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A stroll through Kenilworth's art tour

May is a beautiful time in Asheville with flowers in bloom and the colors of spring in perfect harmony.

May is also a time when Kenilworth artists open up their studios to the public, presenting their art on their home turf. This year’s Kenilworth Art Studio Tour will take place over Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday, May 26 and Sunday, May 27 from 10am to 5pm each day.

The free, self-guided tour takes you to the home studios where artists are working in a wide range of media. The Tour Map can be downloaded and all studio addresses found at As you drive through Kenilworth, you will see the signs indicating where the studios are located. The tour is fun for both the serious art buyer or the casual browser.

Since its inception in 2008, the Kenilworth Artists Association tours have brought thousands of art lovers to the historic neighborhood. The tour includes painters offering works in oil, watercolor, and acrylic. You’ll also find jewelry, pottery, ceramic tile, glass beads, fiber, furniture, mixed-media, photography, paper, and collage.

Kenilworth is less than two miles from downtown Asheville, and is located between Biltmore Avenue, Tunnel Road and Swannanoa River Road. If you haven’t driven through the Kenilworth neighborhood, the May art tour will provide you with the perfect opportunity to see Kenilworth’s vast array of period, revival and contemporary residential architecture.

According to the Preservation Society of Asheville & Buncombe County, Kenilworth includes wonderful examples of Norman and Tudor cottages, New England Colonial Revival, International Modern Style, Mediterranean Colonial Revival, various forms of Craftsman, several log cabins, rural farm houses, a faux Wrightian Prairie House, and a sprinkling of bold new contemporary styles.

A little history …

The original Kenilworth Inn was built in 1890 by Joseph M. Gazzam, a former state senator and businessman from Pennsylvania. Sitting above the Swannanoa River, the inn, with its Queen Anne (some say Gothic) architecture and numerous turrets featured everything from riding stables to a golf course and tennis courts. It was the scene of many major social events until it was destroyed in a disastrous fire on the night of April 14, 1909.

By 1914, Kenilworth was officially founded as a town by three developers. One of the three, James (Jake) Madison Chiles, played a key role in its development, directing the building of important structures, such as the town hall and jail house.

Chiles was also responsible for rebuilding the venerable Kenilworth Inn. He bought the burned out property and in 1918 opened the new Tudor-style inn as a resort hotel, complete with ballrooms, a convention hall, library, and outdoor venues. On the National Register of Historic Places, the inn has served in a variety of capacities over the years, and is now available as historic apartments.

In 1928, following the death of her husband, Leah Chiles was elected mayor of Kenilworth. As an artist and concert pianist, Leah was instrumental in the first Kenilworth Art Exhibition, which opened in 1928. It was held at the Kenilworth Inn and brought people here from all over the world to see the works of Renoir, Picasso and other masters.

The role of Jake and Leah Chiles in the development of Kenilworth cannot be understated. Their vision helped bring Kenilworth to life and drew many of America’s society patrons to this area. Kenilworth was annexed by the city of Asheville in 1929 following the economic crash.

Asheville and art …

Asheville has been a haven for artists for decades. The Southern Highland Craft Guild opened its headquarters in 1930 and Black Mountain College contributed to the appeal when it was founded in 1933. As an experimental college, BMC emphasized holistic learning and the study of art as critical components of a liberal arts education. Many notable artists came out of Black Mountain College during its lifetime.

During the mid-1980s, artists new to Asheville began moving into the area along the French Broad River and by the early 1990s, a sizable artists’ colony had developed.

The Kenilworth artists …

Artists participating in the Kenilworth Art Studio Tour include: Gabriel Huntress (Caledonia Saw Mill): Artistic wood crafts constructed from local hardwoods

Diana Gillispie (Asheville Tileworks and Pottery): Hand built and thrown contemporary pottery, and hand pressed nature-themed architectural tiles

Michael Robinson: Landscape paintings and drawings in oil, watercolor pencil, and ink

Tamela Wells (TAMELA): Unique handmade jewelry designed and created using silver and gemstones

Ann and Sandy Batton (Batton Clayworks): Stylistic and functional handmade pottery in an array of original designs

Jay Fields (artist, journalist and author of regional histories): Creating pen and watercolor sketches from expeditions near and far

Racole Tackett (Racole Honey Wearable Art): Handmade, one of a kind jewelry from raw, fresh water pearls and other gemstones

Angela Maddix (A Working Glass Girl): Handcrafted lampwork glass beads paired with silver, steel and leather to produce unique jewelry

Mike and Rhianna Wurman: Illuminated cut paper shadowboxes inspired by nature

Lisa Murphy: Colorful paintings and drawings offered in a variety of mediums

Marianne Soufas (Flying Weiner Circus): Functional porcelain pottery for dog lovers

Ursula Gullow (visual artist and art instructor at A-B Tech): Paintings using acrylic, oil and mixed media drawn on social dynamics and historical events

Valarie Hoh (Hoh Couture): Unique hand crafted fashion, jewelry and art sculptures

Laura Peery (porcelain artist): Fanciful, colorful ceramic art, both functional and sculptural

Ann Baird (Riva Art Studio): Beautifully created, original handmade Shibori silk scarves in vibrant colors

Kelly Barone (Kelly Barone Pottery): Functional and decorative stoneware and porcelain vessels, and wall pieces, based on mountain-inspired designs

What could be better for a holiday weekend than to drive through the beautiful Kenilworth neighborhood? If architecture is your passion, you won’t be disappointed, and you’ll have the opportunity to meet the artists and see their creations. Come experience where these artists work in their home studios and enjoy the wonderful eclectic Asheville neighborhood atmosphere.

Kenilworth Art Studio Tour: Memorial Day Weekend, May 26 - May 27, 10am to 5pm each day. For more information and a tour map:

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