The opening of the Washington Island Center for Creative Arts and Nature Study was July 1, 1965 in the building that had previously served as the Washington Island High School.
In 1964 a small group with a vision saw the vacated building as a home for displays of art and nature. People lent their original art work, crafts and needlework for the exhibit. The community responded with enthusiasm. A commission was formed with Wilson Trueblood serving as Chairman and Patti (O'Connell) Cauldwell was hired as the Director. (pictured below)
The interior rooms were painted white and pegboard structures were constructed for the exhibit. Patti remembers when it was time to hang the paintings the hardware was not available on the island so Wilson Trueblood came to the rescue and took her over to Sister Bay in his boat to get the needed provisions.
Ten artists participated in the first exhibit. In addition were selected works by artist, Katherine Evans , an illustrator of childrens books, best known for her illustrations of the book,”Littlest Angel”. Katherine was a summer resident and had a home in Detroit Harbor.
For the nature room, people brought in treasures: bird nests, fossils and creatures. Art classes were held in the mornings and lectures and travel logs were shared in the evening.
Volunteers sat at the desk, Hours, 1-4, and the admission was 25 cents.
The Artist Ball, a costume event, was the main fundraiser. The community was invited in costume to attend the exhibits at the Center for refreshments and then everyone proceeded to Karly’s for an evening of dancing. Prizes were given and it was a night of fun.
Principals at the ANC Opening (1982), Patti Cauldwell, Lorna Cornell, Caroline Cauldwell, Mary Lee Benson, Harry Fowler, Dorothy Kraft.
The first ten exhibitors were:
Ray Brieisemeister : 5 watercolors, 1 ink drawing.
Steve Eaton : 3 oil paintings and 2 ink drawing
Holland Engle : 2 water colors, 2 framed cartoons.
Edith Flath : 1 oil
Christine Gudmundsen : 3 oil paintings.
Ann Ward Maiken : 2 watercolors
Patti O’Connell : 3 watercolors, 3 ink drawings.
Yngre Olsson, Dan Olsson, Burten Olsson : 3 oil paintings
Tom Schutz : 1 watercolor
Martha Stelter : 2 watercolors