Rosebank’s culture scene is now synonymous with the Keyes Art Mile, but it’s grown organically from a far older history as a hub for art fundis, both lovers of traditional crafts and the more formal sort found behind display windows. Rosebank is home to Johannesburg’s two oldest art galleries: The Everard Read Gallery, a Johannesburg art icon since 1913, moved to Rosebank from the city centre in the 1970s. The Goodman Gallery has been in its current premises since 1997 (though it also enjoys a longer history in Johannesburg, having been opened by Linda Givon in Hyde Park in 1966).  And no mention of culture in this suburb is complete without a nod to the Rosebank Art & Craft Market at the Mall in Cradock Avenue next to the Europa café. It’s been going since 1993 and is an early example of how street hawkers were organically incorporated and included into street and suburb life. There’s not a Joburger who hasn’t taken a tourist to fill up on beaded dolls, cloth and wooden animal figurines before sending them home with stuffed hand luggage, having experienced the hard sell that is expected from stall owners. On Sundays the action moves to the rooftop of the Mall and there are food trucks and bars to keep you going through your shopping trip.

If you’re feeling more refined, you can enjoy a walk around the Keyes Art Mile district that starts on the corner of Jan Smuts and Jellicoe, or enjoy the so-called “art strip” further south that begins with the Goodman Gallery on Jan Smuts and Bolton. Wherever you choose, the art scene radiates outwards: towards Melrose Arch, the Parks, Melville or Maboneng, with Rosebank at the epicentre. Check websites for particular exhibits and events as they change often!

Keyes Art Mile

Rosebank’s culture scene is now synonymous with the Keyes Art Mile, but it’s grown organically from a far older history as a hub for art fundis, both lovers of traditional crafts and the more formal sort found behind display windows.

In 2009 Everard Read asked architects StudioMAS to build a new addendum to the gallery: Circa. It’s the distinctive oval building with an aluminium slatted facade that allows views into and out of the building, and a patio roof. It’s also super eco-friendly. “Electricity is generated using solar panels and harvested rainwater is used throughout. Council energy and water is connected only as a back-up measure,” says StudioMAS’s Pierre Swanepoel.

The next new building of what was to become the Keyes Art Mile is Trumpet (which hosts the yummy Marble and Momo Kuro restaurants). The once-ugly street corner that hosted a garage and uneven, narrow pavements was transformed into the beginnings of a walking-safe district with trees planted, art galleries, restaurants, design showrooms, street art, wide pavements and more. Check out the bar-cum-gallery Mesh Club, SMAC Gallery, as well as the TMRW Gallery. Its Mixed Reality Workshop is “a space for artistic exploration and hi-tech play”, where VR meets actual reality. High-end furniture and clothing stores are strewn around the area and a monthly Pantry Market completes the picture.

You can live in the Keyes Art Mile too, and it’s an experience as far away from freestanding suburban household or estate living as it is possible to get. The Thirty Keyes apartment block is built around a courtyard that has introduced plant species that would have naturally occurred in the Highveld region if it weren’t for urbanisation. Shared fibre and CCTV – and a community-spirited vibe – keep residents protected this is community living at its best for socially and safety-conscious Joburgers.

The art strip

The area between the Goodman Gallery and the Goethe Institute, which hosts German-affiliated cultural events on the reg (check the website) is feeling the happy effects of Rosebank’s general rejuvenation, and almost daily hipster coffee shops and businesses are opening up among the many art galleries that start at the Goodman on 163 Jan Smuts. Directly opposite the Goodman is Priest, a gallery, espresso bar and shared workspace facility. At 155, you’ll find Lizamore & Associates, a contemporary fine art gallery, at 153, the Kim Sacks gallery devotes itself to contemporary and tribal art as well as a vessel-making studio. The David Krut exhibition project spaces and bookstore at 151 that specialise in print work and multiples and editions and unique works by South African artists also have their Johannesburg presence here.

Feeling parched? The Garden Shop Parktown nursery is yet another area institution, dating back to 1978 when Keith Kirsten sold everybody’s grandma her pansies and hydrangeas. Under new ownership, the nursery is still a flagship and precursor of many family-friendly nurseries-cum-restaurants. Take the kids and have a coffee in idyllic garden surroundings at the Munch coffee shop on the premises.