Winston-Salem is the 4th largest city in the state with a population of about a quarter of a million people within the city limits. Winston-Salem itself has only been around since 1913 when the cities of Salem and Winston were combined. Salem was established as a Moravian Village in 1753. The city of Winston was established in 1849 in large part from part of land deeded from Salem and the Reynolds family and their JR Reynolds Tobacco empire helped establish the city. Today this city artfully combines high tech with the history that made this town what it is. It has been named one of the top 10 places to retire and is considered one of the top arts communities in the country.
Today the city of Old Salem where the city first began to form can still be seen. They have an impressive collection of houses and business that date from 1766 to 1850. Visitors can step inside these rustic yet beautiful buildings to find out how the Moravians who first settle here lived. The village is also home of MESDA (Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts) as well as the Old Toy Museum. There is admission to gain entrance to the buildings. But you can simply stroll the historic streets at your leisure. Visitors can dine at the Old Salem Tavern and visit several stores without an admission fee. You need to plan a whole day here. Their web site is www.oldsalem.org
Historic Bethabara Park offers visitors over 250 years of history. It includes the 1788 Moravian Gemeinhaus, a 175 acre wilderness reserve, a 1754 village and fort, and 18th century gardens. Their website is www.bethabarapark.org.
The Reynolda House offers some of the best examples of American Art as well as offers the visitor a glimpse of the life of the wealthy at the turn of the 20th century. The 1917 bungalow mansion was the home of tobacco magnet Richard Reynolds and his wife Katherine. The home was featured on Americans Castles. The home and art museum can be toured for a fee. The grounds of this stunning mansion, its gardens, and the village Katherine established, Reynolda Village, can be enjoyed for free. Their website is www.reynoldahouse.org.
Downtown Winston-Salem you will find the famed Avenue of the Arts highlighting dozens of galleries and studios of local artists. Here you will the Piedmont Craftsmen (www.piedmontcraftsmen.org) who show cases over 350 of the top Southeastern craftspeople. They feature a different artist every month to highlight. The Downtown Arts District Association (www.dadaws.org) features gallery crawls, classes, and entertainment for the downtown arts community. Glass master, Jon Kuhn, maintains his studio downtown on Liberty St. (www.kuhnstudio.com). His works are displayed as part of the White House collection, the National Museum of Art, the Carnegie Museum, and MOMA. Using a different medium from my other favorite master glass artist, Dale Chihuly, Jon uses cold glass to bring life to his works of art. Surrounding the downtown arts community you will find wine bars, coffee shops, and chic and trendy restaurants.
SECCA (Southeastern Center for Contemporary Arts) www.secca.org celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2006 as one of the premier collections of regional and national contemporary artist.
Winston-Salem is home to some of the best colleges in the states. Among those is the prestigious, Wake Forest University which is home to MOA (Museum of Anthropology) www.wfu.edu/moa. Winston-Salem State University proudly hosts the largest display of African Arts in the state at the Diggs Gallery. www.wssu.edu. Both galleries are open to the public. There is also the NC School of the Arts where some of the best future artists are studying even as we speak. They hold public tours of the campus and performances for the public. Their website is www.ncarts.edu.
The Delta Fine Arts showcases art by nationally recognized NC native African-American women. Included in their collection are two major murals, Origins and Ascensions by John and James Biggers. These can be seen at the O’Kelley Library housed on the Winston-Salem State campus. www.deltafinearts.org. For the wee ones in your group there is SciWorks which is a hand on science museum for children of all ages (yes big ones too). Their website is www.sciworks.com.
For almost 30 years now the Piedmont Opera Theater has been delighting opera fans in the region. Winston-Salem is also home of the Winston-Salem Symphony . You can visit them on the web at www.piedmontopera.org and www.wssymphony.org.
Winston-Salem celebrates the arts year round with celebrations of music and art. From May to September music finds its way through out the downtown area in a series of outdoor concerts. Alive After Five is found every Thursday evening. Every Friday celebrate Jazz and Blues at Fourth St. Jazz & Blues. And every Saturday celebrate live music on Trade St.
There is plenty of celebration of culture on the calendar. It kicks off in January with the Chinese Festival at Wake Forest. Naturally the Irish Festival, also at Wake Forest, celebrates the month of green and St. Patty. May brings Celtic Music and the Greek Festival and in September try the Fiesta! Hispanic Festival. Go to www.winstonsalemevents.org.
Two of the premier arts festivals in the country can be found in Winston-Salem. In March movie fans from all over come to the RiverRun International Film Festival which is a celebration of independent and student films. It was started by actor Vincent D’ Onofrio of Law & Order CI fame. The National Black Theater Festival celebrates many art forms and is one of the top events celebrating black cultural and even hosts well known celebrities such as Dr. Maya Angelou. Oprah, Louis Gossett. Jr. and the late Ossie Davis and his wife Ruby Dee . The event is held biannually on odd numbered years (next one is 2009). You can get an early start by going to www.nbtf.org.
Wine and the arts can often be found together. Nearby is the famed Yadkin Valley wine country. You can tour these lush fields just like in the other wine country of CA. They offer wine tasting and tours and some offer meals. You can stay at quaint B&B in the heart of it all. There are several celebrations throughout the year that marry both the arts and the fruits of the fields. You can go to www.yadkinvalleywineries.com for more information.
So whew..there you go as I have only begun to starch the surface of this most artful of towns. To find out all about the arts in Winston-Salem simply click onto www.visitwinstonsalem.com and check out everything this fine city has to offer.