All Things Art: The 15 Best Art Galleries in Asheville
Asheville is famous for many good things: the abundance of incredible farm-to-table food, the ever-expanding beer scene, the magnificent outdoors, the open-minded, health-conscious hippie vibe, and the many art galleries, studios, and shops.
The Downtown Asheville Art District has over 25 art galleries, including the Asheville Art Museum (the only one of its kind in Western North Carolina), excellent public art pieces, and a self-guided trail that follows sculptures around downtown. There is also an art stroll on the first Friday of the month between September and December.
The River Arts District (RAD) features over 200 studios and galleries in the different former industrial buildings by the French Broad River. There are open art studios, opportunities to meet the artists, free workshops, and daily classes. In addition, on the second Saturday of the month, the Asheville River Arts District offers free trolley rides to tour the studios!
Asheville’s art scene suits everyone, from those wanting to learn about art and get some Appalachian-crafted souvenirs to avid art collectors looking for unique pieces. Also, visiting an Asheville art shop or gallery is one of the best things to do on a rainy day or in the winter!
I made a list of some of the best art galleries in Asheville, and I also included some art studios and other art experiences. Please know that it’s only possible to include some of them because there are so many good ones!
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15 Awesome Asheville Art Galleries and Studios to Check Out
1. Admire the Art and Life of Photographer Benjamin Walls
The Benjamin Walls Gallery is an Asheville art gallery and wine bar featuring the award-winning work of Benjamin Walls and a curated selection of organic wines from around the world (plus chocolate truffles!). It’s located on the ground floor of The Windsor Boutique Hotel, one of the best boutique hotels in Asheville.
Benjamin Walls is a five-time Smithsonian exhibitor, a two-time Natural History Museum of London exhibitor, an avid entrepreneur, and a passionate conservationist. His story is fascinating: In 2003, Benjamin left home (from Bristol, Tennessee) with a film camera and taught himself photography while traveling 30,000 miles on an extremely low budget for 18 months.
He borrowed money to frame his first photos so they could be exhibited and then sent his best pieces to international institutions. Less than two years later, two of his works were hanging in the Smithsonian, and one at the Natural History Museum of London.
Fellow Tennessean Dolly Parton forwarded his first coffee table book, BEYOND. Benjamin has raised over $750,000 for conservation for organizations like the Jane Goodall Institute and Friends of the Smokies.
2. Visit the Asheville Gallery of Art, the Longest-Established Fine Arts Gallery in Asheville
The Asheville Gallery of Art in downtown Asheville was founded in 1988, pioneering the incredible art scene Asheville is known for today. The gallery is a 31-member cooperative where each artist is a co-owner. This is one of the best art galleries in Asheville to see local and regional fine art.
Artists, then, not only have their work displayed, but they also run the businesses, and each day one of them clerks at the gallery. The Asheville Gallery of Art features over 500 original works with various styles, techniques, and mediums represented. There is something for everyone!
There is also a monthly exhibition. You’ll love Andrea Stutesman’s animals, Judy Rentner’s whimsical fall landscapes, the enormous variety of work and mediums, and the friendly, down-to-earth feeling of the cooperative.
3. Get Your Hands Muddy (or Simply Admire the Ceramic Work) at Odyssey Clayworks
Odyssey Clayworks is a 5,000-square-foot educational pottery studio and art gallery in Asheville’s River Arts District. You’ll see the artists at work and a display of dozens of ceramic pieces of all sizes, colors, and prices. Then, of course, you can shop to take one or some of the various creations home.
Odyssey Clayworks also offers workshops and classes for adults and kids with all experience levels. The classes’ themes are very diverse, from beginner wheel to figure sculpture, flowerpots, a residency for early career ceramic artists, a mentoring program for high school students, and a free therapeutic program for veterans.
Their kids’ programs are top-rated, and they offer scholarships so everyone can access the classes. Odyssey Clayworks is open seven days a week. You’ll love the ample studio, the pieces featured, and the super-friendly vibe!
