I had time during this gorgeous weekend to get a little exploring in. I found myself in Durham walking around the inspirational Golden Belt and the artist galleries there. Have you been yet? I lived in the DC metro area for years and fondly remember the Torpedo Factory in Old Town Alexandria. The Golden Belt reminds me of that, just a little younger and smaller.
This area is an old warehouse that has been convereted into large and many artist studios. Head down to the big number 3, walk in the door, and you enter a U-shaped corridor flanked on either side by studios. The artists here work in a variety of mediums: photography, painting, letterpress, jewelry, film, metalsmithing, and more. They are all active, each studio laid out differently, and incredibly inspiring. In the middle is a gallery displaying work.
I was here on a gorgeous Saturday morning which meant that a lot of the artists themselves were out enjoying and not working in their studios. But during a weekday most of these spots are filled with activity, I am told. The Golden Belt also runs events of all kinds but always feature art and collaboration. The new location of The Scrap Exchange is across the street and they participate in many of these big events, too. The premiere series at the Golden Belt is the Third Friday event. These run from 5:30 – 9:30 pm every third Friday of the month. Artists come out and work, new paintings are displayed, new galleries open, and then beyond that who knows what other exciting art event will be featured (as of the posting of this article the next Third Friday is October 19th). I am told that the other good time to get in and see the artists at work (and purchase your own special art piece to take home) is First Wednesdays from 11 am – 4 pm. Note that even if artists aren’t working, you can still look in nearly all of the studios and see some really beautiful original pieces.
The Golden Belt is currently the home of the “cow barn.” Here cows from CowParade NC go to be fixed or otherwise retired. Since the auction is coming up February 2nd (is it weird that I REALLY want a cow?) all the cows around the Triangle are making their way here. Accordingly, the room is packed with cows of all kinds. I loved this! But it won’t last long so if you want to see it get over there. I couldn’t get in to the room as it was closed but it was a lot of fun peeking in from all angles and you can see so many.
There isn’t much around the Golden Belt as far as food and drink goes. However, there is a cafe on site at Golden Belt called Blend. Blend sells coffee, has some options for a glass of wine, has pastries and light fare for lunch, and they also have some frozen yogurt! This isn’t a frozen yogurt shop of the caliber of Moonberries or Sweet Frog or Tutti Frutti but it will make kids (and moms) happy. Blend also has an area of board games and books to enjoy. There isn’t a ton of seating but you shouldn’t have too hard a time finding a spot. (FYI my crew and I ended up driving quickly over to Geer Street to get some fries since we were not about being healthy but Blend was certainly enticing and staff was very friendly.)
Golden Belt has easy free parking and some tables on the plaza outside. It’s a fun little spot to explore, especially if you can time it to see the artists working. Who knows, it may even inspire your kids to come home and get crafty!
807 East Main Street