River Arts District Public Art Plan Implementation

embrace context mixed imagery of river arts district locations
Embrace Context

Happening Now

Update: August 2020

The City is  re-booting implementation of the River Arts District (RAD) Public Art Plan! These two projects are currently in process:


A quote made of stand-alone letters cut out of metal that will be attached to the new greenway pedestrian bridge  (over Bacoate Branch, across from 8RAP) on the east side of the French Broad River along Riverside Drive. The artist chosen for the project is DeWayne Barton. The quote “All Feet Stand Under the Stars”  is from his poem, “Dust Won’t Catch Our Dreams”. This project will be installed in Fall 2020.

      Street Furniture 1

John Payne’s (R.I.P!) striking metal chair-the one that formerly sat outside his studio at the Wedge Building- will be cleaned up by his former teammate Tina Councell of Iron Maiden Studios and installed on the sidewalk at the northern corner of River Arts Place and Lyman Street. Special thanks goes to Tim Schaller of Wedge Brewing for helping make this possible.

Coming Soon- Call for Artists in Fall/Winter 2020

  • Murals: The Captain Bowen (Smoky Park/ I-240) bridge abutments and the West Asheville-RiverLink (Haywood Road) bridge abutments within Jean Webb Park are the suggested locations for murals. Both the RADTIP Public Art Plan and the Riparian Enhancement Plan provide suggestions as to what the theme of that artwork could be.
  • Swing Panels: Artistic metal cutouts will be applied to large swing structures and installed in the River Arts District. This project is being completed through a partnership with the University of North Carolina Asheville’s STEAM Studio, so a call for artists will not be released. This project is scheduled for Fall 2020
  • Playful Art A permanent, playful art-themed piece that provides an interactive experience for people of all ages  to enjoy in the River Arts District.
  • Park Gateway: The design and installation of artwork, landscaping, and site furnishings that help define a pedestrian entrance into Jean Webb Park. Winter (Jan-Feb) 2020 engagement.

To assist with the selection of proposals for this next wave of RAD public art installations, The City’s Public Art and Cultural Commission has named an Advisory + Selection Committee (ASC) made up of local artists and art advocates.


The City is committed to supporting the installation of public art in the River Arts District as part of the larger community vision for growth and development in the area, as evidenced in the Wilma Dykeman Plan, the Riverside Drive Development Plan, the RAD Public Art Plan, and the recently adopted Riparian Plan. While the projects described above are associated with fulfilling the City’s Percent for Public Art Policy for the construction project known as RADTIP, other projects have been installed in the past years as opportunities and community partnerships presented themselves. These have included the Big Fish (a partnership with Green Works created by David Earl Tomlinson),  Poetry Pathways (which featured poetry by local artist Cleaster Cotton) and the preservation of the artwork on the walls around 304 Lyman Street (created by various artists).

The goal of those projects, and the upcoming five RAD public art projects, is to help further develop the expanded open space along the French Broad riverfront and strengthen the identity that our local and regional artists in the River Arts District have created over the past thirty-plus years.

Sidebar to RAD Public Art: Place Partners

Have an idea about a public artwork that can be installed temporarily in the RAD? The City’s Public Art and Cultural Commission expressed support for City staff’s testing of a new pilot program in 2018. This program- aka Place Partners- provides a process for organizations to initiate temporary enhancements in city-managed spaces (sidewalks and streets) in the City’s commercial corridors. The Program is intended to enable temporary installations such as public art, amenities and other enhancements that contribute to the spirit and character of Asheville and align with City Council’s 2036 Vision. Find details here.

Contact Information

Stephanie Monson Dahl, The City’s Strategic Design and Development Manager, coordinates the City’s Public Art Program