Sixty years ago, in 1957, the Paducah Art Guild was formed by local artists Bob Evans, Virginia Black, Watson and Mary Yeiser. Western Kentucky had a dearth of art and the group put on exhibitions, gave talks and hosted weekend workshops. They brought art to the community and encouraged local residents to produce art of their own.
After changing its bylaws in 1979 to allow business leaders and professionals to join the board, the Guild hired its first executive director, Michael Watts. It changed its name to the Yeiser Art Center in 1990.
Fast forward to 2018 and The Yeiser Art Center (YAC) is now a non-profit corporation with 501(c)(3) status. YAC has a permanent exhibition space that hosts seven shows annually and a permanent collection of over 300 works. The center offers visual art based programming including educational classes for both children and adults, public gallery talks and artist lectures.
YAC have grown to employ a full-time executive director, Stacey Reason, as well as a full time administrative assistant. YAC has a supporting membership program as well as many loyal and terrific volunteers. Beginning this year, 2018 it has taken a leading role in organizing the Lower Town Arts & Music Festival.
On January 20, Yeiser Art Center celebrates “60 Years of YAC” with a back tie and tennis shoes event. Join members of the board and help them celebrate in the U.S. Bank lobby, located at 333 Broadway in downtown Paducah.
The "60 Years of YAC" celebration calls for attire of "black tie and tennis shoes" and is open to anyone who purchases a pair of tickets for $60. A light meal and beverages will be provided. Works from the YAC permanent collection will be on display, as will the paintings by founding member Watson Yeiser.
The first 100 ticket holders to the celebration will receive an original, limited-edition print of Jerry Watson's "Market House" woodblock, pulled by Lower Town artist Michael Crouse.
Tickets to "60 Years of YAC" can be purchased at the Yeiser Art Center, 200 Broadway, or by calling 270.442.2453. They can also be purchased at the door on January 20.
Mr. Watson graduated from Paducah Tilghman High School in 1954 and attended Paducah Community College. He worked at Midwest Dairy until 1977 and then Paducah’s Gaseous Diffusion Plant as a senior technical illustrator until his retirement in 1998.
With his avocation as an artist, his paintings, watercolors, and drawings we extensively exhibited in the mid-state region. For 12 years, he taught painting and drawing classes in the Continuing Education Program at Paducah Community College.
He was a member of the Paducah Arts Guild (Yeiser Art Center) since 1964 and held various positions on the board in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. He was also a member of the Paducah Area Painters Alliance and the “Paducah Wastelanders” artist group.