2021 has been a year of transition for the Hutchinson Center for the Arts | Local


About 14 people braved arctic winds and plummeting temperatures on January 18 to attend the annual meeting of the Hutchinson Center for the Arts. After a year of ups and downs due to the COVID pandemic, the arts center shared its accomplishments and goals for 2022, and it honored the Wirt Award winners.

Financially, the art center ended the year in the black with net income of $4,087.95, on total income of $130,175.73 and total expenses of $126,087.78. Revenue for the art center comes from a variety of sources, including grants, city funding, donations, memberships, banner sales, gallery sales, facility rentals, programs, and courses.

HCA’s mission is to broaden and deepen artistic experiences for Hutchinson and surrounding communities. It does this by providing arts experiences to the public and serving as an umbrella organization in partnership with local groups including Crow River Youth Orchestra, Crow River Singers, Historic Hutchinson, Hutchinson Parks, Recreation and Community Education, Hutchinson Theater Company, Litchfield Area Male Chorus, Minnesota Pottery Festival, No Lines Improv Troupe and RiverSong Music Festival.

Like businesses around the world, 2021 has been a year of change and transition for the local art hub. Probably the biggest shock was the news that Executive Director Lisa Bergh was leaving her post to take up a teaching position at Ridgewater College.

As a result, the board sought her replacement and hired Molly Rivera to start in early December. Like her predecessor, Rivera is an artist who brings a background in ceramics, teaching and gallery management. With the arrival of Rivera, the art center has stabilized its hours with a new schedule: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Tuesday to Saturday.

Earlier in the year, what started as a response to COVID protocols in 2020 has blossomed into a thriving new program: art kits to go. According to Rivera, these free monthly kits have been extremely popular. The program continues in 2022 and expands by also making the kits available at the Hutchinson Public Library.

Rivera presented Open Studio earlier this month, which meets from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the second Saturday of the month at the art center. Artists and creators are invited to bring their projects and work on them at the art centre. It is an opportunity to meet other artists, to create and to exchange. Admission is free and members of the public of all ages and skill levels are welcome. The next Open Studio will take place on February 12.

The series of exhibitions continued in 2021 with a strong display of the work of nine artists representing a range of disciplines and concepts. With the relaxation of COVID protocols, the art center was able to host in-person talks and artist receptions.

The art center kicks off its 2022 exhibition series with the fifth annual Community Showcase, which opens January 25 and March 4. It features the work of designers and makers aged 18 or older from the southwestern Minnesota area. An open house is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, February 5.

Future art exhibitions include:

  • Greg Wilkins, March 15-April 22
  • Youth Art Exhibition, May 2-27
  • Andrew Cellini/Stephanie Lenerz, June 7-July 29
  • Naomi Schliesman, August 8-Sept. 16
  • Natasha Pestich, Sept. 27-Nov. 4
  • Glenna Olson, Nov. 16-Jan. 6

If you’re looking for a unique gift, you can’t go wrong shopping at the art center gift shop. It has been expanded and now features the work of 25 local artists and 12 wholesalers and artists from across the country. The gift shop is also online, so you can shop from the comfort of your own home. A Featured Artist section has also been added, which for January features Glencoe photographer Mary Mullenberg.

Other art center goals include expanding visibility, increasing art classes and community events, building relationships with community partners, and continuing to reduce expenses and streamline operations.

The highlight of the annual meeting was the presentation of the Wirt Prize. It was created in 2019 to recognize an outstanding local citizen for their commitment to building community through the arts. The prize’s namesake, Tom Wirt, is one of many visionaries who helped found the Hutchinson Center for the Arts. Wirt understood the power of sharing resources and using the arts to build community. The result is a thriving arts center with a range of arts groups helping to entertain and inspire artists and audiences alike.

Jill Springer, Chair of the Board, recognized Corey Stearns as the 2020 recipient of the Wirt Award.

“Corey helped bring the Art Center to where it is now,” Springer told the audience. “He was part of the founding group that had a vision for what the arts could mean in terms of community building and connection. Corey was a key player and played a vital role in building an enduring organization. From building walls to donating materials for youth classes to supporting her own financial support, her fingerprints are everywhere with the center.”

For 2021, the late Greg Jodzio was honored with the Wirt Award. His wife, Betty, accepted the award in his honor.

“Greg has been instrumental in involving friends, co-workers and neighbors in the arts center’s services and programs,” Springer said. “He had a personal commitment to youth arts programming and loved attending the annual Youth Arts Show. Greg was tactful and gracious in approaching existing and potential donors, and many of the current members of our Board of Directors wish they could have him as a mentor in this skill, along with his many other skills.Greg made everyone he knew feel heard and valued because he listened to and valued everyone.

Do you want to know more about the art center? One of the best ways is to visit his redesigned website: hutchinsonarts.org. It provides information on exhibitions, events, courses, purchases and how to support the art center. To learn more, you can also stop by 15 Franklin St. SW during business hours or call 320-587-7278.


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