The Anderson Arts Center in Kenosha, Wisconsin is housed in a 9,000 square foot estate on the shore of Lake Michigan. The private residence turned art center features over 25 exhibits of local, regional and national artwork each year in addition to arts education programming for youth and adults.
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The French-Renaissance revival style home is surrounded by landscaped gardens and lawns on a 4.7 acre property. The stone and stucco 2-story house contains 30 rooms. Five bedrooms include a master bedroom of over 400 square feet. Some of the more unusual rooms include a gun room, a linen storage room, silver storage room, and flower arranging room. Two bedrooms, a living room and bathroom for servants are located in the west wing of the house. French doors at the back of the galleries open onto a large flagstone patio at the rear of the house, which overlooks Lake Michigan. The home’s interior preserves the craftsmen’s attention to detail in woodworking, with high ceilings and oversized windows.
History: Formerly the residence of the Anderson family, construction on the home began in 1929 and was finished in 1931. James Anderson, the home’s owner, was an executive with American Brass, while his wife Janet Lance Anderson was the grand-daughter of Z. G. Simmons, founder of the Simmons Mattress Company. The French-Renaissance revival house was built by architects Archibald Morphet and Ralph Milman of Chicago. Milman was considered a master of classic French design and one of the forefathers of modern French Art Deco.
The home was donated to Kenosha County in 1977 to become part of the Kemper Center campus. Janet Lance Anderson lived in the home until her death at the age of 96 in 1989. The home officially became part of the Kemper Center campus one year later in 1990. The Anderson Arts Center opened inside the home in 1992. The Anderson Arts Center is a non-profit organization supported through donations, gift shop sales, and rental income via letting the house and gardens for private events.
Ongoing Programs and Education: Summer camp programs are offered each year for children between the ages of 5 and 12, as well as a full range of after-school programming during the school year. Classes include puppet making, cartooning, drawing and painting, crafting and the fiber arts as well as sculpting.
Music education at the arts center includes guitar lessons for beginners of all ages, as well as ballroom dance lessons through Miss Geri’s School of Ballroom Dance. For more experienced practitioners, ballroom dances, featuring a live band, take place periodically on Saturday nights. The dances feature a cash bar and dessert buffet.
Special events include an annual summer Twilight Jazz series. The free outdoor concert series raises funds for the Anderson Center by way of a raffle. The Art of the Car show takes place each August, while October hosts Oktoberfest. The holiday season offers a Snowflake Jazz Concert, Christmas Ballroom Dance, and the Gallery of Trees, during which professionally decorated trees are auctioned off to raise funds for the Center’s youth programming.
Past and Future Exhibits: The Center’s 3-D Gallery hosts exhibits of sculpture. Past shows have included Linda Tump’s ceramics, Pat Kroth’s mixed media fiber installation called ‘Nest’ and the wood carvings of Joe Mrazek.
The Main, East and Upper Galleries are reserved for the work of regional artists. Past exhibits have included a group show by the Women’s Journeys in Fiber artist’s group. The exhibit included quilts, tapestries, and birds constructed of fiber. Shows have been mounted by the League of Milwaukee Artists, the Chicago Society of Artists, the Racine Art Guild, Madison Contemporary Fiber Artists and the Coalition of Photographic Arts among others.
Area Artist Group Galleries host the work of local artists while galleries in the West Wing are reserved for student artwork. The galleries show the work of students in area schools, as well as work completed at the Center’s summer camps and afterschool programs.
Juried shows take place annually. Prospectus may be found on the Anderson Center’s website. There are frequently cash prizes offered for winning works of art.
What’s Nearby: The Anderson Center is located within the Kemper Center campus. The 250,000 square foot campus is home to the Durkee Mansion, an historic house museum, Kid’s Space, a classroom space and artist in residence home, and the Kemper Hall Convention Center, an event venue and office space.
6603 Third Avenue, Kenosha, WI 53143, Phone: 262-653-0481