Who knows what it is about our great state that seems to cultivate creative minds, but there are spots all across the state where artists seem to have gathered. These small towns offered a place to work and be inspired and for artists big and small, and they’ve created a haven for creation. Something about the beautiful scenery, fresh air, and local landscape brought people together and now these small towns are a great place to go appreciate art, browse galleries and small shops and be inspired.
Cambridge is famous for its pottery, and in the late 1980s the community carried the title of "salt glaze pottery capital of the world." Now there are a number of pottery studios in the area. Come to learn a thing or two, try your hand, or just shop for some stunning pieces.
This small town of just 1,500 people is now a well-known artist's community, thanks in part to the Iron Horse Gallery Cooperative. The original group of five artists has grown to 17, creating paintings, fused glasswork, photographs, jewelry and scarves, among other things. It's also a great place if you love architecture. There are 33 buildings here on the National Historic Register.
This spot just 20 minutes north of Milwaukee is like a step to another dimension. It's so close to a big city, but the quaint Main Street makes you feel far away from that reality. The shops here are chock full of local art and creations. Don't be surprised if you see plein air artists working here in warmer months.
4. New Glarus
Maybe less traditionally artsy than some of the others on this list, this slice of Switzerland has elevated from gimmicky tourist spot to high-end country destination. There are small artisan shops here with everything from homemade cards to large pieces of furniture and cabinetry. Farm-to-table restaurants and old-school bakery and more have drawn the creative types here for years.
The peace and beauty of the Northwoods and the inspiration to be found in the Apostle Islands make Bayfield a magnet for creative folks. There's an awesome artists cooperative and in July, a weekend arts festival that even highlights those using materials that are locally sourced.
The Stockholm Art Fair has been showcasing local talent for more than 40 years. This small town has all the charm and kindness you could ever want, and its spot on the Mississippi and near Maiden Rock give plenty of inspiration.
There's a whole mural walk here in Ashland with inspiring art all around town telling the area's history.
8. Spring Green
The same stunning beauty that inspired Frank Lloyd Wright serves as fodder for local artists. With Taliesin and the American Players' Theater, this is a town attuned to creativity and the arts.
The ebb and flow of tourism in Door County makes it a great spot for artists, who can use much of the year to create and then the busy summer months to have their galleries open. Ephraim seems to have drawn many artists and the Anderson Warehouse and its graffiti are an outward example of all the creative sensibilities here.
10. Mineral Point
Home to the Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts and School of Arts and Crafts, there are more than two dozen artists living and working in this former mining town turned artists' enclave.
Columbus is home to both artists and authors. This little town northeast of Madison has numerous galleries as well as a strong antiquing history.
In Lancaster, it's all about the architecture, from the Grant County Courthouse to the restored movie theater. It's a beautiful slice of history that provides all kinds of inspiration.
Murals all over town tell their history and show how important art is in this small community near Sheboygan. There are art galleries and boutiques as well as the Plymouth Arts Center.
Where’s your favorite small, artsy town in Wisconsin? Let us know in the comments!
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