Art is: Looking back and ahead for art center

Published 9:00 am Saturday, August 18, 2018

Art is by Bev Jackson Cotter

Bev Jackson Cotter is a member of the Albert Lea Art Center, where the move to the new building will cause a brief, temporary break in activities and will allow for a larger, more convenient location.

“ALAC 101.”

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I love that phrase. It sounds like a new class, a new beginning for the person who thinks he or she might be interested in art, and it’s the opportunity to try out something that has not been experienced before.

Bev Jackson Cotter

It also happens to be the new address for the Albert Lea Art Center, 101 S. Broadway. How about that coincidence?

On Sept. 1, the art center staff and volunteers will be joining together, inventorying, boxing, carrying, loading, stacking, arranging and rearranging all of the items that make up a viable, energetic, creative and educational organization.

The permanent art collection, art class supplies, gallery display items, the art library, commissioned art and new supplies from the store, file cabinets, computers, office supplies, coffee pots, dishes, a thousand and one items that keep an organization operating will all be moved from our temporary location on Clark Street to our permanent home on Broadway. It promises to be a fun day.

The Albert Lea Art Center has an interesting history.

Organized back in 1959 by internationally known, local artist Lloyd Herfindahl and the students in one of his classes, this 501(c)3 has had a fairly smooth ride with some unanticipated bumps.

From the beginning, classes have been an integral part of the art center’s offerings. Then the members had the opportunity to display their works in the Spanish Dining Room of the Hotel Albert, an historic building located on the corner of Broadway and East College, and Skinner Chamberlain department store, now Brick Furniture.

In 1960 the first Art in the Park took place in Central Park. Thanks to enthusiastic promotion, the event drew regional artists in to promote and sell their creations, area musicians and food vendors and a huge crowd. It was the beginning of many years of art/park festivities.

Finding a permanent home has been a tough go. The very first meetings were held at the Federal Savings and Loan on Clark and Newton, and for a time the group met in one of the houses that was scheduled to be torn down to make way for the hospital building on the shore of Fountain Lake. Then an old laundry building on Abbott Street was offered to them and the volunteers worked hard to make it into a gallery and classroom space. When the owner decided to use the building for another purpose, ALAC was again homeless.

In 1975 the group was able to purchase the small church at 501 W. Main, and in 1986 they moved into the Rivoli Mini Mall, the original B&B Theatre at 224 S. Broadway. In 2014, ALAC moved to 226 W. Clark and began their search for a permanent home on Broadway.

It’s been an interesting trip. The past 59 years have been filled with wonderful gallery shows both on site and off, art festivals in malls and parks, classes in classrooms and plein aire, gatherings and receptions both in the current building and in other area facilities, activities for children and adults of all ages.

Your art center has been encouraging creativity for folks in Albert Lea and in the surrounding area since its beginnings back in 1959. Our plan is to continue artistic achievement far into the future. Watch for the new logo, a symbol of new beginnings.

“ALAC 101” — your opportunity to share in an arts experience with a long, determined, creative history and an exciting future.