Door County Art Scene: Fairfield Art Center Launches Annual Fund Drive

Main Gallery during 2008 exhibition “The Grapes of Wrath: A Visual Story,” held in conjunction with the National Endowment for the Arts’ Big Read program in Door County.

The Fairfield Art Center in historic downtown Sturgeon Bay has announced the launch of its Annual Fund Drive, which will run through the month of December. With the end of the year rapidly approaching, the not-for-profit art center is asking its members, friends and the Door County community for their support prior to December 31. All donations are tax-deductible.

“Whether it’s $25, $50 or $100, this is an opportunity for people to show that they value the arts and their importance to the community, even in the tough financial times we’re now experiencing,” said Walt Freckmann, the Fairfield’s executive director.

Freckmann commented that community support for the art center’s Annual Fund Drive is absolutely essential. Unlike many museums and art centers, the Fairfield does not have an endowment, so “Every dollar we receive enables us to continue in our mission.”

The Fairfield, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in November, achieved several milestones in 2008. To start, the art center hosted “The Grapes of Wrath: A Visual Story,” a special exhibition in conjunction with the National Endowment for the Arts’ Big Read program, in January and February. The county-wide program was a resounding success, and with The Big Read returning this January, the Fairfield will open “The Big Read: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” on January 22, host a Tom Sawyer Children’s Day on January 24 and facilitate two book discussion groups in early February.

Next, the Fairfield Foundation sold the landmark 1906 building in which it makes its home to John Blahnik, whose Raymond James Financial Services office has been located in the building since 2002. The Fairfield Building sale enabled the art center to retire its mortgage debt, add cash to its balance sheet and focus on its primary mission.

New Henry Moore Gallery in the former b2 Gallery space. The b1 Studio next door was refurbished and has become the b2’s successor, the 242 Gallery.

Then, this past summer, the Fairfield staff converted its lower-level b2 Gallery into the Henry Moore Gallery, a display space dedicated to the art center’s internationally recognized permanent collection. The current exhibition, titled “The Approachable Henry Moore,” showcases the 20th century modern master’s graphic works and maquettes.

The Fairfield then refurbished the lower-level b1 Studio – often remembered as the Cafe 242 space – to create the 242 Gallery, an exhibition space and art laboratory for Door County’s emerging and established artists who may not have such resources of their own.

“With our three galleries, we can deliver a large number of contemporary and modern art exhibitions, unique social events and dedicated educational programs for a community this size,” Freckmann observed.

According to Freckmann, the year to come is no less exciting. In addition to The Big Read exhibit, 2009 exhibits include: “C.T. Whitehouse: Sculpture in the Garden,” “Pamela Murphy: Echoes of the Past,” “Belling, Davidson, Hagen & Slagel: A 40-Year Door County Retrospective,” and the Holiday Gala & Silent Auction exhibition and fundraiser. The schedule also incorporates 10 exhibitions in the 242 Gallery, and the regular exhibition of works from the permanent collection in the Henry Moore Gallery.

Thanks to a generous donation from GLYS, the Fairfield Art Center continues to be open free to the public. Winter hours are 10 am – 5 pm, Tuesday through Friday; and 10 am – 4 pm Saturday. The Fairfield is closed Sundays, Mondays and all major holidays.

For more information call 920.746.0001, email [email protected] or visit