Nevada County Arts: Where Art Grows

FROM GRASS VALLEY AND NEVADA CITY to Truckee, you can experience a wealth of arts and culture any day of the week.

There’s a steady stream of concerts, film festivals, dance performances, poetry readings and studio tours—an embarrassment of riches that rivals a much larger metropolis.

Most nights you can enjoy live music—at historic theaters or arts venues, as well as restaurants, cafes, bars or coffee houses.

While there, you also can view the work of talented local artists, because it is usually hanging on the walls. Nevada County has more artists per capita than any other county in California.

The theaters, galleries and coffee houses integrate the arts into everyday life, but countless festivals, concerts and live theater give locals and visitors the chance to see big- city talent in intimate venues.

The Nevada Theatre, Miners Foundry Cultural Center and The Center for the Arts in Grass Valley host performers from Chris Isaak and Johnny Winter to regional live theater and local dance groups.

Live theater is also thriving—with LeGacy Productions, Off Broadstreet, Ewing Ventures, Sierra Stages, the Community Asian Theatre of the Sierra (CATS), the Performing Arts Guild (PAG) and Paul Emery Presents.

Last year the Sacramento Area Regional Theater Alliance nominated local theater groups for 11 prestigious Elly Awards. The county also has rich offerings of classical music, including Music in the Mountains, Sierra Master Chorale and InConcert Sierra.


Galleries may well rival fishing holes and ski runs in Nevada County. There’s fine-art photography and original oil paintings (Truckee’s Carmel Gallery is a standout), as well as Native American art (featured at Lilly Vigil’s American Art Gallery in Nevada City).

Other galleries include co-ops such as Grass Valley’s Art Works and ASiF (Artists’ Studio in the Foothills); and Truckee’s Riverside Studios and Artisans Market Place. Some feature contemporary art, such as Nevada City’s Mowen Solinsky Gallery or Truckee’s Art Obsessions.

In addition to the showrooms, the work of local artists is displayed at restaurants and coffee houses, including Broad Street Bistro and Matteo’s Public in Nevada City, Summer Thyme’s Bakery & Deli in Grass Valley and Coffeebar in Truckee.

The county’s wine-tasting rooms—from Avanguardia to Szabo Vineyards—also feature local art.

Throughout the year, there are fairs, festivals and special events. In May, Grass Valley presents the 30th annual Sierra Festival of the Arts.

In June, the Nevada County Fairgrounds hosts the 37th annual California Bluegrass Association’s Father’s Day Bluegrass Festival, reputed to be one of the best bluegrass festivals in the nation.

July brings the Children’s Festival to Nevada City, and the Sierra Storytelling Festival to North San Juan, while Grass Valley hosts California Worldfest.

For more information about the arts in Nevada County, visit

(“Nevada County Children’s Festival,” by Katie Wolff; Nevada Theatre by Dave McLellan)

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