Asheville’s eclectic art scene is as breathtaking as the Blue Ridge Mountains that surround this spirited city. Hundreds of artists practicing across a range of media call Western N.C. their home, selling their pieces in a multitude of galleries around the Asheville area. Whether you’re a casual shopper, waiting for a just-right piece to strike your fancy, or have a specific style of art in mind, there’s no shortage of gallery spaces replete with visually vibrant works to peruse. With so many options, it can be overwhelming to know where to start your search; following are a few ways to more easily and enjoyably experience the galleries dotting downtown, River Arts District, South Slope and other Asheville neighborhoods.
The Downtown Asheville Art District
Beginning in April and continuing through December, The Downtown Asheville Art District galleries celebrate the beginning of a new month (and the weekend) with First Friday Gallery Walks. The walks, held from 5-8 p.m., are a great way to explore downtown Asheville while visiting the more than 20 galleries that contribute to Asheville's reputation as a vibrant arts community.
Within a half-mile radius of Pack Square and the city's center, you'll find unparalleled artistic creations, from fine studio crafts to glass, photography, folk art and contemporary painting, metalwork, textiles, jewelry and more by local, regional, national and international artists.
You can find a complete listing of DAAD galleries, including a map with locations and contact information, in the Downtown Gallery Guide, available at each participating gallery, the Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Pack Place.
The River Arts District
This once-industrial neighborhood nestled next to the French Broad River is now home to the working studios and galleries of hundreds of artists. From painting and pottery to jewelry, glass, metal and wood, the pieces created and sold in Asheville’s River Arts District are a reflection of the thriving artistic talent Asheville nurtures.
Many visitors descend on RAD every Saturday, with most studios open to the public. On the Second Saturday of each month, visitors can ride a free trolley to each building, see demonstrations, enjoy refreshments and meet the artists. RAD’s annual Studio Stroll is held on the Second Saturday and Sunday of November, with studios often open longer hours.
You can also visit studios in RAD during the rest of the week. Many studios are open daily from 11 a.m.-5 p.m., and some from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Artists work year-round, with some studios open earlier or later than the posted hours or days.
Asheville Art Studio Tours
These tours, developed and led by area artists, give visitors an inside look into the Asheville arts scene. The tours help visitors better explore and understand Asheville’s vast and diverse community of artists and studios.
You can opt for the two-hour artist-led walking tour, which visits a variety of studios, some with multiple artists working out of them. For the visitor who’s always wanted to try their hand at throwing pottery, or blowing and sculpting glass, the Experience tour allows you to be an artist for a day. VIP tours offer the full art and entertainment treatment, down to handling dinner details.
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