Our Artists’ Association was started in 1983 by Betty Wilson Clay and Mary Jane Choice. Our first meeting was in the Lincoln Room of the Mid American bank. Roger Clay conducted the first meeting and presented by-laws to get us started. The by-laws have been amended only a few times in 25 years. The main purpose of the organization was to promote the arts in Leavenworth County. Thus the name, The Leavenworth County Artists’ Association, was adopted.
Richard Waszak was elected our President. Our big art show each year was during Buffalo Bill Days, under the canopy of the First National Bank Building on Delaware. The first twenty years, our art shows had a featured artist and the works of our artists were judged. For our first two shows we borrowed screens from the Atchison Art Group. We started making our own screens, patterned after the Atchison screens. We would make one or two each year as our shows continued to grow. Originally they were stored in the American Legion and later they were stored in the basement on the alley side of the VFW. They were heavy, bulky and hard to move. That was a big job for all the members.
During the shows, we invited Square Dancers to perform in the afternoon. Also, church groups provided food and drinks during the day. The Buffalo Bill Parade passed by our show on Delaware and several times we had a float or banner in the parade. Later our show moved to the Community Center and the last two years at the Heritage Center. Now our screens have been updated with black fabric and have a permanent home.
When the new Leavenworth Library was built, and the beautiful Carnegie building became available, the City Hall considered a storage facility for the county records. When we heard about this we closed our meeting and about 45 of us marched to City Hall and protested, telling them that it would be a wonderful place for an art center. Finally they were convinced and you see the results of that now.
We started showing our work at the Leavenworth Library and Cushing Hospital. Now there are five or six places where we show our work around the county.