The streets of Waynesville are lined with galleries and shops, many selling North Carolina arts and crafts. Most are commercially owned, but one was founded and operated by the Haywood County Arts Council, an organization that, for 30 years, is celebrating community arts. The gallery—and upstairs council offices—is named for is storefront location at 86 Main Street. Gallery 86 has 625 square feet of exhibition space. With a blend of the old and new, the gallery retains historic details like its hardwood floors, now surrounded by contemporary white walls and a state-of-the-art lighting system that show off the artwork on view. In addition to changing monthly exhibitions, the site includes 144 square feet of retail space where local artisans sell their work.
The Arts Council was formed in 1977. It operated without a permanent location for several decades before opening Gallery 86 in 2005. Since that time, Gallery 86 has presented dozens of exhibitions showcasing the work of the region’s artists.
The Arts Council and Gallery 86 are affiliated with the Waynesville Gallery Association, an association of eleven professional galleries and studios in downtown Waynesville. Gallery 86 and the Waynesville Gallery Association participate in Art After Dark, a monthly event in which the stores and galleries are open in the evening. Locals and visitors alike spend the evening walking along the brick-lined streets under a canopy of trees, taking in exhibitions and enjoying a dinner in town.