CORIANNE EGAN | The Sun
The Yeiser Art Center is, by most accounts, one of the oldest art houses in Paducah. It opened at its current location in 1963, and has occupied the same prominent building on Broadway ever since. It was home to the Paducah Art Guild, and has become integrated into the Paducah cultural landscape.
“With the location and the history behind it, the Yeiser is certainly a key element to the arts here,” Mayor Bill Paxton said. “It’s important, and we recognize that.”
The Yeiser is now currently at an impasse. Its executive director of three years has stepped down and the financial troubles that plague most art houses are no stranger to the YAC. But the leaders in charge of the center are optimistic, and have taken steps to bring the Yeiser back to the forefront of the city’s art houses.
“We are trying to keep up their energy level and create more educational opportunities,” YAC board president Johanna Rhodes said. “Reaching out to the community is part of the Yeiser’s mission, and we take that very seriously.”
Those educational opportunities include a “Say Yes to Art” camp — an endeavor they partnered with the Easter Seals of Western Kentucky for — that provide five days of art workshops for sixth through eighth graders. The YAC also holds classes called “Doodling with Bill” with artist Bill Ford that encourage a younger audience.
The board has also taken initiatives with fundraising. In November, it held a business-member drive that was bolstered by handing out 5-inch-tall plastic yaks. YAC also registered as a participant in the Fred Paxton Fund Run, which gives matching funds to community nonprofits.
The Yeiser also earned a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for its support of Paducah Arts Alliance’s Artist Relocation Program. Some of the Yeiser’s programming, mainly the Fantastic Fibers and Paducah Photo exhibitions, have grown to be internationally known, bringing in art from all over the world.
“It could be easy to outgrow the locals just by using the new technology available,” Rhodes said. “But those people are our lifeblood. On one hand, it’s great to expose locals to that art but it’s also important to remember who our audience is.”
Rhodes said the board has received and is reviewing more than a dozen resumes for the director position. The deadline for submissions is June 15 and the board is sure it will find the high-energy, passionate individual being sought.
“The people who are applying have a great amount of experience,” Rhodes said.
“There are people who have grant-writing experience and museum curating experience. We are really excited.”
Call Corianne Egan, a Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652 or follow @CoriEgan on Twitter.