Asheville Gallery of Art (AGA), the longest continually running gallery in Asheville, celebrates 35 years this October. In honor of the milestone, AGA presents the exhibition Celebration!, a collection of joyful works by the gallery’s artists running through October 31.
AGA began in 1988 when 31 local artists came together to launch an artist-owned and artist-operated gallery at 16 College Street.
“There were not many fine art galleries in downtown Asheville back then,” says Sahar Fakhoury, who joined AGA more than 22 years ago. “The art in the gallery was very inspiring, and the fact that it was a co-op was very attractive to me, as I was new in town and wanted to be part of the community, rather than just hanging my work in a gallery.”
The gallery’s long-held success can be at least partially attributed to its artist-owner model. “There were many artists who set strong stones for guidance from the beginning, then others continued to improve the guidelines in which we do business as needed,” says Fakhoury. “We operate in a democratic atmosphere and everything is very transparent among us.”
In 2014, the gallery relocated to its current location at 82 Patton Avenue. Judy Rentner, an artist at AGA for 21 years, says the move was a distinct improvement. “It was a major change from a smaller space to a brightly lit, open-floor plan that displayed the art in a more professional way,” she says. “The artwork literally shined in its new setting.”
What’s kept Rentner loyal over the past two decades is a rich culture of networking with other artists. “We share a vision, have similar interests and ideas,” she says. “There is also the delight in seeing fellow artists evolve in their work, just as I have. We learn from each other and we encourage each other.”
There will be a reception for Celebration! on Friday, October 6, from 5–8 p.m. On Thursday, October 19 at 4 p.m., there will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the gallery hosted by the Asheville Chamber of Commerce, followed by a special, festive reception. All events are open to the public and free to attend.
“As a gallery owned and run by local, fine artists,” says Fakhoury, “the Asheville Gallery of Art is the hidden gem of the Western North Carolina art scene. The Asheville art scene began here 35 years ago, and continues.”
Asheville Gallery of Art is located at 82 Patton Avenue in Asheville. Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. To learn more, call 828.251.5796, visit AshevilleGallery-of-Art.com or follow the gallery’s Facebook page.