The Center for the Visual Arts boasts a 30 year history of fostering visual arts education in downtown Wausau, Wisconsin. The seed was planted in 1982, by an established watercolor artist, Rita Crooks. Rita recognized the need for art education beyond that available through the school system. With area artists and community leaders, the goals were established that remain core to the CVA today:
To enhance the appreciation of and education in the visual arts
To promote creativity
To support an exhibition gallery
To maintain a juried gallery shop
The journey began in artists’ homes, moving to the First Presbyterian Church on Grant Street, Wausau Lakeside Plywood, The Crooks’ Law Firm Library, and the Wausau Conservatory of Music before setting up shop in 1990 at the present location on the 400 Block.
As Tom Berger, Opinion Page Editor wrote in 1989:
The Center for Visual Arts embraced the new space, creating a gallery, gift shop, classrooms and a pottery studio offering classes for adults and children in all visual art mediums.
In 2000, the Performing Arts Foundation completed a major fund drive to remodel the Grand Theater and to create a new space between the theater and the CVA with galleries resulting in a premier juried exhibition space. Arts Block was completed, showcasing The Caroline S. Mark Gallery which houses new shows regularly. The Loft Gallery, on the second floor provides space for locally themed exhibits and programs.
Today, like The Grand, the CVA leases administrative and classroom space from The Grand Theatre Foundation.
The Grand Theatre Foundation with The Grand offers the gallery spaces for event rental for up to 100 participants with the CVA providing ever changing backdrops for receptions, celebrations and presentation ceremonies.
Directors of the Center for the Visual Arts
Rita Crooks 1981 – 1985
Deborah Porter 1985 – 1986
Lisa Walk Martin 1986 – 1988
Judy Beier 1988 – 1997
Beth Hanson 1997 - 2000
Kathi Brizek 2000 - 2002
Sherry Kieffer 2002 - 2004
Ann Jaroski 2004 - 2007
Katie Crotteau 2007 – 2011
Rachael Carstens 2011 - 2012
Rose DeHut 2012 - 2018
Kelly Price 2018 - Present