During upgrades, annual Friends of CVA fundraiser hopes to inspire future

Workers replace a section of flat roofing June 7 at the Arts Quad. With studios not being used by students, the Friends of CVA hosts its annual fundraiser at 5:30 p.m. tonight on the Arts Quad to raise money and awareness for needed renovations. Dave Munch/Photo Editor


Friends of Chautauqua Visual Arts are set to host their annual fundraiser for the art program, with a few changes this season.

Seasons past have welcomed the “Stroll through the Arts Gala,” an annual fundraiser that aimed to raise money for students of the School of Art program.

This year, with the School of Art’s curriculum on pause, Friends of CVA are hosting “Party on the Arts Quad” with the goal of raising funds to make much needed improvements to the School of Art’s facilities.

The fundraiser will take place at 5:30 p.m. today on the Arts Quad. Tickets are available for purchase on the Chautauqua Visual Arts website and at the door. There will be tours of the facilities, live and silent auctions, hors d’oeuvres and dancing for those who attend.

The pause in CVA programming comes amid a national search for a new artistic director, and the Institution expects to announce the new hire in the fall. The time is being used to clean out and upgrade the studio space. So far, sections of the roof of the Arts Quad have been repaired and the ceramics studio flooring has been replaced. Steps are also being made to make the facilities more ADA accessible so that Chautauquans and students can access the art studios more easily.

Betsy Vance, president of Friends of Chautauqua Visual Arts, called the Arts Quad building “beloved” and hopes that this event will inspire lovers of the visual arts to come together in celebration of Chautauqua’s visual arts community.

Av Posner, a Friends of CVA board member, hopes that this fundraiser will help to prepare the arts facilities for the incoming artistic director and that Friends of CVA can work with the director to support ample programming and educational opportunities in CVA’s next chapter.

“The main thing is to get it in shape for the next chapter,” said Posner. “A lot of that has to do with what exactly the director would like us to do. We try to have some funds to be able to respond.”

Leslie Zemsky, who has long been involved with CVA, speaks highly of the programming offered by the department.

“I really learned it all at Chautauqua,” she said.

She credited the educational programming through CVA as being a foundational resource in developing her artistry.

“(G)etting that college-level teaching, that level of instruction, to be able to take those from the general public, it was amazing,” she said.

Painter and longtime Chautauquan Beth Munro is a self-described “big supporter” of the visual arts and has taken myriad Special Studies courses over the years.

She said she looks forward to welcoming students back next year with a renovated space in which to work, find inspiration and collaborate.

“I think it’s so important to the overall feel of Chautauqua and the arts to have the visual arts represented with the students,” Munro said. “They add so much to the vitality and the atmosphere. I miss them.”

Lynn LeFauve, a longtime Chautauquan who works in the Strohl Art Center Gallery Store, brings her background as an art teacher to the Special Studies courses she teaches. She primarily works with watercolor painting.

All three artists will have their work auctioned off at tonight’s fundraiser. Proceeds from the auction will benefit the repairs needed to improve the Arts Quad.

“I certainly hope that this fundraiser will bring in the funds that can be used and needed for the betterment of a very historic part of Chautauqua,” LeFauve said.

Vance hopes that in its next chapter, the visual arts program will see “a wonderful symbiotic relationship between the artists that come here and work and the community.” 

She hopes that everyone, whether they are artists using the space or community members looking to learn or enhance a skill will have the opportunity to engage with the programming and use the space.


The author Julia Weber

Julia Weber is a rising junior in Ohio University’s Honors Tutorial College where she is majoring in journalism and minoring in art history. Originally from Athens, Ohio, this is her first summer in Chautauqua and she is thrilled to cover the theater and dance performances. She serves as the features editor for Ohio University’s All-Campus Radio Network, a student-run radio station and media hub, and she is a former intern for Pittsburgh Magazine. Outside of her professional life, Julia has a newly adopted cat, Griffin, and she is an avid fan of live music and a dedicated ceramicist.