A number of years ago, artists, began working in unused warehouses along the French Broad River down Chicken Hill from downtown. Asheville had a thriving inland port 100 years ago, but as in many other cities, the port closed and the large warehouses emptied.
More and more artists heard about the big, tall warehouse rooms and more and more opened studios. Today there are 165 artists working and exhibiting in 18 buildings in Asheville's River Arts District, and, at last count, seven restaurants for lunch or a snack while exploring the studios or dinner afterwards.
It's not the only place to see art in Asheville -- downtown also has plenty of galleries. But even though the district has gentrified a lot, it's still a place where you can talk to artists while they're taking a break from their work and can feel something of the isolation with which many working artists live.