4. Shop around Woolworth Walk’s Many Shops and End Your Visit at a Soda Fountain
Woolworth Walk is a 20,000-square-foot downtown Asheville art gallery with about 170 local artists. It showcases decorative and functional art pieces made using many diverse mediums. You’ll find jewelry, glass, metal, pottery, fine art, photography, apparel, fiber, wood, or whatever you’re looking for!
This Asheville art gallery is in the historic F.W. Woolworth Building, restored in 2001. The project won the Griffin Award twice for “Historical Accuracy.”
The Soda Fountain at Woolworth Walk is inside the building, and it’s the perfect spot for lunch with the kiddos since there are tons of options!). This old-fashioned soda fountain was built to resemble the original Woolworth Luncheonette (1938). You’ll love the ‘50s vibe and the banana splits!
On the first Friday of every month, there is an opening reception for the featured artist of the month. They also offer extended hours during the summer, fall, and holiday seasons and a sale in February. This is such a fun place to stroll around on a rainy day!
5. Discover the Unique Hand-Blown Glass Designs of Lexington Glassworks
Lexington Glassworks is one of the best downtown Asheville art galleries. Each piece is beautifully designed and crafted using century-old techniques. This is an open-door art studio, so visitors can enter and see the artists at work.
They make high-quality glass-blown wares, sculptural vessels, and custom lighting. Lighting Design Studio is their secondary gallery, specializing in working one-on-one with homeowners, designers, architects, and builders to bring their lightning needs and ideas to life.
You’ll love seeing the glassblowing process from start to finish and the shop offering glasses, vases, ornaments, adorable terrariums, and stunning lighting features.
If you want more glassblowing experiences after visiting Lexington Glassworks, go to the North Carolina Glass Center in the River Arts District, a non-profit glass studio and gallery featuring new and well-known glass artists. You can take a class and work on your piece!
Also in the River Arts District, Level 42 Studio and Gallery is a gallery and flameworking studio featuring beautiful pieces sold worldwide. They also offer glassblowing classes, demos, shows, and alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to accompany your studio stroll.
6. Enjoy the Asheville Art Museum’s Solid Collection of Southwestern Art
The Asheville Art Museum serves the 24 counties of Western North Carolina. Its collection features an overview of the movements and trends in American and Southwest art of the 20th and 21st centuries.
The museum is located in the heart of downtown, has a very photogenic entrance, and offers a full calendar of exhibitions, events, classes, and workshops for families and adults.
The rooftop Perspective Café serves lunch, beverages, snacks, and goodies from the most beloved Asheville businesses. There is also an indoor seating area and a sculpture terrace – both offer beautiful views of downtown Asheville and its surroundings!
The Art PLAYce is a creative space for kids that the entire family will enjoy. It’s perfect for young kids to explore colors and shapes, make art, and be exposed to art. The interactive activities are very cool, and I spent countless hours there when my kids were young.
The gift shop has fun items for kids and adults. They also offer tours for adults, families, students, and groups.
7. Pique Your Artistic Interests at the Tracey Morgan Gallery
The Tracey Morgan Gallery specializes in museum-quality photography, works on paper, paintings, sculptures, videos, and installations by emerging and established local and international artists, highlighting the work of those native to Western North Carolina.
This Asheville art gallery is located in downtown’s South Slope area, the home to many great restaurants and dessert places (like Buxton Hall Barbeque or Sunshine Sammies). This area is known as “the brewery district of Asheville.” You can also spend some time walking the South Slope Mural Trail to enjoy some awesome public art pieces.
The Tracey Morgan Gallery features individual and group exhibitions, exploring stimulating historical and contemporary themes, like “Representing Place, Photographs of Appalachia,” “The Grass Isn’t Always Greener” by multi-media artist Kirsten Stolle (which explores the influence of pesticide companies on our food supply), or “Compassion & Cannibalism: A Spiritual Guide To Recycling,” a project gallery installation by artist and poet Ted Pope.
The gallery also works to guide experienced and new collectors through acquiring artwork.
8. Pick Up (or Make!) a Distinctive Piece of Jewelry at Mora
Located downtown, Mora Contemporary Jewelry Design is an art gallery and store with 30 designers whose works combined make a fun, eclectic space to search for your unique jewelry. Mora has the best, most beautiful jewelry in Asheville!
