In early 1994, a citizen approached a member of the Wenatchee Arts Commission, and told them of the community they had just visited, Grand Junction, Colorado, where they had the impression that they ran into art every time they turned around. Wouldn’t it be great, they noted, if Wenatchee could do something similar?
The idea was brought up at the next Arts Commission meeting and local business owner and resident, Adele Wolford, who was then President of the Arts Commission, decided to investigate. She pulled together a small group and talked about the idea. She and Steve Maher, a writer for the Wenatchee World, and organizer of a team of newspaper employees interested in a service project, flew out to Grand Junction during their unveiling festival to investigate.
Adele Wolford and Steve Maher came home excited and ready to go to work. They pulled together a committee, which consisted of local (but nationally known and respected) Wenatchee artist, William F. Reese and his wife, Fran, members of the Wenatchee Arts Commission, the Director of the Wenatchee Downtown Association, and local art patrons.
The first year was an incredible success. Thanks to William and Fran Reese, the representation of artists was exceptional, bringing in artists from across the United States. It set a wonderful precedent for years to come. Since that first installation of 20 borrowed sculptures in June, 1995, the current installation consists of 88 sculptures and 55 pieces have been purchased to become a part of the community’s permanent collection. In 2004 AOTA expanded to include art education and the purposeful inclusion of the community’s youth by introducing the Beauty of Bronze program. Nearly 5700 students have participated in the program since then.
Art on the Avenues is honored to help create a “sense of place” for Wenatchee as a community where art is an inclusive and integral part of our quality of life.