Art Center prepares for event to celebrate completion of renovations

Published 5:39 pm Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Like the plethora of superhero movies that came out to build the backstory before the release of “The Avengers” back in 2012, all of the phases of work and repair that went into the Albert Lea Art Center in downtown Albert Lea are finally over and the end product is on full display.

“We own our own building now,” said Beth Tostenson, artistic director for the Art Center. “We made the last payment on our building, we have gotten our new roof as of the end of June, and now we had the carpeting installed.”

The building has been repainted, bathrooms are completed and the center is finally put together.

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To celebrate, the center is having an event to recognize the generosity of the community and what they’ve done to help.

Board member Bonnie Wedge said the project was a long time coming, and according to Tostenson the entire project was four years in the making from when the Art Center moved into its building.

Bonnie Broitzman, another member of the board of directors, particularly liked the openness of the center, and described the building as a place where both large and small groups could gather. Wedge liked the visibility of the location.

“We want the community to know that we’re here for them, and they’ve been here for us,” Broitzman said.

The celebration will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Oct. 14 at the Art Center, and there will be snacks, refreshments and a cash bar. Everyone is invited to the free event.

Anybody that’s curious about the improvements or wants to talk to members is encouraged to visit.

“Any time you open the doors and have refreshments and have a good intention for people to come together, it’s an opportunity for them to see what is here for the community,” Broitzman said. “It’s really a community center endeavor for creativity and sponsoring things that people like to do with their hands.”

She also called the center a “wonderful” addition to the area, and Tostenson hoped the building would serve as a place for artists to show their work for years to come.

Besides the large display area, the center has a classroom and gift shop where artists can bring in their work for sale. Tostenson said artwork was changed out regularly.

“We really have expanded into a full area,” Broitzman said. “… The community really can be encouraged that they can show their work.”

Tostenson declined to say how much the entire renovation cost, but Wedge added that it was done in segments and was made possible through the generosity of the community.

“For me, it’s permanent,” Broitzman said. “It’s now a community center with creativity and arts as the focus, and it’s just a wonderful addition to a town this size.”

Tostenson was hopeful the Art Center would be around for years, and Wedge said it felt wonderful to see the project come together.

“When you see what we started with, and where we are now, it’s absolutely a transformation,” Wedge said. “It’s amazing.”

Anyone interested in becoming a member should stop in to the Art Center and fill out an application. There is a membership fee.