Surrounded by the highest peaks in the East, Asheville is steeped in natural history, adventure and cultural legacies – including America’s Largest Home, Biltmore. The Asheville area is home to more than 30 breweries, the most per capita in the country, over 250 independent restaurants and a vibrant music and art scene. With more than 100 glass artists living and working in the region, Western North Carolina is a destination for glass art in the nation, and Asheville’s vibrant community of galleries and studios is a draw for glass collectors and art enthusiasts.
Inspired by an upcoming Chihuly exhibition at Biltmore and the region’s direct connections to the American roots of studio glass art, Western North Carolina glass artists and studios have created Asheville’s Summer of Glass, an immersive community-wide celebration May through October. The event includes VIP glass experiences, exhibitions, working studio tours and hands-on events in Asheville and nearby communities, as well as an expansive exhibition from internationally-acclaimed contemporary glass artist Dale Chihuly at Biltmore. http://www.SummerofGlass.com
CHIHULY AT BILTMORE
Day & Evening Exhibitions Merge Masterpieces of Great American Artists
The works of America’s most famous contemporary glass artist will highlight the designs of the country’s foremost landscape artist May 17 through October 7 when the large-scale glass sculptures of Dale Chihuly are on display across Frederick Law Olmsted’s legendary gardens and in the former home of George W. Vanderbilt. “Chihuly at Biltmore” is the first-ever art exhibition in Biltmore’s historic gardens. Special garden plantings, designed in collaboration between Chihuly and Biltmore’s landscape team, will complement the sculptures. On select evenings, the house and gardens will be open for special viewings after dark. “Chihuly Nights at Biltmore” combines these spectacular installations with dramatic lighting, Blue Ridge Mountain sunsets, live music and an alfresco wine bar. More info.
SUMMER OF GLASS
Celebrate the Region’s Studio Glass Roots with Hands-on Experiences
More than 60 participants, including artists, studios, galleries, educational institutions and tour operators, have events planned for the community-wide Summer of Glass celebration May through October, occurring in conjunction with “Chihuly at Biltmore.” Asheville-area glass artists and studios are celebrating the historical and contemporary context of glass and its talented artists with whimsical demos, nationally-relevant glass shows, history exhibits and hands-on experiences. With over 100 glass artists living and working in the region, Asheville’s vibrant community of galleries and studios is a draw for glass collectors and art enthusiasts across the country. More on special events.
EXPERIENCE ASHEVILLE’S GLASS SCENE
VIP Tours, Events and Packages Illuminate Art Hot Spots
On any given day in the region, places like Lexington Glassworks, the North Carolina Glass Center and studios in the River Arts District and beyond allow visitors to watch glass artists at work. Asheville is filled with art galleries and shops like Blue Spiral 1, Bender Gallery, Mountain Made Gallery and the Southern Highland Craft Guild’s Folk Art Center, and tours like Art Connections and Asheville Art Studio Tours take guests on guided art explorations, often including glass blowing instruction and hands-on opportunities. Travel experiences and packages have also been created specifically for Summer of Glass:
- VIP Glass Weekend: The Summer of Glass VIP Weekend Tour, available monthly in June, July, August and September, is a three-day itinerary looping in several of the top studios and galleries in Western N.C., special artist talks, art-themed meals, tickets to “Chihuly at Biltmore” and hands-on glass blowing experiences. Additional tour information.
- Art Scene Trolley Tour: All regular Gray Line Trolley Tours May through October will stop in Asheville art scene hot spots, provide a map pointing to nearby studios and galleries and include narration on the region’s glass art scene and history.
- Summer of Glass Travel Package: Aloft Asheville Downtown’s Summer of Glass Package includes overnight accommodations, an exclusive behind-the-scenes glass blowing experience at Lexington Glassworks where guests will make their own beer glass, wine glass or ornament and two tickets to “Chihuly at Biltmore.” TIP: Enjoy the bar in the back of the studio serving local beer in hand-blown pint glasses.
- Chihuly at Biltmore Package: Biltmore is offering Chihuly at Biltmore Packages at the Inn on Biltmore and Village Hotel that include overnight accommodations, a special Chihuly gift, daytime admission and audio guides.
DEEP ROOTS IN THE AMERICAN GLASS MOVEMENT
Glass Art Godfather Harvey Littleton & Penland School of Craft
Directly connected to the American roots of studio glass and home to the first community of studio glass artists, Western N.C. played a major role in bringing glass from functional to decorative and sculptural. Along with several colleagues, Harvey Littleton – known as the “father of the studio glass movement in America” – began to innovate with blown glass, and in 1965, his student Bill Boysen built a groundbreaking studio glass furnace at Penland School of Craft in nearby Bakersville. Littleton moved to the area in 1976, and some of his students and peers, including Dale Chihuly, have studied and taught at Penland throughout the years. Other major institutions in the area sharing the stories of the region’s rich art history include Black Mountain College Museum + Art Center, The Center for Craft Creativity and Design, Toe River Arts Council, the Asheville Area Arts Council and the North Carolina Glass Center, the largest nonprofit public-access glass studio in the Southeast. More about glass in the region.