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Arts, crafts and festivals (oh my!) Lucky you – the Asheville area is full of arts and entertainment festivals, nearly all of them free.

Visualizing the visual arts.

The Dry Ridge Inn is an excellent place from which to explore the many artists that welcome visitors into their studios, many of them located on the Weaverville’s Main Street. Second-generation potter Rob Mangum and his wife Beth create vases, platters and custom dinnerware at Mangum Pottery on Main Street. Next door is Miya Gallery Fine Art and Fine Crafts, where many local and regional artists display their work.

 

Weaverville’s renownedArt Safariis aself-guided tour that takes visitors across scenic back roads in and around this lovely little town and the hills that surround it. Artists in nearby Mitchell and Yancey counties open their doors in June for the Toe River Studio TourArt in Autumn is Weaverville’s main street art’s and crafts party.

 

Spring sees the beginning ofAsheville Downtown Gallery Association's art walks (held 5-8 p.m. on the first Friday of the month through December), as well as the city’s vibrant River District Artists’ studio strolls (check out Pattiy Torno’s boutique clothing and quilt majesty at Curve Studios, near the Asheville barbecue institution, 12 Bones).

 

The Big Crafty, a festival traditionally held downtown in July, features everything local. It has so much good food, music and beer, as well as some of the coolest indie artists and crafters in the area, that residents repeatedly name it the best arts/crafts fair in the Asheville area.

 

Each year in July and October, the Southern Highland Craft Guild puts on its Crafts Fair of the Southern Highlandsat the Civic Center in downtown Asheville. The four-day event assembles more than 200 rigorously juried craftspeople displaying and demonstrating works of clay, fiber, glass, leather, metal, mixed media, natural materials, paper, wood and jewelry.

 

Artists are attracted to the Weaverville/Asheville area for the same reason that you are – because it’s beautiful. Asheville abounds in galleries, and you won’t have to go far from the inn to see the arts districts downtown, in Biltmore Village and by the French Broad River.

 

Within an easy walk of each other downtown are Blue Spiral 1,Haen Gallery, Ariel Gallery, Gallery Minerva, 16 Patton Gallery and Asheville Gallery of Art, among others. The Asheville Art Museum is a sophisticated collector of 20th and 21st century American art. Drawing upon its own collection and that of others, it displays new exhibitions regularly.

 

In small, walkable Biltmore Village (itself an artful creation, conceived a century ago by the Vanderbilt family), there’s Pura Vida Gallery, New Morning Gallery, Bella Vista Art Gallery and Bellagio a wearable art gallery.

 

The River Arts District is Asheville’s newest artist colony, full of studios where artists work in communities of mutual support. Every summer and fall, the artists there hold formal studio strolls. Informally, more than 80 artists receive visitors every Friday and Saturday – just look for the “open studio” signs.

 

East of Asheville, minutes from downtown, is the Folk Art Center, the home of the Southern Highland Craft Guild. Showcasing the finest in traditional and contemporary crafts of the Southern Appalachians, the center houses three galleries, a library and the Allanstand Craft Shop. Live demonstrations in the lobby begin in March.

 

Often considered Weaverville’s sister city (because of size, temperament and ambience), Black Mountain is full of galleries, such as Seven Sisters Gallery, Sourwood Gallery, Cherry Street Gallery and the Old Depot Gallery.

 

Located on the north end of Buncome County, the Dry Ridge Inn is a short and drive to the Penland School of Crafts, a national center for craft education that displays the work of its revolving faculty in its exquisite Penland Gallery. On the way, consider a stop in the town of Marshall, a town-that-time-forgot whose reputation as an arts center is growing. Visit Flow and Firewalker Gallery on Main Street, get a cup of joe at Zuma Coffee and cross over the river for a chance visit with some of the artists working in the lovingly restored Marshall High School Studios.

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