St. Augustine is home to the oldest street in America: Aviles Street. Once upon a time, it was called Hospital Street because of the Spanish Military Hospital and other doctors' quarters were located here for centuries. It was also home to one of the first jails, a schoolhouse and the historic residence of military generals and the wealthy.
Today, it's chock-full of galleries, cafes and other shops. One of the musts when visiting St. Augustine is to stroll along Aviles, popping into cute shops and historic places along the route.
And one of the newest galleries on the scene to create a buzz is Amiro Art & Found.
Mixed media by Eleanor Hughs at Amiro — Photo courtesy of Amiro Art & Found
Their specialty at Amiro Art & Found is to present contemporary and folk art from several artists who use mediums such as painting, clay, collage and found objects in their work.
The art rotates frequently, but some recent work includes that from artist Duke Darnold, a historic preservationist who helped make historically accurate repairs to the Lightner Museum and Flagler College.
Darnold uses salvaged pieces in his whimsical sculptures, which may pair a porcelain doll head with found bits of brass, old coffee tins or pieces of furniture, giving them a new life and reason for admiration.
Jewelry by Marcia Myrick Siany and Lori Hammer also speaks to the idea of the old made new.
Jewelry by Lori Hammer — Photo courtesy of Amiro Art & Found
And the paintings by New Orleans artist Matteo Neivert are deeply interesting renderings of natural objects, such as plants and seashells, in a style he describes as magical realism. Intense color and off-beat arrangements of his subjects make his work hard to resist.
Amiro is just one of many interesting galleries to visit in St. Augustine. One of the best ways to take in the city's gallery scene is by attending the First Friday Art Walk, which happens every first Friday of the month from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
A collection of more than 30 galleries around the city, from Aviles to King Street and St. George Street and beyond, keep their doors open late and offer refreshments and even live entertainment. The idea is to get people to see the latest works available at these gallery and maybe even have a chance to meet the artists themselves.
There's little chance of getting bored, since the variety and quality of artwork is amazing: paintings, sculpture, photography, ceramics and even jewelry and textiles are in the mix, all made from a variety of techniques and sensibilities.
The art is made by both local and national artists and is set at several price points, making it easy for almost everyone to come away with something lovely and expertly made.
And you don't have to hoof it: Old Town Trolleys and Ripley's sightseeing trains offer free shuttle service along the gallery crawl.
Sculpture by Duke Darnold — Photo courtesy of Amiro Art & Found