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What a place to live! Hannibal, Missouri

When I get inundated with information about an art fair, especially in a really small town I need to stop and take a look. Probably about 20 years ago some artists traveling through the Midwest discovered Hannibal, on the Mississippi, and started buying property and renovating schools, jails and other promising properties into homes and studios.

Recently they held an art fair and I received links about it even from the San Francisco Chronicle and this A.P. link from Atlanta:

HANNIBAL, Mo. — Nancy Lee Kaufman was prominent in the arts scene in chic Santa Fe, N.M., and later made her woven art along the ocean near San Diego. So how did she end up living in a previously condemned house near the railroad tracks in small-town Missouri? The short answer: By choice.

This June 7, 2012, photo shows items woven by artist Nancy Lee Kaufman in her shop in Hannibal, Mo. Kaufman moved from Santa Fe., N.M. to Hannibal after hearing other artists talk about living in the riverfront town known mostly for its favorite son, Mark Twain. (AP Photo/The Courier-Post, Mary Lou Montgomery)

Other artists began telling Kaufman about the burgeoning arts community in Hannibal, a Mississippi River town of 18,000 known mostly for favorite son Mark Twain. When she visited in 2005 she happened upon a once-gorgeous old downtown home overlooking the Mississippi River, an early 19th century building in such disrepair....
This June 7, 2012, photo shows artist Nancy Lee Kaufman in her shop in Hannibal, Mo. Kaufman moved from Santa Fe., N.M., to Hannibal after hearing other artists talk about living in the riverfront town known mostly for its favorite son, Mark Twain. (AP Photo/The Courier-Post, Mary Lou Montgomery)

This June 7, 2012, photo shows artist Steve Ayers in his shop in Hannibal, Mo. When Ayers opened his pottery shop in 1985 he was about the only artist in the riverfront town known mostly for its favorite son, Mark Twain. Twain still is the main draw for the half-million tourists who visit Hannibal each year, but now they get a bonus: A growing number of artists, many of national and international repute. (AP Photo/The Courier-Post, Mary Lou Montgomery)

Here is the link to the story from the Associated Press:

and more about their art fair:

and more:

Someone is doing a great job of promoting this town. I know a bunch of these people, including Steve Ayers. This is such a fine example of artists who are saving a town. Good job folks!

Does anyone have any other input on this or know of other places that are great places for artists to live?

Views: 1151

Comment by marie johnson on June 22, 2012 at 6:01am

We did a show there once.. So HOT and few people.. it is a nice town..

Comment by Rob Lorenz on June 22, 2012 at 9:06am

For a long time I had heard that Paducah, KY was becoming an artists' haven.  They even have an "artist relocation program" that offers housing/studio assistance and such. 

I recently did a show down there and talked to some of the locals, though and some of them seem to think that the Lowertown district (where the program is centered) is falling by the wayside.  Apparently a lot of the galleries that had opened are now closing up shop due to a lack of sales; there is not much local repeat business.  According to one gentleman the city used the program and the artists to rehab a rundown neighborhood then more or less forgot about them. 

There were others, however, who were talking about doing the same thing in another part of Paducah to compliment and expand the Lowertown district.  The Lowertown area and the town as a whole were nice, so it may still be a good place for artist. 

Comment by Caroline Kwas on June 22, 2012 at 9:15am

Where I just moved to, Gloucester, MA, specifically Rocky Neck, has long been an artists' colony.  But what I find interesting is how artists so often have the ability to turn places around, probably because we don't need (and can't afford?) the "best" apartments, houses, we can forgo a lot of what the rest of the world considers necessities in the pursuit of our art.  Then the buzz starts, people start coming around to see what the crazy artists are doing, it becomes hip and cool, then rents go up, and ...oops, artists become priced out of the communities they began.  It happened in Soho, Greenwich Village, Tribeca in the 50's-60's, now it's happening in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  Hmmm...maybe artists are the true wealth creators!!

