Evanston Art Center announces programming changes at new location


Rachel Yang/The Daily Northwestern

Visitors at the Evanston Art Center’s open house view artwork by faculty and students. The center hosted the open house Sunday to announce expanded arts programming at its new location.

Rachel Yang, Reporter

The Evanston Art Center announced Sunday changes in programming, including a new digital lab, that will occur when it relocates to its new space on Central Street at the end of May.

The open house, which took place at the Harley Clarke Mansion, the art center’s current location, included tours of the building and demonstrations by faculty and students from the center, who showcased work that ranged from painting to jewelry-making.

Keith Brown, the art center’s director of education, said the open house served as a way to let the public know about the expanded programming that will be offered at the center’s new location, 1717 Central St. Even though it will continue to provide youth programs and its core art classes, the center will offer new workshops, Brown said.

New classes will include lessons in a variety of areas, including robotics, culinary arts and even ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement, said Paula Danoff, the art center’s interim executive director. Danoff also said she is currently in talks with former food editors from the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times to discuss further plans with the culinary arts programming.

Besides offering new classes, Brown said the center also plans to redo its digital area in the new space, and will have a new digital lab, as well as 3-D printing and silk screen printing. Brown also said the center will be debuting a new logo and website at the end of the month.

The new art center has a gallery space that is three times bigger than that of the current location’s, Danoff said.

Brown said he is excited for the center’s future, as it will have much more space to showcase art and continue the center’s mission to support and encourage local artists. He also said he believes the increased visibility of the new space can better serve artists.

“Our artists really need … to show at a place that has a lot of people coming through,” Brown said. “I think that new space will see … increased traffic, and that’s desirable and that’s helpful to an artist.”

Sandra Peterson, an instructor and former student at the art center, said although she will miss her current studio, she is looking forward to moving to a new location.

“It would be an adjustment … but for a school to grow, we needed more space,” Peterson said.

The Harley Clarke Mansion still has an uncertain future. Cindy Plante, the city’s economic development specialist, said she has seen various suggestions, from turning the building into a hotel to housing museums in it, but nothing has been decided. Plante, however, said the Harley Clarke Citizens’ Committee, which has been evaluating different options for the mansion’s future, will report back to City Council in early June. Council will decide the property’s fate.

Mary Rosinski, who works in Evanston, said she hopes the mansion will continue to serve residents through a partnership with a local organization like the Evanston Ecology Center, the Chandler-Newberger Community Center or the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian.

“There’s a lot of public use that could happen,” Rosinski said. “I just want people out in the public to know what a great building this is.”

Danoff said she is optimistic about the changes for the new art center, which has been in the same location for about 50 years.

“It’s a whole new chapter,” Danoff said. “People on Central Street, all the merchants and even people living the area have been very receptive to us being there, so it’s very welcoming. It’s kind of a win-win for everybody.”

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