• Jamie Killian

Galleries, Classes, Supplies and Museums — Your guide to Gaston County's visual art

Gaston County’s art scene is more vibrant and dynamic than ever. From museums and green space to theaters and wine bars, the county is bursting at the seams with creative gems. However, Gaston County's art culture is not a new phenomenon.

John T. Biggers - Courtesy of the Houston Chronicle

Gaston County has a history rich in arts. Gastonia’s John Biggers (1924 - 2001) — after which the Gaston County Museum of Art & History has named an art award — came to prominence after the Harlem Renaissance and created artwork with ties to his southern heritage with a focus on the beauty of the ordinary and household. More recently, Gaston County native Bree Stallings has grown to local fame through her murals, speaking engagements and activism. You can find some of her recent work in downtown Gastonia.

Downtown Gastonia Flourish Mural - Photo Courtesy of Bree Stallings

Gaston County is a great addition to the already robust art scene in the Carolinas, like neighboring Charlotte, where local artists like Curt Butler are featured, and nearby Asheville. From Mount Holly to Dallas, there are many art galleries located here featuring local and regional artists. Some are well known artists but there is also the opportunity to discover someone up and coming and maybe try your hand at creating your own work of art.

AR Workshop

Photo Courtesy of AR Workshop

65 Glenway St., Belmont

Hours Vary

AR Workshop is a boutique workshop in downtown Belmont. The workshop welcomes both DIY and completed projects to their creative workshop. With a focus on wood pallet projects and other DIY classes, AR Workshop makes art accessible with an emphasis on teaching and interacting with class attendees. AR offers take-home kits, as well as night-out options and private parties. Check their website for current availability. Additionally, AR’s artists are happy to create custom pieces via their custom order form perfect for someone who appreciates art but isn’t into creating. AR workshop is operating on a virtual and in-person schedule. All participants must wear masks.

Art by J

Photo Courtesy of Art by J

1500 River Dr. Suite 256, Belmont

Hours Vary

Since 1985, Jeanine Dibble has been working to help children develop their artistic talents. The studio offers classes and camps on a variety of artistic techniques and mediums, including mixed media, sculpture and painting.

Arts on the Greenway

Photo Courtesy of Arts on the Greenway

500 E. Central Ave., Mount Holly

Saturdays 11 a.m. - 4 p.m

Arts on the Greenway (AOTG) , a cooperative arts organization, serves as an incubator for local emerging artists. Created with help from Mount Holly Community Development Foundation, AOTG offers studio and gallery space to emerging artists in and around Mount Holly. AOTG offers workshops, event space, and pop-up artist events. They also offer a number of classes including beginner crochet, watercolor, and figure drawing.

Awaken Gallery

Photo Courtesy of Go Gaston

107 W. Central Ave., Mount Holly

Tuesday - Saturday, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Awaken Gallery’s mission is simply to be there. It features a variety of artists who use their talents to “dig deeper.” Their artists use extensive symbolism within their works and try to relate to current worldly issues.

Photo Courtesy of Awaken Gallery

Awaken Gallery hosts a yearly Lantern Parade where artists and members of the community create lanterns, walking the streets of Mount Holly after nightfall. Themes have included Fairy Tale and Circus Animals and the community flexes their creative muscles, making the parade a well-attended event and successful artist attraction for those across the region. Check their Facebook page for an updated events schedule.

Bliss Gallery

Photo Courtesy of Bliss Gallery

25 N. Main St., Belmont

Wednesday - Saturday, 12 p.m. - 3 p.m.

Created by Holy Angels (the same organization behind the beloved Cherub's Cafe), Bliss Gallery is a non-profit organization for differently abled individuals. Bliss Gallery provides a space and opportunity for artists to showcase their talents. The gift shop features fine art reproductions and other items available for purchase, as well as selections from the original art displayed in the gallery.

Butler Studios

Photo Courtesy of Butler Studios

171 W. Main Ave., Gastonia

Hours Vary

Curt Butler is a Gaston County native who has taught art a variety of institutions, including Gaston Day School where he was named Teacher of the Year in 2004. He opened Butler Studios in downtown Gastonia in 2009 where he now teaches and paints full time. Find Butler Studios on YouTube

and check Facebook for class listings.

Christmastown Thomas Kinkade Signature Gallery

Photo Courtesy of Christmastown Thomas Kinkade Signature Gallery

129 Main St., McAdenville

Thursday - Friday, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.; Saturday - Sunday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

As the only Thomas Kinkade Signature Gallery in the greater Charlotte area, this downtown McAdenville shop is the perfect spot for finding rare Kinkade pieces. Additionally, the gallery sells paintings by other artists including Robert Finale. Check out their Facebook page for current offerings and upcoming events.

Gaston County Art Guild

Photo Courtesy of Gaston County Art Guild

204 E. Franklin Blvd. ​Suite 215, ​Gastonia

The Gaston County Art Guild (GCAG) was established in 1965 and continues to allow members access to a variety of discounted classes, workshops and events, with monthly members' meetings. GACG posts a monthly newsletter that details their current offerings and calendar of events. Interested in a membership? GCAC offers varying levels with a variety of perks to established and up-and-coming artists.

Gaston College — The Jeanne Rauch Gallery

Photo Courtesy of Gaston College Art Galleries

478-492 Tower Blvd., Dallas

Monday - Thursday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Friday 9 a.m. - noon

Gaston College offers an Associate Degree in Fine Arts, with students participating in a student show at the end of each semester. The art gallery features students and visiting artists, for rotating shows throughout the year. Using the spacious gallery to its full potential, students draw at a distance from one another in the space once filled with onlookers. As events take a different, more distanced turn, masked art lovers are able to peruse live exhibits while those choosing to stay home have the opportunity to experience shows online