You can find delicate, fine jewelry pieces next to dramatic, theatrical ones. What do they all have in common? Amazing design, of course! You’ll find a vast and astonishing collection of rings, bracelets, earrings, brooches, and necklaces. Some pieces are made by hand following traditional techniques, and others use the most modern technologies.
The creations are beautiful, and there is something for every taste, need, and budget. Mora has been in Asheville for over 10 years, and it’s a local, women-owned and operated business. Marthe Le Van, the curator, has an extensive, impressive career in the jewelry design world.
9. Visit Some of the Best Art Galleries in Asheville in the River Arts District
There is a lot to do in the Asheville River Arts District, and visiting some of the 200+ studios is one of the highlights. This former industrial area is by the French Broad River and the railroad and features art galleries and shops for everyone and every budget. Visiting the studios and parking are free, and the district is walkable.
Marquee is housed in a converted 50,000-square-foot warehouse hosting 291 vendors. You’ll find antiques, vintage decor and clothing, jewelry, art in different mediums, and even plants. You’ll love the on-site Saint Brighid’s bar (there are non-alcoholic beverages, too).
Curve Studios has three buildings where you can see 11 artists at work. There is a beautiful (kind of secret) garden with lots of flowers in the spring and summer and funky features like an arch made with chairs.
The Foundation Studios feature some of the best art in Asheville. The building hosts 80+ resident artists working in various mediums, such as stained glass, mixed media, painting, ceramic, wood, and metal.
You can go here if you want to see a complete list of the Asheville River Arts District buildings, shops, and studios.
10. Discover Local Arts and Crafts at the Beautiful Grovewood Village
The historical Grovewood Village is adjacent to the Omni Grove Park Inn, one of Asheville’s best hotels and most renowned landmarks. The gallery represents 350 American artists and craftspeople and features two of the best Asheville art galleries, two museums, and a variety of open studios.
The Gallery of the Mountains has wonderful handmade crafts from more than 100 Southern Appalachian artists. This is the perfect spot for jewelry, clothing, small home decor items, and other unique Asheville gifts.
The 9,000 Grovewood Gallery has a magnificent showroom of handcrafted furniture and a lovely sculpture garden offering panoramic views and a peaceful place to unwind.
This Asheville art gallery was once home to Biltmore Industries, created by Edith Vanderbilt as a small craft education program that grew into one of the largest producers of handwoven wool in the world.
The nostalgic, one-room Biltmore Industries Homespun Museum is dedicated to the story of Biltmore Industries. You’ll love the antique looms!
You can’t leave without checking out the Estes-Winn Antique Car Museum featuring a collection of antique and vintage automobiles and Asheville’s 1922 American LaFrance fire truck. Plus, entrance is free, which is always a plus.
11. Explore More of the Southern Appalachian Arts and Crafts Scene
The Folk Art Center is one of the best places to appreciate the traditional and contemporary crafts of the Southern Appalachians. There are exhibitions, displays, and a shop where you can buy memorable Asheville souvenirs. Located on the Blue Ridge Parkway, it’s a short and scenic 8-mile drive from downtown Asheville and admission is free.
The Appalachian Craft Center in downtown Asheville has pottery, adorable wooden utensils and toys, jewelry, Southern-themed books and cookbooks, and fantastic homemade jams and jellies.
And then there’s the Center for Craft, a coworking space/Asheville art gallery for crafters, offering workshops, classes, mentorships, and other craft programs. Check out their calendar to see what’s next.
American Folk Art is a small gallery in downtown Asheville featuring contemporary self-taught art and folk art. It has paintings, woodcarvings, Southern face jugs, and functional pottery. They are now working with over 30 potters and artists, and they specialize in preservation framing.
Horse + Hero specializes in neo-Appalachian art and craft. You’ll love the art deco storefront and the colorful displays. Finally, you won’t regret checking out the Blue Ridge Craft Trail!
