Lowe Mill Arts
JUXTAPOZ|Winter 2021
An Art Pilgrimage in Huntsville, Alabama
By Matt Wake

Back in sepia-toned times, it began as a textile mill and was later a shoe factory. Since 2001, this cavernous brick building has been home to a tech town’s arts/culture heartbeat. Nineteen years later, organizers tout Lowe Mill as The South’s largest privately owned arts center.

It’s located in a soulful working class neighborhood, on the west side of Huntsville, a North Alabama city known for aerospace engineering that helped NASA put men on the moon with 1969’s Apollo 11 mission. Huntsville is also famously home to Space Camp, where generations of kids, including those of celebs like Tom Hanks and Bruce Springsteen, come to indulge astronaut daydreams. The past several years, Huntsville has attracted bold font endeavors like the FBI, Blue Origin and Facebook to locate here. The city is about about an hour’s drive from Muscle Shoals, and the fertile recording studio scene that birthed classics by the likes of Aretha and The Stones.

In Huntsville, there are local gems for food, drink, art, entertainment and shopping-scattered around town, particularly on the west side and downtown. But if your time is limited, you can get all those things at one address: 2211 Seminole Drive, aka Lowe Mill.

Being a former large scale production site for consumer goods has advantages, particularly when it comes to parking. Lowe Mill has no shortage of that. However, this being pandemic-stained 2020, you won’t be able to drive onto the lot without a mask, as Lowe Mill stations an employee at the former guard gate to check for them. Inside the actual building, the ceilings are high, so combined with masks and surrounded by visitors who tend to respect social distancing, I feel safe tooling around for an hour or two. Inside Lowe Mill, exposed wizened brick walls contribute to the vibe. Looking out across the back parking lot, you can see verdant Monte Sano Mountain slumbering in the background.

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