Midwest art
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A region as full of artful surprises as the small car with the big personality

By Jenny Komenda

You’re used to turning heads in your Chevrolet Spark, with its spunky aesthetics and flashy, expressive hue. It’s eye candy, after all—named Coolest New Car Under $18,000 of 2013 by Kelley Blue Book’s KBB.com. Now it’s your turn to do the looking: The Midwest has designs on you.

Milwaukee and Northern Wisconsin
Start in Milwaukee and check out the nine blocks of Brady Street that were once home to early Polish, German, and Irish immigrants. Built in the late 1800s, the buildings along this stretch are now home to hipster art galleries, cafés, and vintage clothing and music stores. If you’re lucky enough to visit in summer, be sure to check out the Lakefront Festival of Art on the shores of Lake Michigan, put on each June by the Milwaukee Art Museum and filled with food, fine art and folk music. If you happen to be in the area in July or October, don’t miss Northwood’s Art Tour, where more than 30 of northern Wisconsin’s artists open their doors to the public. This self-guided, interactive event gives visitors an intimate peek into the studios, and even in some cases the homes, of potters, painters and photographers.

Northern Michigan and Chicago, Illinois
From Manitowoc in northern Wisconsin, take the car ferry to Ludington, Michigan; spend a night in Pentwater at The Hexagon House, boasting vast wrap-around porches right on Lake Michigan; and in the morning jump on the Lake Michigan Circle Tour for a serious road trip. This course covers 1,100 miles through Michigan, Indiana and Illinois—ensuring you’ll see a lot of the picturesque Midwest in one fell swoop. Make sure to stop in Chicago to see some incredibly famous public art: Picasso’s 50-foot-tall Tête de Femme, Calder’s red curvilinear Flamingo and Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate, also known as The Bean, to name but a few of the statuesque sculptures on display. Your Spark’s compact size makes parallel parking a breeze.

Iowa
The Midwest is also known as a destination for some incredible junking and picking, and Iowa seems to have a knack for both. Elbridge is home to The Junk Asylum, a market filled to the brim with modern treasures. From old neon letters to chippy wood doors—you’ll leave with all manner of quirky design finds you’ve always wanted and never needed. And of course we can’t mention picking without hailing Antique Archeology’s American Pickers. These guys started their first shop in LeClaire, Iowa! All their “picks” are sold directly through their shops (they have one in Tennessee, too). So head to Iowa, bargain a bit and maybe uncover a few places to do some picking of your own! It’s a good thing your Spark has more than 31 cubic feet of cargo room: plenty of space for all your finds.

The trademarks mentioned in this story are held by their respective owners.

Jenny Komenda is a design blogger and decorator. Her work has been recognized by Elle Decor, Better Homes and Gardens, Vogue, House and Home, Good Housekeeping and HGTV, among others. She blogs at Little Green Notebook.

This is the third in a series of Innovative Design Drive stories on Chevy Culture.
Innovative Design Drives Part 1: Desert Destinations
Innovative Design Drives Part 2: The Southeast

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