The Asheville Downtown Gallery Association's Art Walks don't come with the most exciting of names. "Art Walk" is serviceable, but it's no swanky "studio stroll," no adventure-laden "Art Safari," no (perhaps) indulged-to-excess "gallery crawl." And still, each April when the couple dozen downtown galleries open their doors for the season's first TGIF after-hours gallery hopping event, people come out in droves.
Miles Bender, owner of two-level art glass showroom The Bender Gallery, also compiles exhibition updates for the ADGA Web site. He points out that "The weather doesn't really permit an art walk prior to April," so this year's April 2 stroll not only launches the art tour season for downtown Asheville, but for the WNC region. Worth noting — while many events follow, some with biannual happenings (The River District Studio Stroll and the Toe River Arts Council studio tour, for example), ADGA's walks will sandwich the season with a newly added first Friday in December (Dec. 3) event.
Though the ADGA is nearing a decade as an entity, in truth the collective formed simply to promote its walks and to publish an annual brochure listing participating galleries. The lack of internal organization may come as a surprise, especially as other area tours — started in the wake of an likely inspired by the success of the downtown walks — are fast picking up steam and popularity. There there are other events, such as West Asheville's West Walk, that have fallen by the wayside and are sorely missed missed. There are art/tour themed happenings, such as the excellent if not regularly scheduled Urban Loft + Art Tour and several annual garden tours that borrow from the downtown art walk's impetus. And, following ADGA's lead, seasonal festivities like Asheville's well-attended Downtown After Five series and numerous Art After Dark programs scattered around WNC have found ardent fan bases.
But what else hits quite the right note of culture plus socializing plus wine and cheese plus hoofing it through downtown during the rush and energy of a Friday evening? Really, masterminded or not, the ADGA art walks continue to be highly anticipated and happily embraced as both a symbol of spring and a reminder of all that Asheville has to offer. Additional walks take place on Fridays from 5-8 p.m. on June 4, Aug. 6, Oct. 8 and Dec. 3.
who: Asheville Downtown Gallery Association's Art Walk
what: First gallery stroll of the season
where: Downtown Asheville on Haywood, Spruce, Broadway and College Streets; Biltmore, Patton, Lexington, Page, Battery Park and Biltmore Avenues; Wilson Alley and Pack Square.
when: Friday, April 2 (5-8 p.m. Free. ashevilledowntowngalleries.org)