12. Check Out These Asheville Art Festivals and Tours If You’re Serious About Art
The Big Crafty happens twice yearly in July (Pack Square) and December (Harrah’s Cherokee Center Asheville). This is one of the many great festivals in Asheville, voted as WNC’s Best Arts/Crafts Fair by Mountain Xpress every year since its creation in 2008.
The Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands has around 200 vendors. It’s another bi-annual event (July and October) at Harrah’s Cherokee Center.
Asheville Art in the Park is another excellent Asheville arts festival that occurs on three Saturdays each June and October in downtown Asheville’s Pack Square, showcasing the work of the most renowned artists in the area. Also, the Omni Grove Park Inn hosts the annual National Arts and Crafts Conference.
Asheville Art Experience offers several art experiences, including a River Arts District tour (and classes!), an art buying tour, and custom tours. At the same time, Art Connections features custom art tours to discover the local Asheville art scene.
13. Visit the Peace Gardens and Learn About the African Americans in Asheville
The Peace Gardens in the Burton Street Community – a historically African American neighborhood established in the early 1900s – is “part outdoor art museum and part community garden, truly embodying the interrelated components of art, environment, and social enterprise.”
This is an excellent place to learn about the past and present of African-Americans in Asheville while strolling around flowers, butterflies, vegetable beds, and sculptures. This space was created “to bring people together – through food and art. What began as a few garden beds have evolved into a culturally welcoming and deeply healing space.”
There are over 50 individual art pieces and installations, areas to meditate and perform, a classroom to host workshops, a library, a greenhouse, a community tool shed, and a wood-fired oven.
The Peace Gardens are open from dawn to dusk every day, all year round. They welcome volunteers during the summer (this is a fun family project!), and you can buy their produce by paying what you can. They also donate a lot of food!
14. Support Differently-Abled Adults in Expressing Themselves Through Art
The Asheville non-profit Open Heart Arts Center in downtown Asheville provides workshops and classes that empower adults with varied abilities to explore who they are through art and creativity. “Our everyday goal is to redirect the focus from what the artists cannot accomplish and, instead, emphasize their many and vast abilities.”
All the beautiful work is for sale, and the sales are split 50/50 between the artist and the center to cover the materials costs, etc. In addition, this unique, supportive Asheville art gallery has an annual signature sale of paper flower bouquets that quickly sell out.
They also organize special events like Valentine’s pop-ups and spring and holiday markets. Plus, you can find Open Heart Arts Center’s artists’ work in local and regional markets. Please pay them a visit and get some lovely, colorful Asheville art to support these awesome artists!
15. Check Out Asheville’s Street Art Scene
Public art is cool and makes colorful, cool photos. One of the most famous urban art pieces in Asheville is on the walls of the salon Beauty Parade. Dolly Parton and RuPaul make West Asheville extra hip with this beautiful mural by Gus Cutty. Also, check out the Indigenous Walls Project‘s murals, bringing Cherokee/Anigiduwagi language to Asheville public spaces.
Look for the Downtown Lexington Avenue Bridge, a multi-wall mural featuring Asheville’s rich culture. Just off Lexington is Chicken Alley, once a poultry commerce area with a very popular mural. A few steps up Lexington, the Positive Sign piece will make you enter the selfie mode instantly!
Triangle Park in downtown Asheville’s The Block portrays the history of Black people in Asheville. The South Slope Mural Trail features colorful pieces and many stops for refreshments and drinks. A great spot for girls’ photos is the Be-Youtiful frame at Willow’s Dream.
Murals are everywhere in the River Arts District. The most famous ones are the Asheville Silo (1 Roberts St), featuring an ever-changing slogan (“Stay Weird,” “Good Vibes,” “Stay True”) and Bender Fender (Asheville Waste Paper Company), where Homer Simpson meets Bender from Futurama.
This free, self-guided urban trail is a walking tour offered by the city of Asheville, following 30 stations marked by cool sculptures you must see! Finally, if you want to dig deeper into the urban art in Asheville, take a Mountain Mural Tour!
I hope you enjoy discovering Asheville’s expansive, eclectic, and fun art scene, with room for everyone to be creative!