By Sandy McLeod Asheville is a premiere destination for artists, art collectors and art lovers.  The city is being promoted and written about as an arts destination.  Visitors interested in the vis By Sandy McLeod Asheville is a premiere destination for artists, art collectors and art lovers.  The city is being promoted and written about as an arts destination.  Visitors interested in the visual arts will find a high level of work being produced, exhibited and collected in Asheville. Following is just a sampling of Downtown Asheville art venues for the cultured visitor. It is by no means a complete list of art galleries, museums and exhibition spaces in Asheville. I have chosen to focus on these major sites because they have a strong influence on visual art in the Western North Carolina area. Many of these galleries have been in Asheville since the beginning of the cultural revival of Downtown Asheville in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  Several of these galleries have moved to larger renovated spaces and continue to define and express Asheville’s rich art and culture as well as trends in contemporary art. Blue Spiral 1 Gallery Founded in 1991, the Blue Spiral Gallery 1 is one of Asheville’s oldest and most respected galleries.  In the past few years, Blue Spiral Gallery moved to a newly renovated 15,000 square foot space at 38 Biltmore Avenue.  In this spacious new setting visitors can view simultaneous exhibitions of Southern artists and object makers. Group shows as well as shows focused on individual artists can be seen at Blue Spiral Gallery.  An open stairway connects the three floors.  Hours of operation are:  10-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday and Sundays from 12- 5 p.m. Gallery Minerva Just up the street from Blue Spiral Gallery at 8 Biltmore Avenue, is the Gallery Minerva.  This gallery showcases internationally recognized artists working in the mediums of painting and sculpture.  The audience Gallery Minerva cultivates is: art collectors, interior designers and architects. The casual visitor and appreciator of fine art will find something to love in Gallery Minerva, which displays art that expresses surrealist, mythological and ethereal themes.   Gallery Minerva is open Monday – Thursday  11 – 6 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 11 – 7 p.m. and Sunday Noon- 5 p.m. Haen Gallery The Haen Gallery is a superb venue with shows that emphasize the works of artists working and living in the Western North Carolina and Southern Appalachian region.  Haen Gallery is located at 52 Biltmore Avenue and the inviting space easily pulls the interested visitor into the main gallery.  Visitors will find shows where artists are expertly paired according to thematic content or technique, and group exhibitions that showcase the newest work by artists who are represented by Haen.  The Haen Gallery is open Mon., Wed-Fri. from 10 - 6 p.m.; Tues, Sat. from 11-6 p.m. and Sun. from Noon-5 p.m. Asheville Art Museum The Asheville Art Museum is located at 2 Pack Square, in the heart of Downtown Asheville.  Visitors will find it well worth a serious look.  The Asheville Art Museum exhibits and collects 20th and 21st Century American art and hosts programs related to this work.  Art that expresses Western North Carolina’s cultural heritage, including studio craft, Black Mountain College and Cherokee artists is featured prominently.   The Museum is open from Tuesday – Saturday, 10 – 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1-5 p.m.  Admission is $8 for adults and $7 for students and seniors.  Children under age 5 are admitted free. Woolworth Walk Housed in the historic F.W. Woolworth Building at 25 Haywood Street, this unique gallery exhibits a wide array of artists working in different media.  There are over 160 artists displaying work in fiber, glass, jewelry, painting, photography, pottery, metal, mixed media, wood and digital art.  The soda fountain in the upstairs portion of the gallery is the perfect place to relax in an environment that evokes the past.  Works in this gallery are affordable, practical and in some cases - wearable.  Woolworth Walk is a great place to stop in and purchase an item that helps the visitor to remember the uniqueness of Asheville.  Winter hours are 11- 5 Tues. & Sun. and 11- 6 p.m. the rest of the week. Any visitor who comes to Asheville can immediately see that art is a main component of the lifestyle of this Southern Appalachian town.   Those who visit Asheville will not want to miss the opportunity to see the unique, high quality visual art available in Downtown Asheville and other areas of town. Asheville Downtown Gallery Association invites visitors to see the downtown galleries to enjoy the fine art and craft that they have to offer. Asheville was voted the #1 small city in the country by the readers of American Style magazine 2 years running. Mark your calendars for the 2012 Art Walks: April 6, June 1, August 3, October 5, December 7 From 5 - 8 pm The Asheville Downtown Gallery Association has 23 downtown venues for you to visit that are listed on the Downtown Gallery Guide with a map to help you along the way. These can be found at any participating downtown gallery, the Chamber of Commerce, or Pack Place.