Cherry Valley Artworks - A Brief History

By William G. Isaac, co-founder

At a Christmas party in 2003, several of us who were involved in the arts first discussed the idea of forming a Cherry Valley arts council. The first meeting to assess interest in this idea was held at the house of Pam Livingston, a local artist and writer, in January 2004. Subsequent meetings were held at Patty and Troy Engel’s old feed mill, which had ample space for the 20 or more people attending. These early meetings were to discuss what type of organization we wanted, what its mission should be, and what to name it.

I drafted proposed by-laws, and Dennis Laughlin, a local attorney, initiated the legal process with New York State and the Internal Revenue Service to obtain our 501©(3) status as a tax-exempt, not-for-profit, community-based organization. I served as interim president until we elected regular officers.

Our first major event was “A Day in Cherry Valley,” a photography contest open to the entire community, in July 2004. Six hundred disposable cameras were given out to anyone who requested one, and each person was asked to photograph whatever they found interesting during a 24-hour period on a designated day. Winning photos were selected and exhibited. None of the participants were professional photographers; they ranged in age and represented various types of people in the community.

Jane Sapinsky coordinated the “Day in Cherry Valley” event, and soon thereafter was elected the first president of Artworks. She later became the Executive Director when this was established as a paid position.

In the years to follow, Artworks sponsored a sculpture trail, painting and drawing classes, the annual Christmas play, and what has now become the biennial Cherry Valley International Kite Festival.

In 2009 Artworks had the opportunity to lease the theater in the old village hall from the Village of Cherry Valley and has now assumed responsibility for renovation and operation of the theater. The theater will be used for films, concerts, plays and other events. Eventually, other spaces in the building will serve as exhibit and classroom space for local artists and youth. This promises to be an exciting new enterprise for this organization, which has continued to grow and prosper. Click here to see photos of the Village Hall and learn more about the building.