Located no more than 10 miles north of Sarasota proper in Bradenton, a colorful artist colony, known as the Village of the Arts, has taken root in the recent years, offering a diverse mix of quirky art studios and galleries, eclectic shops, restaurants, and even a microbrewery.
Bradenton’s Village of the Arts embodies a district revitalization gone right. Over the past 20 years, once-dilapidated pre-war bungalows have become a rainbow of lime green and electric yellow, an architectural vibrance mirroring the surrounding live-work community that puts artists front and center. A village-wide Artwalk is held on the first Friday and Saturday of each month, but no matter when you visit, don’t leave until you’ve glimpsed these points of interest around the neighborhood.
Frank Peter Antiques [1015 12th Street West]
This must-visit destination for lovers of the vintage and the obscure features items dating from the 1800s to mid-twentieth century. A recent sampling of the ever-changing inventory features nineteenth-century dinnerware, 1930s Tarzan comic books, framed lithographs, and Lucite bar stools. But plan ahead before you visit: The shop’s sole scheduled hours are on Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons.
Art Junkies [1130 12th Street West]
Mixed-media artist Mark Burrow turns trash-heap-bound scraps and salvage into one-of-a-kind treasures available at his 12th Street gallery, showcasing the hidden creativity of up-cycling. One recent creation involved turning plastic straws, plastic bags, and reclaimed wood into a wall-mounted turtle.,
Birdrock Taco Shack [1004 10th Avenue West]
Housed in a century-old cottage painted like a kaleidoscope and ornamented with old skateboard decks and other knickknacks, this casual eatery with a patio doles out some 17 gourmet tacos – and boulder-sized burritos – with off-beat ingredients like Peking duck, fried green tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, and lobster. Along with beer and wine, the menu features a range of vegetarian and vegan options, with most everything running less than $10.
Motorworks Brewing [1014 9th Street West]
A trip to the Village of the Arts demands a detour to this microbrewery’s taproom, open daily and pouring everything from lagers to coffee porter to seasonal brews. Pair a pint with what the food trucks outside are serving up and head home with a growler of Pulp Friction, Motorworks’ grapefruit IPA that won a gold medal at the Best Florida Beer Championship in 2017.
Forest to Finish Designs [1218 12th Avenue West]
Owner of this custom woodworking business, David Gay draws on a supply of reclaimed wood – and a mastery of hand tools and joinery – to craft farmhouse tables, headboards, coffee tables, architectural beams, holiday decorations, and other custom and one-of-a-kind woodcrafts. Call to schedule an appointment or visit during the village’s monthly Artwalks.
11th Street Gallery [1412 11th Street West]
This 1925 bungalow, which serves as both the studio for mixed media artist Jim Loftus as well as exhibition space for his works, is also the first stop on Bradenton’s Find-a-Shrine art tour. The 10-stop sojourn is based around spotting different public art installations – some quirky, some imposing, some inscrutable – at various galleries and points of interest around the village.
Jerk Dog Records [1119 12th Street West]
Whether your tastes run toward The Ramones or Pink Floyd, this small town record shop has an LP in its stacks just for you. Located in a cottage behind a picket fence festooned with 12-inch records, the shop features a spectrum ranging from new releases to rare singles to bargain-bin gems, and local bands frequently cram inside to make a ruckus.