L to R: RAC Board President Jeremy Black, Dan Streeting, Amador Valenzuela, Paul D'Amato, Executive Director Liz Chilsen, Dr. Jay Van Cura, Jay Wolke, Laura Husar Garcia. | Provided

The Riverside Arts Center is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, after three decades of acting as a community space to create and appreciate art. 

Established in 1993 by Ruth and Bob Freeark, the Arts Center offers art classes, hosts exhibitions and holds public events for Riverside and the surrounding neighborhoods. Executive Director Liz Chilsen said the Center serves all communities within the Riverside Township, including Lyons and Brookfield.

The newspaper clipping is from the original mural painting in 1994, which they re-did last year. | Provided

“We have different communities that nest within each other and each of them engages in their own way,” Chilsen said. “It’s kind of an expanding sense of community.”

Chilsen said the Arts Center has evolved over the years depending on the expertise of individuals most involved. For example, a previous member specialized in ceramics, so he worked to further develop the ceramic program. 

The exhibitions have been the most consistent and ongoing programs, according to Chilsen. The Arts Center plans to host an anniversary exhibition in which 30 artists from the past 30 years come back to showcase their work again. 

“Many people have gone on to have significant careers as artists after having exhibited at the Arts Center,” Chilsen said. “We try to bring artists’ work into the community so that people experience RAC as a place to learn about the arts.”

2019 RAC Members Exhibition, Artworks Left to right by Ruth Freeark (founding member), Judith Mullen, Anne Harris | Provided

The Arts Center is also sending out a survey to gauge what it is doing well and what it can improve. Chilsen said she wants to ensure that resources are being distributed to the community in the best way possible. 

“It’s the ideas of the community that are important,” Chilsen said. “The board members and volunteers are very important. The staff, and people who come to the Arts Center to make art, look at art or meet artists. All of those voices come together and make the art center what it is.”