Classic City Flourishes With Creativity in All Mediums

By Kimberly Daly on April 26, 2011 at 9:54 am EST
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PHOTO CREDIT: Ian Curcio

They don’t call it the Classic City for nothing. Modern-day Athens, Georgia has more in common with its ancient namesake than being a center of education. Today’s Athens is full of creative energy, as evidenced by the city’s world-renowned music scene, nightlife, art scene and festivals.

Athens was called Live Music Central by The New York Times, and Rolling Stone magazine, a little publication that knows a thing or two about music, named Athens the No. 1 music scene in America. Hot venues such as the 40 Watt Club and the Melting Point are named among Paste magazine’s list of Top 40 Music Venues in America. It’s no wonder then that Athens has been the breeding ground for such trend-setting bands as R.E.M., the B-52’s and Widespread Panic.

Visual arts get top billing in Athens as well, making it a top 25 arts destination among midsized cities by American Style magazine since 2002. The Georgia Museum of Art, located on the University of Georgia campus, houses more than 9,000 works of art with a focus on American painting by such artists as Winslow Homer, James Whistler, Georgia O’Keeffe and Andrew Wyeth.

Performing arts take center stage at such great venues as the Classic Center Theatre, which hosts Broadway productions and headlining tours. And the Chase Street Warehouse Complex, a recently renovated industrial space, is a hub of creative energy that houses galleries, workshops, dance studios and performance spaces.

There’s a new film house in town at Cine, an art house cinema screening independent and international films and devoted to being a “creative space for film, gathering and conversation.”

The ancient Greeks were known for festivals, but they had nothing on Athens’s full roster of celebrations throughout the year. The biggest of them all is AthFest, an annual festival showcasing Athens music and art, which features more than 170 bands and an artisan market. Arts Unleashed “takes the creative process out of the studio and into the public square,” with visual and performing artists doing their thing in the city’s streets, parks, library and other public places.

The Taste of Athens dishes up favorites from more than 50 local restaurants while festivalgoers at the Classic City Brew Fest can sample over 200 of the world’s best beers. Even bugs get their own festival in Athens, called Insectival, with garden hunts, races and the Insect Café.

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