The River Arts District
One Hundred Artists and Growing
Trendy, lively and creative, Asheville's River Arts District is home to more than a hundred artist studios in a dozen or so century-old former mills, factories and warehouse buildings located in Asheville's historic industrial district along the French Broad River.
Inside these casually renovated industrial era buildings of brick and steel a small city of creative artists is at work. Potters throw ceramic pots on spinning wheels, painters spread vibrant color across canvasses, fabric artists carefully hand-stitch quilts and glass blowers form shimmering vessels.
This rapidly growing artistic haven offers plenty of funk and spunk along with some amazing art. Don't look for cute little artsy shops and galleries with regular 9-5 hours here, as these are the studios of creative artists who work to their individual schedules. Some River Arts District artists do keep regular hours, with studios open 7 days a week, while others are open on just some days of the week, and some by appointment only.
To help make sense of this sometimes bewildering maze of creativity, we've created the following guide to our favorite artist studios in the River Arts District, as well as the buildings that house studios that buzz with creativity. We'll give you the local scoop on when studios are open, where to park, and introduce you to one of Asheville's favorite restaurants, located here in the River Arts District.
Our Favorite Artist Studios, Buildings and Restaurants
240 Clingman Building, at 236 - 242 Clingman Ave.
Jonas Gerard Fine Art. One of the busiest galleries in the River Arts District. Here you'll find a dazzling spectrum of big, bold, bright and explosively colorful abstract paintings that fill the walls in this spacious studio gallery. The gallery is open 7 days a week (except Sundays in January and February).
Odyssey Center for Ceramic Arts. The Odyssey Gallery showcases fine ceramic works by the instructors and resident artists associated with this studio-school. You can often see professional and student artists at work in the studio here. The gallery is open Monday - Friday.
Clingman Cafe. This small corner cafe and artistic gathering place serves organic and fair trade coffee and espresso, breakfast items, soups and creative deli sandwiches. Each month they display the works of a featured artist inside the cafe. Open 7 days a week.
The Wedge Building, at 111 - 129 Roberts Street
Marston Blow and Ceramic Song. This must-see-do-and-listen studio is an amazing experience. Marston combines creative spirituality and finely tuned ceramic art skills to produce her signature Singing Bowls. Each lovely ceramic bowl comes with a wooden stick used to rhythmically rub the bowls rim, which produces a rich layering of soothing, healing sound reminiscent of the metal or crystal bowls used by Tibetan Monks. Usually open Saturdays and afternoons.
Michael Hoffman Handbuilt Porcelain. Antique lace, fine porcelain and glazes that shimmer like gems or weathered metal meld together under the skilled craftsmanship of Hoffman as he creates exquisite functional dinnerware, serving pieces and decorative work. The lace doesn't go in the clay - it gets rolled on the clay, creating ornate patterns that are at once modern and traditional. Open Tuesday - Saturday.
Dyed in the Wool Designs. The one-of a kind scarves and wearable art in this studio are crafted from merino wool and silk, creating softly draping light-weight textiles. Styles for both men and women range from the unique and funky, to casual or even formal. Usually open Monday - Saturday.
Cotton Mill Studios, at 122 Riverside Drive
Christine Dougherty Fine Art. Christine's soft landscapes capture the many moods of North Carolina in oil and pastels. While, in sharp contrast, her portraits portray insects and animals found in nature. Open Thursday - Friday.
Genie Maples Visual Poetry. These ethereal landscape abstracts combine old-world colors with contemporary style, creating soothing and intriguing paintings. No regular hours, but she is often at the studio.
Warehouse Studios, at 170 Lyman Street
Wendy Whitson Landscape Paintings. Nature seems to come alive in these acrylic and mixed-media paintings, enticing the viewer to pay attention to the details as well as admire her vividly impressionistic rendering of the natural world. Open Friday - Saturday.
Laurie McCarriar Photographic and Digital Arts. Catch a glimpse of Asheville or the mountains as seen through the eyes of Laurie and her digital filters. In these canvasses the artist presents detail, color and texture with a unique perspective. Open Friday.
Curve Studios, at 6, 9 & 12 Riverside Drive
Meagan Chaney Ceramic Wall Sculpture and Fused Glass Jewelry. Abstract forms from nature are designed into these one-of-a-kind inspired creations of glass, metal and earthenware clay. Here you can find delicate fused glass pendants, miniature sculptures and tile plaques. Open daily.
Pattiy Torno Quilts, Clothing & Fun Fleece. Exquisite and creative, Pattiy's quilts are finely crafted from colorful cotton and wool fabrics and then hand quilted. These two-sided quilts are beautiful, and the attention to detail is exceptional. Open daily.
12 Bones Smokehouse, 5 Riverside Drive When you are ready to eat, 12 Bones Smokehouse is close by. This laid back and unassuming casual eatery serves their own long and slow cooked smoked meats, with a large selection of vegetarian sides. You have your choice of meats and several daily special sauces such as blueberry-chipotle. This is a very popular local-favorite restaurant, and there is often a line of people waiting to get in. Open Monday - Friday for lunch only.
River Arts District Visitor Information
- You can visit the River Arts District anytime, but one of the best times is during the Studio Stroll held twice a year, on the second weekend of June and November from 10am - 6pm. These Studio Strolls are fun and festive, with more than eighty studios open.
- For the rest of the year, the best day of the week to visit the River Arts District is on a Friday, a day when the largest numbers of artists are in their studios. If there is a particular artist that you especially want to visit, it is always a good idea to call ahead to schedule a time when they will actually be in the studio. The best time to visit on Friday is mid-day, from about 11am to 4pm, although every artist keeps their own hours.
- If you want to plan ahead, be sure to use the River District Artists website. They have a great printable map of the district, and you can find artist studios that are open on the day of the week you plan to visit, by artist name, featuring the specific media you are interested in, or located in one building. The website also provides the latest contact information for individual artists, when their studio is open and links to the artist's website.
- The best place to park to visit our favorite artist studios and buildings is in the large lot south of Roberts Street with access from Lyman Street. This lot is behind the Wedge Building on the Asheville side of the railroad tracks, and diagonally across from the Clingman Cafe on Clingman Avenue and Roberts Street.
- The River Arts District is located along the east side of the French Broad River southwest of downtown Asheville. One of the easiest ways to get there is to take Patton Ave west from downtown, and then turn left onto Clingman Ave just before reaching the I-240. Follow Clingman to the corner of Roberts Street and park. All of the studios we mention are an easy walk from here.
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