Village Art & Craft Fair
Aug. 3-4, Asheville
The Cathedral of All Souls is a finely crafted building. Designed by Richard Morris Hunt (architect of the Biltmore House) and completed in 1896, the Normanesque cathedral stands sentinel over Biltmore Village and is the distinguished backdrop to the village’s preeminent annual event, the Village Art & Craft Fair.
For many, it’s the best arts festival of the year because it’s so relaxed, even by the laissez faire standards of other art festivals. The village’s large trees shade many of the vendors’ booths, and the Cathedral’s lush, green grounds offer a cool respite from all there is to see.
Free and 41 years old this year, the fair will line the village’s streets with the work of 120 jewelers, wood workers, fiber artists and others. Curated by village craft shop New Morning Gallery, it features 25 artists this year whose work the gallery doesn’t carry, so even those who attend every year will see work they’ve never seen before.
Support the church’s outreach programs by buying some of their homemade treats. Or stop in The Corner Kitchen at 3 Boston Way for its delicious house burger made with beef raised and pastured in Brasstown.
Leicester Studio Tour
Aug. 17-18, Leicester
Call it “Lester” or “Lee-cester,” but you can’t go wrong by taking the Leicester Studio Tour in northwest Buncombe County Aug. 17-18. Some two dozen artists open their studios in this self-guided tour that takes participants through some of the prettiest countryside in Western North Carolina, including picturesque Sandy Mush.[quote float=”right”]“Living out here is so beautiful that a lot of artists are inspired by it. I’ve got one potter whose kiln I can see across the valley. When he fires it up and I can see smoke rising up, I know it’s time to take him a beer.”[/quote]
Many people start at Wildberry Lodge (135 Potato Branch Road, Leicester), where participating artists have installed a sample of their work. “Then you can go around Leicester and see the artists doing the kind of work you like,” said Lodge owner Ken Cahill. Cahill mentioned Marlow Gates, a second-generation broom maker, as someone especially worth visiting. Half the fun is getting to the artists’ studios.
“Living out here is so beautiful that a lot of artists are inspired by it,” Cahill said. “I’ve got one potter whose kiln I can see across the valley. When he fires it up and I can see smoke rising up, I know it’s time to take him a beer.”
Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival
Sept. 1, Asheville
And then there’s the freaky. The Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival, now 13 years old, is an arts festival for artists whose work might not get hung in a coffee shop, much less a gallery.
LAAFF, a free, all-local, all-original festival, is a visual and performance art spectacle that happens on North Lexington Avenue, the nexus of downtown Asheville’s do-it-yourself, independent business ethos. Shops and restaurants here are more than a little out of the mainstream, which describes the festival they inspire.
Though the festival is more than just an arts festival, everything about it is done in a visual way. LAAFF is a treat for the eyes. People bring wildly decorated cars, and everyone can help transform a “regular” car into a funky “art” car. The ever-popular bike jousting takes place every year, before and after which riders circle in sky-high bicycles to the beat of music coming from several stages.
River Arts District Studio Strolls
Every second Sat. thru Nov, Asheville
On the second Saturday of the month through November, the River Arts District Studio Strolls give you a glimpse inside the working spaces of the artists who have colonized Asheville’s river business district. The city’s first industrial zone fell into disrepair in the 1950s. Artists attracted to large spaces and cheap rents started moving in 20-some years ago.
During the studio strolls, more than 180 artists invite people to learn more about what they do. Work is for sale, and buyers can get to know the artists who made it. Ground Zero for the event is the five-point intersection in front of Clingman Café, whose stout coffee and homemade granola bring artists in for breakfast. For lunch, try their Odyssey sandwich – roast turkey, fresh mozzarella, tomato and house-made pesto on grilled ciabatta.