and I love the experience of meeting new people, seeing a new environment, the FOOD, the art, music and just soaking it all up.

Each month I would like to introduce you, our visitor, to all things Columbia, especially our fabulous arts community. Along the way, I will introduce you to some of our fabulous locally owned restaurants or one of our many music venues or fabulous festivals. I hope you enjoy the city as much as I do and of course, we would love to have you back many times to take advantage of
WHAT YOU UNEXPECT.


This month I would like to introduce you to Access Arts, also known as School of Service. School of Service was started by Hurst John in 1971. John was an accomplished architect who had a son with Cerebral Palsy, and he felt art should be integrated into his learning. “Access Arts is open to all ages, abilities and economic circumstances.”

LogoAs a visitor to Columbia, you may be inspired by the beauty of the city and the amazing art galleries and public art, and Access Arts is perfect for a weekday art retreat, or if you are here for a conference and want a fun, interactive activity for your attendees – Access Arts is a unique place to rent for an activity or an afternoon reception. Your attendees will be inspired by the amazing artwork displayed throughout the three Access Arts campuses, and you will help move the mission of the organization forward by “providing creative learning experiences for everyone”… community member or visitor.

For more information about Access Arts, check out their websiteopens in a new window or stop by at 1724 McAllester Street, Columbia, Missouri 65201.
573-875-0275
accessarts@schoolofservice.org

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Sarah Dresser from the city’s Office of Cultural Affairs offers a monthly snapshot of what gallery exhibits to check out around town.

Orr Street Studios

one readRemnants: A One Read Art Exhibit is on display at Orr Street Studios through Sept. 26. Reception, artist awards, and special program will take place on Sept. 15, 6:30-8pm.

If the world were changed by sudden catastrophe – no electricity, medicine, Internet, transportation – what would you miss most? Inspired by this year’s One Read selection, mid-Missouri artists were invited to contribute works that explore the objects or relationships in our connected, complex and electrified world we’d yearn for most if they were lost to us.

“No more diving into pools of chlorinated water lit green from below. No more ball games played out under floodlights. No more porch lights with moths fluttering on summer nights. No more trains running under the surface of cities on the dazzling power of the electric third rail. No more cities.” ~ Emily St. John Mandel, “Station Eleven”

Montminy Art Gallery

The Missouri Watercolor Society Members Only Exhibit opens Sept. 10 at the Montminy Art Gallery at Boone County Museum & Galleries in Nifong Park. Exhibit on display through Nov. 1.

Sandra Schaffer

(Artwork by Sandra Schaffer)

 Columbia College exhibits

Two exhibits are currently on display at Columbia College. The Faculty Showcase is up at the Greg Hardwick Gallery through Sept. 23. Muslim/American, American/Muslim by Robert Gerhardt is on display at the Sidney Larson Gallery through Sept. 18.

Columbia College galleries

(Artwork by Mike Sleadd)

Also around town:

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Sarah Dresser from the city’s Office of Cultural Affairs offers a monthly snapshot of what gallery exhibits to check out around town.

Sager Braudis Gallery
The 2015 Late Summer Exhibit is on display at the Sager Braudis Gallery (formerly known as PS Gallery) in the North Village Arts District through September 26. Featuring artwork by Luca Cruzat, Amy Meyer, Nora Othic, Joe Pintz, and Joel Sager. Opening reception is August 7, 6-9pm, during First Fridays in the North Village Arts District.

SB Gallery Aug. 2015

Columbia Art League
CAL Members’ Summer Open on display through August 19 at Columbia Art League.

CAL Aug. 2015

The Interpretations III exhibit opens August 22, with a reception the same day from 6-8pm. A marriage of 40 visual artists and 40 literary artists, each submitting one work of his/her own choice with any theme. Then, an art swap: Each visual artist receives a work from one of the writers; each literary artist receives an artwork. The task for each artist and writer: to create a second work of art or piece of writing, which is his or her interpretation of the other artist’s work. The result: A show of 80 artworks and 80 pieces of writing. The aim of the show: A reminder that we all see the world differently; our interpretations of the world around us are uniquely ours. How will each artist interpret the other artist’s work? How will the viewer interpret the written words and artworks in the show? This will be the third year of this extraordinary show. The previous two years’ entries can be seen in the Interpretations and Interpretations II books, available to view or purchase at the Columbia Art League.

Montminy Art Gallery
The City of Columbia Career Awareness Related Experience (C.A.R.E.) Gallery Program is hosting its annual end-of-summer show to display the artwork that these talented young artists have been creating all summer. The exhibit is on display at Boone County Historical Society’s Montminy Art Gallery through August 28. Artwork includes woodblock prints, ceramic sculpture, photography, mixed media pieces, textiles, and more!

Montminy August 2015

The C.A.R.E. program, which began in 1982, is a comprehensive program for Columbia’s at-risk youth that includes: paid real-world hands-on experience, career exploration, mentoring, and life skills training.

Also around town…

  • Craft Studio: Hometown: Personal Cartographies, artworks made by the City of Columbia C.A.R.E. Gallery Program artists-in-residence on display through August 14. Reception August 7, 4-6pm.
  • First Fridays in the North Village Arts District on August 7, 6-9pm.
  • Matt Moyer Exhibit on display at Orr Street Studios through August 30.
  • State Historical Society: Audubon’s Paper Menageries on display through November 28. Curator’s walk-through on August 29 at 1:30pm.

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