It was 1994 when a pioneering group of artists and art lovers got together to envision a cultural arts center for Visalia. At that time there was no permanent place to view visual arts exhibitions or participate in art classes for children or adults. Spurred on by Luci Merritt and Helen Stanton, that persevering group of visionaries formed a working board, filed articles of incorporation, and put on lots of fundraising and promotional events throughout the community. The generous local philanthropists willing to invest in an idea for an art center were vital in its realization. With the further assistance of a Visalia City Redevelopment Agency loan and public grants the historic Visalia Creamery building was purchased from Sue Ann Peterson, whose gracious negotiations with Arts Visalia aided in making it possible. Charter board members and building partners donated professional services and hands-on physical labor to transform the historic building into the stunning gallery space you see today.
The founders of Arts Visalia accomplished their goals of providing visual arts programs for the benefit of the public to enhance the visuals arts and cultural life of the area. They maintained a public art gallery featuring artwork that reached out into the community and expanded its artistic vision. They strove to recognize and encourage cultural diversity and assist in preserving these heritages through the visual arts. They conducted arts education classes for all ages and ethnic groups and provided a display place for the results of the classes to be viewed by the community. In addition, they provided scholarships and other arts education opportunities to budding artists and recognized dedicated patrons of the arts at the annual PatriARTic event.
With the support of many throughout the years, we have fervently carried on their vision and are pleased to pay tribute to our Silver Anniversary. As we commemorate this milestone, we acknowledge and thank the original benefactors and all who continue to invest in making Arts Visalia a vibrant center for the visual arts. We hope you’ll join us in recognizing our founders and building partners, recounting our history, and celebrating our vision of educating, engaging, and enhancing our community through the visual arts.