BY Geri Gibbons, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
WILKES-BARRE – The Wyoming Valley Art League has served as an asset to the community for more than 60 years, providing benefits that go far beyond simply the appreciation of fine arts hanging on its wall, but also in community outreach, performance art and the written word.
The organization was started in 1954 by a group of women committed to bringing culture to the Wyoming Valley.
Although appreciation for art and commitment to the community has been a constant within the organization, much has also changed, with the league finding a permanent home on South Franklin Street in 2011.
The building that the organization now owns, was previously owned by the Luzerne County Medical Society, with a circular room reflecting the structure’s name, Circle Centre for the Arts.
The center recently opened its spring juried art show, which will run until June 13. With more than 80 entries in each of five categories, the show brings beauty and color to both floors of the building.
The show will run at the same time as the Fine Arts Fiesta, providing a chance for art lovers to take a few minute walk to enjoy the art league’s offerings.
The Art League will also have a tent set up at the Fiesta to show off their members’ artwork and to reach out to the community.
Robert Husty, the organization’s coordinator, said the art league partners with other community organization, including the Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce, Wilkes University and the Sordoni Art Gallery to bring the arts to Wilkes-Barre and surrounding area.
The organization’s round striking building, with a South Franklin Street address, can be seen and accessed from South Main Street, putting it close to the city’s “restaurant row,” and within easy walking distance from downtown, making it part of what is known as the city’s “Art Block.”
This spot has made the Art League a natural for the city’s “Third Friday Art Walk,” which begins in April and runs through early fall.
The Art League also offers a monthly Sunday at the Circle, with different types of art, including performing art, for those attending.
The league’s Don Armstrong said during an age where schools are dropping art, drama and music programs, the organization is increasingly important in providing cultural opportunities to residents.
Armstrong said the league has hosted elementary and high school students at the center to help them gain appreciation of art in an interactive environment.
Students were able to look at art and then take time to write about. An activity that went over exceedingly well.
“We were able to bring art into word,” said Patricia Lacy, a member who assisted with the program.
The Art League also seeks to go out into the community, loaning art to local businesses to be enjoyed a perhaps purchased.
Recently the organization worked with the Linde Corporation, hanging art on the business’ walls. The Art League is also reaching out to other businesses and is hoping to also partner with them, bringing art to the workplace.
The organization also many performances and classes for both members and the community, offering an art class at Ruth’s Place about twice monthly.
Armstrong said the Wyoming Valley provides a wonderful opportunity for its residents to purchase beautiful art at a reasonable cost with many artists featured by the league well-known in the art world nationally.
Springtime, Armstrong said, has always been a time for a mini-renaissance of art, with the Art Walk and Fine Arts Fiesta bringing residents, artists and non-artists alike, to the center city to appreciate and learn about art.
For more information about the Wyoming Art League access their website at http://wyomingvalleyartleague.org/.