Fayetteville’s beloved Terra Studios is newly renovated and reopened to the public after an 18-month hiatus, and they’re ready for you to fall in love all over again.
Art lovers of all kinds, rejoice! There’s nowhere on Earth like Terra Studios, and the non-profit’s recently refreshed team is ready to help you find your happy place.
Though the world looks different today, Terra Studios is still the great, creative, freaky, funky, whimsical art park where millions have created memories, and it’s not looking to change that mission. The wonderland of art inspires creativity in all who visit, capturing hearts with its six-acre art park, thoughtful gallery, and live artist demonstrations. It should come as no surprise that this family-friendly destination is a wildly popular Fayetteville tourist attraction - if you don’t believe it, you’ll just have to see Terra Studios for yourself!
When you visit Terra Studios, you’re doing something much larger than simply soaking in the sights: you’re supporting local artists, heritage art, and the Northwest Arkansas community. And when you shop the gallery (it’s a gallery, not a “gift shop” -- though there are affordable pieces abound, everything you see and touch is handmade art!), you’re shopping local. Plus, everything you spend with the 501(c)(3) nonprofit is put directly back into Terra Studios so they can achieve their mission to “use art to create a better world”! Win-win!
During the studio’s forced recess, the gallery and grounds got a boost with some much-needed structural upgrades. The Woodlands also have new, wider paths, and Art Park projects are back in full swing. Terra Studios’ recognizable castle has had a super colorful makeover with added detailing, and families will be glad to see freshly painted playhouses for the little ones to explore. John Ward (son of Terra Studios founders Leo and Rita and accomplished artist of many years) has a brand-new installation lining the entryway sidewalk of the Art Park plus several new pieces inside the gallery. As in years past, Terra Studios Art Park is replete with sculpture gardens, large-scale murals, sparkling glasswork, fantastical creatures, and playful fountains that are loved by visitors of all ages. Even your dog friends are welcome - when accompanied by conscientious owners prepared to clean up after them, of course! It’s truly an unparalleled park, nestled in rolling Arkansas hills and built up through the work of hundreds of local artists contributing their creations to the premises over the years.
Returning visitors can expect a few other surprises the next time they drop by, including an exhibit that’s nearly 2 years old, but thanks to COVID has not been seen by most guests: “The Better World Mural”. This one-of-a-kind environmental mural melds the individual works of 19 local artists into one piece and hopes to inspire viewers to act in their local communities to achieve sustainability goals for a better world. As you might expect, it’s very Fayetteville and very Terra Studios, in the best of ways. The mural was also the catalyst that prompted the end of an era: in January 2020, after 37 years and over 8 million Bluebirds of Happiness, Terra Studios opted to suspend the creation of their iconic handcrafted glass bluebirds. Due to the environmental crisis, Terra Studios is in search of a more sustainable means of production, but until then a surplus stock of bluebirds is available onsite and online, created prior to the silencing of the furnaces.
In the meantime, the space formerly used as the bluebird demo area is now housing demonstrations by resident artists Maura Miller and Holly Roomsburg. The demonstrations rotate through a variety of mediums - pottery, painting, claywork, crochet, and more - so there is something for everyone to enjoy! The demonstrations are interactive and informal, with plenty of time and space for onlookers to ask questions, watch the process, and learn about different artistic techniques. For now, Terra Studios is doing an artist demonstration on most weekends, but plans to ramp up the number of demo events they offer into the spring.
Terra Studios is not offering guided tours again yet, but are still welcoming large groups to do self-guided tours and will supply printouts, maps, historical information, and notes on select art pieces to anyone that wants to supplement their exploration. You can finish your tour with a visit to the on-site cafe, which offers locally roasted coffee and light refreshments like quiches and locally-crafted desserts. Both tours and the cafe are expected to grow into the spring, along with the ability to offer classes, hire teachers, and supply volunteer opportunities to connect with the community, all of which staff at Terra Studios are greatly looking forward to.
While you’re visiting, be sure to stop by the gallery to pick up something special. Terra Studios offers an online store with shipping, but they also have special odd colored (not-blue) bluebirds and other specialty items that are exclusively available to in-person visitors. Even if you don’t take anything home, you won’t want to miss the sunlit sparkles of the glass throughout the gallery -- take a peek!
Terra Studios is open Wednesday-Sunday from 11am-4pm. Admission is free but donations are welcome! Masks are required inside the gallery.
To learn more about the wonderful things offered by Terra Studios and to shop their online store, please visit their website. You can also follow all of their artful adventures on Facebook and Instagram.