Visit Winona’s Short List: Top 5 Places for Inspiring Art


It’s no secret that Winona is famous for the arts. The Great River Shakespeare, Midwest Music Fest, Minnesota Beethoven, and Frozen River Film Festivals all make headlines nation-wide. But those are just some of the many ways one can experience the arts when they come to Winona.

We asked one Winona community member where she goes to get inspired by art, and her choices range from the well-known to the maybe lesser well-known spots where the arts are featured pretty much every day of the year.

Sarah Johnson is a local artist, musician, and mental health professional based in Winona, MN. The number of ways she contributes to the arts in Winona are almost too numerous to list, but we’ll try anyway: Johnson fronts the rock-a-billy band The Old Fashioneds, she hosts concerts featuring a wide array of regional musicians at her home studio (The Really Livin’ Livingroom Series), she leads workshops at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum (The Art of Living/Riding the Wave), she’s an accomplished visual artist who’s latest project, Full Blooms Mural, can be found on the corner of Third and Lafayette Streets in Winona’s downtown (scores of folks have snapped selfies with the painting and posted to Instagram using the hashtag #fullbloomsmural check it out!), and she helps people achieve balance in their lives through art at her day job… 

Aaaaand she took the time to hang out with us at 5 of her favorite spots to get her art on in this edition of Visit Winona’s Short List! Here’s where we went.

  1. Jovy Rockey Jewelry – Studio + Gallery: One of the newest shops to open in downtown Winona, Jovy’s spot is an art-lover’s dream. Featuring more than 50 artists and artisans from Minnesota and beyond, its a perfect spot to find great gifts for loved ones and/or indulge yourself.
  2. The Minnesota Marine Art Museum: Housing works by many of the world’s great masters like Picasso, Van Gogh, O’Keeffe, Renoir, Monet, and many many more, the museum also features fantastic temporary exhibitions, workshops, and guided tours. Located right on the banks of the Mississippi River amongst beautiful prairie gardens, The MMAM showcases “Great Art Inspired by Water”.
  3. The Blue Heron Coffeehouse: A downtown Winona institution, this wonderful cafe provides Winonans and visitors with an abundance of homemade food and beverages made with love. With a focus on local and organic fare, The Heron is one of Winona’s most popular gathering spots. The walls are graced with stunning pieces by great local artists both in their permanent collection and in rotating shows.
  4. The Winona Public Library: The building housing the library is a work of art in its own right, a stunning domed neoclassical wonder built in the late 1890’s. It was designed to specifically include space for public art, including a gallery, sculptures, stained glass, and murals like The Light of Learning by Kenyon Cox. Much of the publicly-held art belonging to the City of Winona can be found here.
  5. Ed’s (no name) Bar: This downtown pub opened in 2007 with a mission to provide Winonans with craft beer, cocktails, live music, and visual art- as well as to give artists a place to share their creations. From the mainstream to the avant garde, this unique local joint has been at the forefront of Winona’s burgeoning art scene.

Of course, Sarah’s list contains just a snippet of all the spots where you can find art in Winona. If art is your jam, you can also check out traditional gallery spaces like The Paul Watkins Gallery at Winona State University, The Lillian Davis Hogan Gallery at St. Mary’s University, and the Winona Arts Center. If you like to sip a cup of joe with your art, The Acoustic Cafe and Blooming Grounds Coffeehouse both feature rotating exhibitions. St. Mary’s Page Theatre’s lobby is a great spot to view exhibitions by well-regarded local artists, and of course, we need to mention the stained glass Winona is famous for found all across our city, from the majestic churches, to the banks, to public buildings, and more.  Winona also has its share of public art outdoors, from community murals like Johnson’s to the iconic Princess Wenonah Fountain in Windom Park, and too many more to list in between.

Did we miss some spots? For sure… but there’s so much art in Winona we’re practically bursting at the seams!

Want to get inspired? Well then, Visit Winona!

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