This year the Winterset Art Center celebrates its 60-year anniversary – evidence that the founding members’ passion continues to serve our community in many important ways.
The Winterset Art Center came into being in 1958 when the first adult art class was taught by the late Winterset art teacher Don Thomas. Soon after, a group of local artists planted a vision for a dedicated space where artists could gather and create – a place that would ultimately become the Winterset Art Center. Don had been teaching art classes at the old two-story elementary school, which was problematic because art supplies and projects had to be brought back and forth for classes. As an alternative, Bill and Dorothy Good offered a space over the Good Bakery, which proved to be too hot to hold art classes.
A new location was then offered and volunteers cleaned, painted and improved the space. The group of artists continued to grow and a year later they were on the move again. Hallie Kauffman became a member of the art group and offered the use of the lower level of the Kauffman Laundromat, now the Darling & Darling Law Firm, where classes and artwork continued to thrive.
During the early years the group of local artists never lost sight of their vision of having a permanent location. When the opportunity to purchase a vacant home on John Wayne Drive was presented, the permanent home of the Winterset Art Center became a reality.
Today, the Winterset Art Center’s mission is to: “Promote active engagement with the arts through classes, events, exhibition, and patronage of the arts.”
The Art Center is a lively center of activity supported by a growing membership throughout our community and beyond – reaching a large number of youth and adults with arts programming, events, and exhibits. Integrating the arts more fully into our lives enriches each of us. They teach students innumerable lessons: practice makes perfect, small changes can have big effects, collaboration leads to creativity, and so much more.
The link between the economic health of a community and the arts is significant. Communities with a thriving arts presence encourage positive community development. Many exciting things are underway at the Art Center. The Iowa Arts Council now collaborates with the Winterset Art Center thorough ArtsLab, a leadership and strategy development opportunity for Iowa arts organizations. This opportunity helps ensure that the Art Center’s board of directors has the skills, ideas and networks needed for the Art Center to flourish.
The Madison County Women’s Giving Circle has donated funds allowing the Winterset Art Center to create an endowed scholarship fund allowing young artists to participate in workshops at no charge. The Art Center’s goal is that no child should miss out on art activities due to financial hardship. Scholarship forms are available at the local schools, community non-profit organizations and at the Winterset Art Center.
The Greater Madison County Community Foundation, created by and for local citizens to improve the quality of life in Madison County, Iowa, awarded a $10,000 grant this year for interior improvement to the Art Center facility. Work has begun, starting with repairs to the building’s foundation. A secure and stable foundation provides the path for renovations that will make the facility accessible to everyone, improve the interior structure, and add outside lighting. Watch for continued work this fall.
To celebrate the 60-year anniversary you can support the Art Center in continuing to serve our community. Become a member, volunteer, make a donation to the Year 60 campaign, or participate in classes. Visit
wintersetartcenter.net, follow on Facebook, or call 515-462-4600 to learn how you can be part of what’s happening at the Art Center.