There is no single set of values or aesthetic traits that defines art. Art is made up of a highly-diverse range of activities that create visual, auditory, or performed artifacts reflective of the artist’s imagination and mood. It is created to be appreciated for its beauty or the emotion it stimulates. Art can be a personal journey and for some, and extremely decompressing, while providing laser-sharp focus and the opportunity for perfectionism.
One of the most perfect places in the world for artistic inspiration is Asheville, North Carolina. The Asheville arts scene is an explosion of performing arts locations, hundreds of artists, and countless art galleries. Art festivals and events abound in this city and are woven into every aspect of Asheville life. Art is not hidden away in Asheville; it is shouted from every vantage point. Walls, buildings, and even underpasses, are canvases for Asheville’s creatives.
It is an exercise in futility trying to list all of the best places to visit, so let’s look at some of the must-see attractions and a few of the unusual. Worth visiting is the Black Mountain College Art Museum and Art Center in the heart of downtown Asheville. Artists Robert Rauschenberg and Willem de Kooning received their tutelage at North Carolina’s Black Mountain College, a progressive art school opened in the 1930s. The art center now pays homage to this legacy in the form of art exhibitions, performance arts, film and more.
Another essential visit is to the River Arts District (RAD), a former industrial zone with 22 buildings along the French Broad River that are simply teeming with artists. The once-polluted area is now celebrated by both businesses and the local artists who work year-round.
For those who like the feeling of self-expression, there are many workshops you can take to fully-immerse yourself in the art experience. You should pay a visit to The Village Potters, which is also in The RAD. It is a community, with talented potters in-house, that also nurtures creative self-expression. The fully-outfitted Education Center provides ongoing classes in wheel and hand building, among other classes for beginners and intermediates, plus advanced programs for the serious potter-to-be. You can even book your own personalized Get Your Hands Dirty workshop for yourself or a group of enthusiasts.
Asheville is famous for its beer, but a cafe latte is almost as popular. And a set of perfect microbubbles can be turned into an art experience called “latte art”, which can be found at any of the coffeehouses nestled in the middle of the RAD. There’s even a Chemistry and Latte Art workshop where baristas learn exercises on how to pour latte art.
You can also unleash another unusual art treat when you take one of the daily glass-blowing workshops at the North Carolina Glass Center. Using century-old techniques, visitors can make beads, cups, or even paperweights from hand-blown glass.
Asheville is an art lover’s utopia. From the countless galleries to the milky taste of unusual latte art at a pastry shop, the experience can be a surfeit of visual experiences that will satiate even the fussiest of art lovers. It can also be a highly-personal journey where, as a visitor, you can look for a workshop on pottery, the performing arts or anything else creative that meets your whims and fancies. Diverse choices in a diverse city make Asheville a personally therapeutic and inspired experience.