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:

It was a match made in Wausau. The Center for the Visual Arts has a new home in the former Wausau Area Chamber of Commerce building at the corner of Fourth and Scott Streets. It fits nicely there, next to the Performing Arts Foundation – its landlord – and the Grand Theatre, kindred souls of our arts community.

The juxtaposition creates an arts corner….Wausau is blessed….

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
         Interim Director   

         Rose DeHut                       2012 - 2018

         Kelly Price 2018 - Present