‘Can you recommend a good local gallery?’ I’ve been asked this question a few times now by fellow travellers. And as I point each and every one of them in the direction of the single gallery I know a little bit about, I always feel disappointed with myself. Truth is, I’ve only visited a shamefully small handful of the private and community focused art spaces Chiang Mai has to offer. I’ve seen plenty of street art on my wanderings, but I’ve rarely ventured inside a studio, let alone attended any kind of opening. This is Thailand’s cultural capital after all, so why haven’t I kicked myself into gear yet!?
The launch of Chiang Mai Art Map couldn’t have come at a better time for me, now that I’m finally getting a feel for the city’s geography and gaining more confidence in talking to locals. Designed to guide tourists and locals alike across the city’s art-related terrain, the map is a free resource that includes listings, bios and gallery descriptions, all laid-out in an easy-to-follow, simplified diagram of the Old City and outer districts. No excuses now: With my Art Map in hand, it’s time to trace a path along Chiang Mai’s unofficial art trail.
About Chiang Mai Art Map
The Art Map project is the brainchild of not-for-profit Chiang Mai Art Conversations (CAC), an artist-run initiative that launched in 2013. Up until now, CAC has been responsible for curating information about local artists, art spaces and events on its website. The Art Map represents the group’s first foray into print. As well as reinforcing Chiang Mai’s art scene in the short-term, CAC has a much broader long-term vision:
Ultimately, we hope that the relationship of our online platform and offline collaboration will function as value added, the strength of art career activity, and knowledge of art, economics, and society in Chiangmai and neighbouring provinces. It may extensively lead to a proper cooperation with the government.
In my opinion, this project represents a huge step forward for CAC in achieving its objective. Anything that helps independent artists reach a wider audience and promotes engagement with non-profit community spaces is a good thing in my books. Art of all kinds is an important part of Chiang Mai’s cultural landscape, and it’s a major tourist draw card in and of itself. Soon, anyone will be able to pick up a copy of the map for free from locations around Chiang Mai and Bangkok.
Chiang Mai Art Map launch party
On September 5, we attended the launch of Chiang Mai Art Map at the Chaiyo Hotel in Nimman. Chaiyo is actually one of the gallery spaces listed on the map; I’ve bicycled past the boutique hotel dozens of times without ever realising the lobby housed exhibitions. Even before I’ve unfolded it, the Art Map is already coming in handy!
What is your favourite art space in Chiang Mai? Does your home city have an art map or similar resource that you’ve found helpful?