art&culture magazine spring/summer 2016 v10i3

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The Richard and Pat Johnson Palm Beach County History Museum

Arts Garage downtown does not go all torpid in summer; its famously eclectic range of offerings – everything from concerts to plays to art exhibitions – continues, perhaps, on the theory that the next best thing to being under the boardwalk is being under the garage. And on a steamy night in South Florida, what could be better than listening to music in an air-conditioned boîte where you sit at a table and – instead of ordering from an expensive menu – eat (and drink) whatever you carried in? West Palm Beach has the Norton Museum of Art, of course, but there are smaller spaces where you can not only see but also create art. The Armory Art Center consists of three buildings, the main one a 1939 Art Deco beauty built as part of the WPA project and saved in the ’80s by artists who had been taking classes at the Norton. It sits facing a small park in the leafy Flamingo Park neighborhood; students enamored of dappled light need only step outside. The center offers classes to people of all ages 48 weeks a year – in everything from drawing to off-loom weaving – and summer camps for children from kindergarten through 12th grade. Exhibi-

tions are held in the former armory (pastels where military green once ruled) and are free and open to the public. Head downtown and stroll Clematis Street. Amidst the cafes and restaurants – outdoor tables moist with glasses – you’ll find Liberty Bookstore which, characteristic of small book shops, doesn’t waste a lot of space on junk. You’ll find high-quality titles – both new and rare – and a couch where you can rest and read. One block up, on the other side of the street, sits the Palm Beach Photographic Centre. Yes, here in the middle of the city, on its most commercial street, people can enjoy the art of photography. Step inside and check out the exhibition – this summer it’s on Pulitzer back stories (in honor of the prize’s centennial) – or sign up for classes. They’re geared to all levels, and cover everything from black-and-white printing to iPhone photography. The Richard and Pat Johnson Palm Beach County History Museum may seem, at first, like nothing more than a pretext for entering the old county courthouse. How many times have you passed the venerable, palm-