To encourage the learning, appreciation, and enjoyment of the arts in the community, through the use of art classes, demonstrations, seminars, exhibits, and lectures regarding all types of art.
The Riverside Art Center Story
Riverside Art Center (RAC) was founded to inspire creativity through the arts. Located in beautiful & historic downtown Wapakoneta, Ohio, Riverside Art Center is home to a variety of art classes and exhibits for all ages!
Nestled along a bend in the Great Auglaize River, Wapakoneta is proud of it’s role in Ohio’s history as the 18th & early 19th century Council Seat for the Shawnee Nation. Native American influence is evident in the names of streets, businesses, and government, such as Blackhoof, Auglaize, Pusheta, and Duchouquet. More recently, Wapakoneta has become well known for it’s Air & Space Museum, honoring it’s most famous native son and our country’s first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong.
Wapakoneta has had its fair share of economic downturns with factory closings, small business casualties, and job losses, but it has also seen recent growth with the addition of Wal-Mart, Lowes, and several new restaurants and hotels. However, most of this expansion had been located near the I-75 & US-33 corridor, which is several blocks from the downtown business area. In recent years, downtown business owners formed the Wapakoneta Antique and Specialty Shops and a second organization called the Wapakoneta Downtown Partnership, concentrated on downtown buildings and revitalization. These groups in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce joined forces to think of ways to address the issue of attracting more interest in the downtown. Upon reviewing success stories from other small cities in Ohio, they realized that the arts had played a very important role.
The Chamber contacted a small group of local artists, who began to organize in the fall of 2005 with the assistance of the directors of Arts Place (St. Marys, Ohio and Portland, Indiana). The artists studied different types of art organizations and decided to form a not-for-profit community art group, which became the Riverside Art Center on May 3, 2006. They took a leap of faith in renting an empty building and vowed to stay within the heart of downtown Wapakoneta. Within four years, RAC has grown from six artists to a membership of more than one hundred. Through the hard work and dedication of it’s volunteer board and members, it has gained a reputation for excellence as a premier fine art gallery, an art education center, a gathering place for artists, and a friendly environment for free membership meetings (which include interesting demonstrators). RAC provides a new downtown venue for many types of activities including poetry readings, civic group meetings and tours, nursing home tours, and free children’s arts & crafts (held during city-sponsored festivals).
Riverside is the recipient of many Ohio Arts Council Grants and through that support, it has gained the respect and trust of the community. This is evident in the number of new memberships and a dramatic increase in volunteers, participation in activities, and donations throughout the year.
Through the dedication and hard work of the volunteer board and members, it has gained a reputation for excellence as:
- A premier fine art gallery
- An art education center
- A gathering place for artists on free studio nights – every Monday from 6-9 PM
- A friendly environment for free membership meetings (which include interesting demonstrators)
RAC provides a new downtown venue for many types of activities including:
- Poetry readings
- Improv, civic group meetings and tours
- Childrens arts and crafts
We offer many Adult and Children’s classes for the beginner to the experienced in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Come visit us today!
Lifetime Members and Founders
Jim & Joyce Kent