Newport isn’t a large city, so it’s home to a surprising amount of quality galleries when you consider its size. Here are our five picks for art galleries to visit in Newport. Be sure to check the gallery’s website or social media for current hours.
Newport Art MuseumOne of Rhode Island’s precious few art museums, the Newport Art Museum is housed in a “stick style,” Richard Morris Hunt-designed building that sports multiple galleries. Exhibits rotate every few months. Some explore historical personalities, while others focus on contemporary trends. Group shows are often fun, with a variety and freshness that can be hard to find in regional museums. The museum itself feels spacious and inviting, with one gallery reached via a pleasant stroll outdoors. (76 Bellevue Ave)
Coastal Contemporary GalleryLocated along the bustling traffic (pedestrians and cars) of Thames Street, this progressive gallery is in the heart of Newport. Coastal Contemporary features a diverse roster of artists in smartly curated exhibitions. A rotating selection of artists work boldly with materials and ideas. Everything from figurative work to colorful abstraction to conceptual, thinking-friendly art is tastefully represented. A small, intimate space, it’s worth visiting if your find yourself on Thames Street (which, if you’re in Newport, you probably will). (491 Thames St)
Atelier NewportAdmirers of abstract art will appreciate Atelier Newport’s showcase of paintings, sculptures, prints and other media of an abstract nature. Expect energetic drawings, frenzied line work, unexpected textures and minimalist palettes. The gallery showed many group shows when it first opened, but recent years have seen a number of solo shows that highlight the work of a single artist. Located on Bellevue Avenue, this gallery is only a short walk from the Newport Art Museum, making it easy to visit both in an afternoon. (200 Bellevue Ave)
Jessica Hagen Fine Art & DesignLocated on a quiet side-street in downtown Newport, this lively gallery hosts an assortment of paintings, sculptures, photographs, jewelry and ceramics in rotating exhibits. The interior design influence is obvious in the artworks shown, with each exhibit an exercise in thoughtful presentation. The art itself is always well-produced, polished and professional. Gallerist Hagen has an eye for paintings especially, which she hangs with poise on the gallery walls. (9A Bridge St)
Jamestown Arts CenterWhile there are several more traditional galleries in Newport proper, a quick jaunt over the Newport Bridge will bring you to Jamestown—and a truly exciting gallery. The Jamestown Arts Center was once a boat repair shop, and now the cavernous space houses rotating exhibits of art that frequently delight, question and impress. Genres and media span a broad range; the JAC has shown everything from performance art to fabric art. Well-known among local artists but located in a rather sleepy part of Rhode Island, this one’s a hidden gem that’s worth the trip. (18 Valley St, Jamestown, RI)
By A. Castro