Western North Carolina has a long and rich history of fine visual arts and traditional crafts. From traditional Cherokee rivercane baskets, made for thousands of years, to innovative multimedia art from the area’s newest residents, there is an overwhelming amount of art to experience.
If you’re not sure where to start your journey of discovery, our Beverly-Hanks agents are here to help. We asked them: Where is the best place to discover local art in WNC?
The art scene is booming in WNC, and we are consistently voted one of the biggest art destinations in the country. Each year, more artist studio tours, events, and art shows appear. The River Arts District in Asheville, home to many studio artists of the mountains, is definitely a favorite place to explore! The Folk Art Center in Asheville is a “must stop” along the Blue Ridge Parkway. It showcases the finest in traditional and contemporary craft of the Southern Appalachians. The Asheville Art Museum showcases Western North Carolina’s cultural heritage including Studio Craft, Black Mountain College, and Cherokee artists.
There are so many choices in a city that loves art. The New Morning Gallery in Biltmore Village has long been a place to see a full range of art, from earrings and coffee mugs to fine furniture and beautiful paintings. The Grovewood Gallery adjacent to the Grove Park Inn is similar, but with a totally different group of artists. The Asheville Gallery of Art downtown is run by the artists who display their work there. Then there is the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway—Southern Appalachia is full of pottery, quilts, and woodworking.
I love Woolworth Walk in the old Woolworth Department Store building in Downtown Asheville on Haywood Street. They are known as “The Who’s Who of Local Artists” and feature well-known, accomplished artists like my favorite, Sarah Faulkner. They also have emerging artists, including my other favorite, Deona Fish. The selection of art varies from Fine Art to Folk Art, with something for everyone in every budget. The building is so nice, it offers an oasis from the busy streets and offices downtown. They also have one of the best cheap lunch spots in all of downtown at The Soda Fountain lunch counter!
The River Arts District in Asheville is amazing! You’ll find Jeff Pittman and his fabulous watercolors of Asheville, David C. Stewart, plus many more. I also love the glass studio of the NC Glass Center, and the pottery options are staggering! The old Woolworth building, in the heart of downtown, is a wonderful place to find local art, also. Don’t forget the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway either! We are so blessed to live in such a culturally rich and beautiful part of the country.
Twigs & Leaves Gallery in Waynesville is “Where Art Dances with Nature” …and sometimes a craft beer too! It has been voted “Best of WNC” by Mountain Xpress readers many years in a row.
When the first passenger train rolled into Saluda on July 4, 1878, artists started coming into town to get away from the sweltering heat from the lower country and discovered Saluda’s bountiful beauty and cool mountain breezes. Visual artists, performing artists, and writers built a community here, and it is still a growing part of Saluda’s culture. We salute them annually with the Saluda Arts Festival in May.
Look no further than Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center at 120 College Avenue in Downtown Asheville for engaging programming and a comprehensive embrace of the instrumental college’s influence. The graduates of this educational process became the leaders of the art world in every discipline.
My favorite place to view art currently is literally on the streets of Downtown Asheville and the surrounding area. Artists have painted stunning murals on downtown buildings. A simple walk through or drive by our downtown community will amaze you.
While visiting Western North Carolina, don’t miss our very own Saluda Art Festival. Happening on May 21, it’s a great way to spend your day. Saluda also is home to Heartwood Contemporary Craft Gallery, which features local artists of various mediums, including pottery, metalwork, and jewelry; the artist Jim Carson has his gallery next to the visitor center; and finally, Earthly Minds Gallery also features local art right next to Wildflour Bakery (don’t forget to get a treat). And just a short trip down the mountain is the Tryon Arts & Crafts School. It’s an amazing place to appreciate and buy art from local artists and even take classes if you are so inclined.
The Gallery at Flat Rock in Flat Rock offers art lovers an amazing array of works, many from local artists—at every price level—so as not to leave anyone out of art appreciation! Suzanne, the proprietor, a photographer/artist in her own right, recently curated a successful opening for a show called Pray.Love.Eat. All items were under $100, and sculpture artist Ayako Abe-Miller taught origami, and all attendees were served a box lunch of handmade dumplings. Check out the newest show, Trancendence, running through the end of February, and the Porch Portrait project, where a portion of proceeds support the Flat Rock Playhouse!
The Gallery at Flat Rock is a wonderful, intimate space where you can see many different artists from all across our region. The owner, Suzanne Camarata, also promotes the arts via themed exhibitions, talks by artists, and workshops throughout the year. You can find everything from paintings, sculpture, photography, jewelry, and more. Plus, it’s right across the street from the Flat Rock Village Bakery and Hubba Hubba BBQ!
This may be a bit cliché, but my favorite place to see WNC art is in the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. We are so lucky to have immediate access to the greatest artist of all, Mother Nature. Whether it is the spruce-fir forests near the summit of Mt. Mitchell, the pristine grounds of the Biltmore Estate, or the sweeping sunset views from the Blue Ridge Parkway, the natural art of this area could not be more magical.
My wife and I love visiting NC Glass Center in the River Arts District. They have incredible hand blown glass for sale that was created right in their onsite studio from local artists. In addition to being able to purchase hand blown glasses and other works of art, you can also sign up for a class to learn how to blow glass yourself!
We really enjoy Marquee in Asheville. Fresh off a January grand opening, this new, local artist and craft space can be found in the Foundry section of the River Arts District. It’s a large, comfortable space filled with inspiring art from dozens of talented local artists and even features space curated by one of our favorite local nonprofit organizations, Preserving a Picturesque America. PAPA uses art to bring attention to, help restore, and preserve our majestic natural beauty, including the French Broad River. Additionally, the Marquee location is great for ducking into Summit Coffee for a handcrafted espresso beverage or even a pint of beer at Wedge Brewing Company.
Live Near Your Favorite Artists and Galleries!
Among the many ways we Live Abundantly in WNC is by having access to some of the most talented and innovative artists in the Southeast and—dare we say it?—in the world. Find a home near one of the great locations for local art mentioned in this post!
- Asheville Art Museum, Asheville Gallery of Art, Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, Woolworth Walk – Search for homes in Downtown Asheville.
- Folk Art Center – Search for homes in Asheville.
- The Gallery at Flat Rock – Search for homes in Flat Rock.
- Grovewood Gallery – Search for homes in Grove Park.
- Marquee, NC Glass Center – Search for homes in the River Arts District.
- New Morning Gallery – Search for homes in Biltmore Village.
- Earthly Minds Gallery, Heartwood Contemporary Craft Gallery, Jim Carson Studio, Saluda Arts Festival – Search for homes in Saluda.
- Tryon Arts & Crafts School – Search for homes in Tryon.
- Twigs & Leaves Gallery – Search for homes in Waynesville.
- Weaverville Art Safari – Search for homes in Weaverville.