California is known the world over for being a world-class destination for arts and culture. It’s considered one of the principal hotbeds of creativity, a state with unmatched diversity, and the best place to indulge in the entrepreneurial spirit. California is the place to go to get inspired.
But don’t just stick to art and music that you’re used to. If you want to grow as an artist, you’ll need to examine and respect cultural art. It’ll help you see things from a different perspective.
How to Explore California’s Culturally Diverse Art Scene
Music and art can help us do everything from concentrating on studying to calming our minds, but you need to let it in first. Here’s how to explore California’s culturally diverse art scene.
Visit a Local Art Gallery or Music Museum
California is one of the most popular tourist spots in the west, so it’s no surprise that there are plenty of art exhibits and museums to explore. Several of these museums, like the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in LA, feature pieces from POC and non-white creators.
Plenty of art galleries in San Francisco are listed as the best in the city or even the best in the state. Many of them combine music and art seamlessly in one building, like the San Francisco Music Hall of Fame or the Beat Museum. We recommend checking out both when you can.
Examine the Cultural Influences on Music
California is home to many world-class musicians and genres. Surf rock and third-wave ska have their origins in California, but we can’t forget about the many cultural influences that make up California’s music scene—Indigenous, Mexican, and Latin American music, to name a few.
Music historians can date American folk music back to the 1930s and 40s when West Coast blues and Western swing were all the rage. Through the decades, California became known for folk-pop, country-rock, psychedelic, hip-hop, hair metal, G-funk, thrash metal, and pop-punk.
From Surf City to California Dreaming, there are plenty of songs that represent the vibe that California presents. Or, check out California greats like Dr.Dre, Beach Boys, and Metallica.
Catch a Show and See the Sights
The only way to truly soak up the Californian art and music scene is to jump right in. We recommend starting with the biggest tourist attractions first, and not just because they’re popular. These attractions set the mood for the niche art scene you’ll experience afterward.
Some must-sees in California include the Sunset Strip, RockWalk, Amoeba Music, Grammy Museum, Capitol Records, and the Los Angeles Music Center. If you have time, check out a live performance at the Hollywood Bowl, which has seen live performances from The Beatles.
The best way to experience local music? Go to a local bar. The Cinema Bar, Rhythm Room LA, Bar Bohemien, The Lincoln, and Harvelle’s Blues Club are great places to hear live music.
Stick to Local Events and Concerts
We’ve already mentioned California’s diverse culture, but instead of expecting it to come to you, you have to go to it. Fortunately, California has plenty of unique ethnic neighborhoods that frequently put on art and music events, like the SoCal Asian & Pacific Islander Festival.
While many of these neighborhoods (like Little Armenia, Filipinotown, and Little Ethiopia) are in Los Angeles proper, you can find plenty of great neighborhoods outside of it. Consider going to Cambodia town in Long Beach, Chinatown in Sacramento, and Little Manila in Stockton.
Visit a Small Californian Art Town
California is so famous for its art that plenty of small towns have popped up throughout the state that put you face-to-face with cultural art and artists. For example, Chico is one of the best cities for modern art lovers and features exhibitions of experimental and contemporary pieces.
But to really appreciate these scenes, you need to experience the more popular art scene of the more populated centers, like Los Angelus or San Francisco. From there, you can branch out to Mendocino, a town filled with artists, and Ukiah, a town known for its First Friday Art Walk.
And you don’t have to stop there. Ojai, Idyllwild, and Laguna Beach all have something unique to offer artists and art admirers, and we recommend seeing as many towns as you can.
California’s art and music scene is difficult to experience in a single trip. It’s so incredibly varied and unique that it deserves multiple visits. But whether you enjoy looking at artistic paintings or listening to new music, there’s something in California that will suit your visionary whimsy.
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