Downtown art gallery reveals remodeled spaces

By:  Laura Schulte at the Wausau Daily Herald

Art lovers will once again be able to browse works in galleries and take classes in remodeled spaces at downtown's Center for the Visual Arts following a renovation that took nearly two years.

The renovation, which started in November 2015, cost $1.1 million of the $2.4 million that has been raised by the capital campaign, said Bill Tehan, the president of the Grand Theater Foundation. Local foundations, corporations and private donors contributed to the campaign to ensure the life of ArtsBlock.

Volunteers took a USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin reporter on a recent tour of the facility during a reception organized to thank those who donated to improve and maintain ArtsBlock, the block of buildings in downtown Wausau that comprises the Grand Theater, the Great Hall and the CVA.

The CVA is a nonprofit organization that aims to engage Wausau area residents with the arts, both through displays of local art and classes taught throughout the year. The CVA rents its space in ArtsBlock.

During the reception, Tehan said the building had been restored to its original glory, highlighting features that had been hidden during earlier renovations. One of those hidden gems is an old safe door, which was found behind shelving units in a storage closet. The door has now been re-hung and can be seen in the Vault Gallery. The building was built in the early 1900s to be used as a bank.

The top floor of the building will house painting and drawing classes, and the Skylight Gallery, a brand new gallery, will allow students and instructors to display the art they create within the building. The gallery was named for the skylights found during renovations, which had been covered with drop ceilings. Also revealed were large northern and western facing windows, to aid in the lighting of the gallery and classroom.

In the basement of the building, the Pottery Studio will keep messes manageable during pottery classes. The studio is home to several new pottery wheels, a new ventilation system and other features to help keep classes running smoothly.

Rose DeHutt, the executive director of the CVA, looks forward to unveiling the renovations to the public in the coming months. The CVA hopes to have its doors open for art lovers by the end of February or beginning of March.

DeHutt said that the building hopes to be open by March 11 for a kids event.

Despite the update, the CVA's gift shop will still continue to operate in the Washington Square building downtown, because of its success during renovations.

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