The Lenawee Council for the Visual Arts (LCVA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and supporting the visual arts in Lenawee County. Organized by a group of passionate local artists in 1998, the LCVA's first efforts were exhibitions of local artists in community locations. In 2000 the Millennium Project, consisting of 200 bronze panels done by 60 Lenawee artists was installed in Comstock Park in downtown Adrian. Seven or eight exhibits are presented each year by the LCVA and include the county-wide High School exhibition, now the Side By Side mentorship exhibition. The LCVA has been a vital cog in the development of the downtown Adrian Artalicious art fair that began in 2006. In 2010 an exciting collaboration with the Croswell Opera House moved the LCVA gallery into the heart of the Croswell where hundreds of patrons enjoy both the visual and performing arts.
In collaboration with the City of Adrian, co-founders Pi Benio, Luke Barnett, Kris Cravens, Jill Shaffer, Sue Matych-Hager, Kristine Willimann and the LCVA Board which included President Shirley VanBenschoten, Connie McComb-Brown, secretary, Mike Jacobitz, treasurer and at large member Mary Kelly, established the Adrian Center for the Arts on an abandoned 55-acre former state property in 2015. The Art Center provides opportunities for established artists by making studios space available, for students of all ages wishing to learn about ceramics, glass blowing, kiln glass, letterpress, painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, and photography and for the public to be revitalized and empowered by the arts. The Sam Beauford Woodworking Institute has become its own non-profit entity under the direction of Luke Barnett, Dena Koehn and its own board of directors. The LCVA values high quality, broad based community collaborations with past programming with Adrian Symphony Orchestra, Boys and Girls Club, Civitan, the HOPE Recreation Center, Noon Rotary, the Catherine Cobb Domestic Violence Shelter, Kiwanis, and area businesses not only on our grounds, but also at venues throughout the county at Hidden Lake Gardens, downtown Tecumseh, and the Michigan Welcome Center in Dundee and outside the county in Ann Arbor and Jackson.
A Vision: Sculpting an Arts Community
The Adrian Center for the Arts has evolved in many ways since its founding in 2015 on what was the Adrian Training School and Michigan State Police Post property. The land and empty buildings had been given to the city by the state, and the city was happy to partner with the LCVA and a group of enthusiastic visual artists who wanted to bring life to the old campus.
With the purchase of the property by PlaneWave Instruments in 2018, the Adrian Center of the Arts wondered where its future was. But PlaneWave was pleased to invite the ACA to continue to operate its studios in six of the property’s buildings. The company was excited to bring the arts and sciences together on one campus and entered into a long-term lease with the ACA
The ACA is now concentrating on growing its residential artist programs, classes for all ages and community activities. The ACA has at its center a new gallery and is hoping to increase public traffic to enjoy the exhibits and purchase art created by resident and member artists. Dreams for expanded activities include partnerships with community organizations that can benefit from authentic art, classes and campus experiences. The campus, with beautiful landscaping, some trees over two centuries old, lends itself to “plein air” artist experiences that allow artists to paint in the midst of nature.
Resident and member artists strive to create a special community and hold inner organization exhibits and collaborative creations to explore other art forms and get to know one another better. It is a true artist community that welcomes all. The ACA and the Croswell Opera House and Adrian Symphony Orchestra as arts anchors in the Lenawee community. It is a stakeholder in the revitalization of Adrian, and is determined to dream a future where residents and travelers will feel at home and enjoy time on a campus full of history with a taste of how the visual arts may evolve into the future.