Albert Lea Art Center plans to move

Published 10:08 am Monday, May 12, 2014

After 28 years on South Broadway, the Albert Lea Art Center is moving to a new location.

In time for its “White on White” gallery exhibition, the Art Center will open before the end of the month at 226 W. Clark Street in the former Tubbs Chiropractic building.

“We’re excited to be in a place where we’re starting the type of art center Albert Lea deserves,” said Albert Lea Art Center President Tom Ferleman.

Email newsletter signup

The nonprofit organization has been looking at multiple buildings over the past five years — many of which have been downtown — as the relationship between its present owner deteriorated. The Art Center was in the middle of a 99-year lease with Bessessen Building owner Susanne Crane, but after a three-year court battle, a Minnesota Court of Appeals judge authorized the Art Center’s request to terminate its lease.

The Clark Street location will house multiple gallery rooms, along with a storage room, a kitchen, a bathroom and space for the Art Center’s gift shop.

“It actually adapts really well,” Ferleman said, noting the organization’s intent to expand its programming.

Board treasurer Bev Jackson Cotter said she recalls the building being a Thrivent location, and before that in the 1950s it was a fruit market and candy store.

“It’s a wonderful little piece of Albert Lea history,” she said.

The “White on White” show begins with an open house at 6 p.m. May 23, and the move is expected to be complete by June 1.


A bigger goal

Ferleman said the nonprofit organization hopes to be on Clark Street temporarily; however, its ultimate goal is to be in the Freeborn National Bank Building.

The Art Center has been in negotiations with developer Cohen-Esrey of Overland Park, Kan., for the first floor of the building. Cohen-Esrey has been negotiating with the city for the building and is slated to present its plans to the public on Tuesday during an open house.

If all goes according to plan, the Art Center would move back downtown to the bank building 12 to 18 months after renovations of the building begin.

“We’re looking forward to working with the city, the developers and the uptown merchants, as well as the public in Albert Lea, Freeborn County and the surrounding area,” Ferleman said.

The Art Center will launch a capital campaign kickoff to raise $500,000 for the bank building, which will include putting in dividers, displays, a kitchen, offices, storage and the store, to name a few renovations.

The open house begins with a meet and greet at 5:45 p.m., followed by a presentation at 6:15 p.m.

The capital campaign kickoff will be at 5:30 p.m. May 27 at the Freeborn National Bank Building, 209 S. Broadway, with developer Clint Jayne as the guest speaker.