How does a person define beauty? Can it be calculated through the measurements of shapes and lines, how patterns and wavelengths interact with the senses to elicit a combination of chemical reactions? Is it more qualitative, that which draws deep emotions almost involuntarily in a given individual, those uncertain moments where pain and joy somehow become a blur? However it may be defined, beauty seems to be determined in a personal way but it can be agreed that art allows for one of the purest expressions of emotion possible, a way to communicate more deeply than words can achieve. Today, we’ll walk along the winding ways of Art Street.
Art Street in downtown Gwangju is one of the more relaxed and calm parts of the city which is very surprising considering its location. This in itself is quite unique but the offerings and possibilities within the shops are the real reason for coming here. Many of the shops here double as studios for the artists who sell their work along the avenue. From sculptures, classic paintings, calligraphy, and handmade pottery, nearly any taste can be satisfied here in some fashion. Along with the independent artistic works being sold along this street, there’s also a great selection of antique stores, curio shops, accessory stores, and a few unique cafes to rest your feet after trying to take it all in.
For those who want a little more than a nice spot to shop for one of a kind gifts, there are a few shops that offer lessons in different art forms, the most popular being one of the local potters. The store Muanyo on Art Street houses and sells some fantastic pottery while also offering regular classes on the basics of how to craft your own pottery. One of the more popular classes here is the Saturday classes for beginners where not only do you learn the basics of pottery, but you get to have your work fired as a keepsake. Even if it isn’t a sculpture worthy of an art gallery the first time out, it’s a great feeling when you’re able to craft something by hand and have that memory of trying something new at your fingertips. For information, call 062-234-7487 or just swing by Muanyo at the heart of Art Street.
Getting to Art Street is very easy from downtown. At the park at the corner of Geumnamno 4, head east away from the river towards Daein Market for about half a block, staying on the south side. Not far up, you’ll see signs for the street across from a Buddhist temple. The street itself runs parallel to the river in a north-south direction but the easiest way to know you’re there is the wavy pattern of bricks that make up the road in place of the normal pavement. There is also a bus stop for the Art Street entrance that many of the downtown buses will go to as well.
Even if you’re not the most enlightened critic of art (which is a pretty pointless claim to make anyway), Art Street has a great blend of small gifts for friends and family, classic and contemporary art, as well as a very personal feel knowing that the work done here in many cases comes from the skill of local crafters. For anyone who has yet to get there, this is one crooked trail that deserves a slow stroll.