December 1st, 2022
In our new blog series “Our Artists’ Guide” we let our artists and Gallery MAR team members guide you through some of our country’s artsiest cities. Check out our first blog in the series on the beautiful southwestern oasis, Santa Fe, led by artists Laura Wait, Nina Tichava, Michael Kessler, and Jamie Burnes.
Now, we introduce to you the rolling blue mountains and quirky, eccentric culture of artsy Asheville, North Carolina as presented by new Gallery MAR artist Peter Roux and myself, Gallery MAR writer, Veronica Vale.
Four years ago, I (Veronica Vale) moved from Park City, Utah back to my native North Carolina to be closer to family. While I miss the beautiful snowy mountains and glittering gold aspen trees of the West, I’ve always had a soft spot for my Appalachian mountains. Now that Gallery MAR has our first North Carolina-based artist, the talented painter Peter Roux, it seems like a better time than ever to give a shoutout to one of my favorite North Carolina cities, and Peter Roux‘s hometown: Asheville.
THE BEST ASHEVILLE EATS:
Peter Roux: There are so many great restaurants, eateries, food trucks, etc in this area that it’s hard to choose even just a couple to list. But, in no particular order, here are a few current favorites:
– Main Street Grill in Weaverville, just north of Asheville (best burger around)
– Forestry Camp (brewery and restaurant)
Veronica Vale: The Tupelo Honey Cafe is one of my favorite stops in downtown Asheville for scratch-made Southern food rooted in the Carolina Appalachian Mountains. Visitors love it because it offers a real taste of the Appalachian South, and locals love it because it feels like home. Be prepared for a bit of a wait though – this place is always packed!
Plus, if you love Indian food, Asheville’s Chai Pani was just this year named America’s most Outstanding Restaurant at the James Beard Foundation Awards in Chicago.
THE BEST ASHEVILLE PARK:
Peter Roux: Carrier Park
Veronica Vale: The Blue Ridge Parkway! This may not quite be a city park, but it is something of a National Park, or at least a National Parkway. No visit to Asheville can be considered complete without a drive or a hike along The Blue Ridge Parkway. Although the Parkway runs 469 miles long, the section around Asheville is especially beautiful. I recommend the panoramic views of Black Balsam Knob or one of the many majestic waterfalls, like Looking Glass Falls.
THE BEST PLACE TO BE INSPIRED
Veronica Vale: If you’re a nature lover, you’ll find abundant inspiration along The Blue Ridge Parkway. If you’re also inspired by history, culture, and architecture, be sure to schedule in a trip to The Biltmore Estate, a National Historic Landmark known as America’s Largest Home. This sprawling estate was the former home of the Vanderbilt family and now features a Village with shops, a winery, and rotating art exhibitions (currently, there’s an interactive exhibition on the work of Leonardo Da Vinci on display).
THE BEST ASHEVILLE COFFEE:
Peter Roux: Asheville is a mecca for good coffee, but Summit Coffee stands out as a great option
Veronica Vale: The French Broad Chocolate Lounge is one of my favorite coffee shops, named after the French Broad River where my husband and I love to white water raft. This shop is mainly a chocolate lounge, but if you love mochas as much as I do, this stop is as delicious as it gets. Plus, it’s right across the street from the Asheville Art Museum, so it’s the perfect spot for a post-art museum treat.
THE BEST ASHEVILLE ART SITE:
Peter Roux: I love The River Arts District, where my studio is. This is a much different scene that has grown organically. It’s a community of other artists – and there is a range of artists (several hundred) – in a small area. Its nice to interact with different groups of artists. The solitary aspect is maintained but can be communal when you want.
Plus, the public comes through if you open your doors. Some of the studio space is dedicated to showing work. People want to see artists work. Many are just curious, but you will also have collectors come through.
Veronica Vale: Asheville is renowned for its art scene, from the high quality galleries downtown to the offbeat, artsy culture all around. However, one of the most unique and exciting art sites Asheville has to boast is The River Arts District. The River Art District is an area of formerly industrial buildings, renovated and modernized to serve as art galleries, art studio spaces, and art workshops. Here you can enroll in a class to learn a craft like glass blowing or metal working or you can stroll the streets and see curated fine art exhibitions alongside actual artist studios.
New Gallery MAR artist Peter Roux has such a studio in The River Arts District where he welcomes visitors and offers them an inside look into his process in real time. If you’re planning a trip to Asheville, make sure to set aside some time to visit The River Arts District to learn a new craft, peruse the art, or even say hello to Peter Roux.
OTHER REASONS TO LOVE ASHEVILLE:
Peter Roux: I love Asheville because it’s very unique. The sense of community in the visual arts is strong here and the natural environment is stunning. The culture, the art, the music, the food, and the beer scene, along with the outdoors makes it such an incredibly rich, dense combination that it feels different from any other place in North Carolina. The Blue Ridge Mountains are breathtaking in a very intimate way to me. They have such a presence.
Veronica Vale: Asheville, like Park City, sits high up in the mountains, so the beauty and power of nature is infused into everything the city does. Plus Asheville’s big city accommodations mixed with its quirky spirit allows it to blend high brow cultural gems with offbeat, eccentric fun, guaranteeing something for everyone and solidifying its status as one of America’s most unique and artsy cities.
Written by Veronica Vale and Gallery MAR artist Peter Roux