Comment by David Kachel on June 22, 2012 at 11:00am

Sorta like people from California trying to escape the awful cost of living (not to mention the collectivist state) move to WA or OR and create...

an awful cost of living and a collectivist state.


Comment by deborah a. weaver on June 22, 2012 at 6:16pm

When my Husband ,Kevin and I, took our first road trip we went to Hannibal, Mo and stayed at LuLl BElls' Bed and Breakfast right on the Mississippi River and in the middle of the night one of the paddle wheel boats docked but not before blowing their whistle!!! I almost flew out of the window of our room !!!  But this little town is so great!!!! I still have a smal clay plaque that I bought from a little art shop there 12 years ago!!!  They were promoting Hannibal as an Artist Communty then, Happy to hear that this is still a growing artist community!!!!

Comment by David Kachel on June 23, 2012 at 1:07pm

Colleen, a "collectivist state" is one where the state/government holds all the rights, may or may not grant revocable privileges to the people and is of the opinion that the people are its/their property and responsibility. The ruling class believes they must look after their incapable and feeble minded subjects in order to protect them from themselves. They ALWAYS believe themselves to be the good guys, even AFTER they start construction of the inevitable death and internment camps.

Collectivist philosophies include Communism, Socialism, Naziism, Fascism and many other equally noxious but sometimes seemingly more innocent sounding idealogies that all lead to exactly the same place 100% of the time; extermination of a group of people easily blamed for all the country's troubles, perpetual war to keep the population always in fear and therefore willing to sacrifice liberty for safety and total impoverishment and enslavement of the populous not already murdered or imprisoned.

Comment by David Kachel on June 23, 2012 at 1:14pm

Oops, I forgot to mention: the people running the government live like rich Emperors.

Comment by don crozier on June 23, 2012 at 10:06pm

Let's get back to talk about Hannibal and other artist friendly towns, shall we?

Hannibal is going to be very interesting to watch. Living in the St Louis area, we get to Hannibal once every few years, the last time being 4-5 years ago. At that time, they had a few artists downtown, and a fall and a spring arts/craft fair. The fairs were so-so, if you were local, you could do okay, but it really wasn't worth driving any distance for, IMHO. The spring fair was cancelled a few years later. Then, we were at the St Louis Art Fair last year and noticed at least three artists were from Hannibal, which is pretty unusual considering the size of the town and the difficulty of being accepted into the fair. They weren't in off of the wait list, either. This year, we had good reports from their new spring fair,

and they're getting some very good press. We are in a gallery in Clarksville Missouri, in between Hannibal and St Louis, so we are all watching closely....

Comment by David Kachel on June 23, 2012 at 10:29pm

I am a little reluctant to say this but, OK...

I am in Alpine, Texas. Including my own, there are about 7-8 galleries here, depending on how you count them. I am of the opinion that Alpine is on the cusp of becoming a legitimate tourist attracting art town. Some think it is already there. I'm not convinced that is correct, but believe critical mass will be reached with only one or two more galleries.

Already famous Marfa, Texas is only 25 miles away but appeals to the upper crust, Emperor's new clothes, New York type of artist/collector so doesn't really have any relation except that some people who go to Marfa on purpose, stagger into Alpine by accident.   ;-)  

Another town, also about 25 miles away, Fort Davis has more of an art town feel, but definitely is not one. I think it has lots of potential and have considered moving my gallery there off and on, only because they have more tourist traffic.

In all you have three towns with good potential within about a 25 mile circle.

If you want to get in on the ground floor (a euphemism for "risk losing everything you have") there is a great deal of potential here and rents are very low compared to much of the rest of the country.

I guess the trick to creating an appealing art town without pricing all the artists right out of business is to make sure all the art is completely repugnant to rich people!! 


Comment by David Kachel on June 23, 2012 at 10:32pm

Colleen, I lived in CA for 12 years.


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