Experience the New Old West
| By Andrew Schaeffer
Embark on a delightful journey to the mining-turned artist community of Bisbee. With 18 galleries, 35 restaurants and restaurants, and more than 50 places to stay, this quirky town is perfect for an inspiring day trip or overnight stay from Tucson.
Upon arriving in the historic district, stroll up picturesque Main Street and be dazzled by the town’s gorgeous 120-year-old architecture. The scenery is indeed quaint and charming, but this is a town that takes its art seriously. With a vibrant arts community that is continually growing, you’ll find the works of art varies greatly from gallery to gallery. Some galleries are run by the artist themselves who exhibit and sell their own pieces while others cater to showcasing internationally recognized and established artists. This variety ensures you’ll have plenty of excuses to scoop up fabulous art from one (or more) of the fine art galleries that dot Bisbee’s delightful downtown.
To help grow the artist community, three artist residencies are available to visual artists, writers, photographers—really artists who work in any media. These programs help launch young artists’ careers by providing opportunities for them to exhibit their works without having to worry about securing their own gallery or living space. And by embracing them within such a strong artist community, connections that last a lifetime will be made between the fledgling artists and the professionals, as well as to the town itself.
Museum and Annex Gallery
The Artemizia Foundation encompasses a contemporary, graffiti & street art museum with a commercial gallery component located in the heart of Old Bisbee.
Founded by entrepreneur, artist and philanthropist Sloane Bouchever, Artemizia Foundation’s museum exhibits a collection of modern masters including Willem de Kooning and Pablo Picasso, juxtaposed with contemporary masters such as Andy Warhol, Ai Weiwei, Kara Walker, and Yayoi Kusama, alongside street art masters Banksy, Swoon, and Vhils, to provide 20th to 21st century perspective. The Foundation’s collection includes paintings, prints, and sculptures, as well as digital NFTs.
Perhaps most exciting is the diversity of the artists featured. The Foundation’s collection
of over 600 artworks by 90 artists from over 30 countries features an equal ratio of female to male artists, with artists of color making up nearly half.
Exclusively featuring the work of husband and wife Poe Dismuke and Sam Woolcott, SamPoe Gallery is a paradise of contemporary art. Sharing the space, you’ll bounce around from admiring Sam’s paintings and prints to pondering over Poe’s kinetic sculptures. Sam’s works—inspired by Bisbee’s architectural idiosyncrasies taken into a near-abstract form—shine new light, color, and perspective onto the old mining town’s famous style. Poe’s tabletop contraptions and mechanical marvels give new shape and form to ordinary objects and animals, and his pieces are crafted out of common materials used in ways most of us couldn’t conceive.
Broadway Stairs Gallery
Giving new life to a once-dark stairway alley off Bisbee’s Brewery Gulch, residents created a pop-up gallery and filled the surrounding walls with art. The Broadway Stairs Gallery is made up of funky thrift store finds and dumpster dives, so not only is the alley getting a second chance but the art is as well. The mix is definitely eclectic, and that just adds to the appeal. In a town known for being artsy and being quirky, this resident-made spontaneous gallery is the perfect representation of Bisbee.
Galleries at a Glance
Art Home 79 Main St.
Artemizia Foundation Museum 27 Main St.
Artemizia Annex Gallery 24 Main St.
Belleza Fine Art Gallery 27 Main St.
PanTerra Gallery 22 Main St.
55 Main Gallery 55 Main St.
J.F. Thamm Gallery 40 Main St.
Tang Gallery 32 Main St.
Main/Page Gallery 2 Main St.
SamPoe Gallery 33 Subway St.
Broadway Stairs Alley
Subway Gallery 47 Brewery Ave.
Central School 43 Howell Ave.