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Butler Arts Center gallery director Steve Haley paints a mural in the gallery.

Butler Art Center a great aesthetic in county

An outlet and gathering place for artists and those interested in art has been in existence in Butler County since 1934.

The founding members of the Associated Artists of Butler County first met during the Great Depression, and since then the group has grown to 120 members.

Those members meet at the Butler Art Center on Main Street, which opened in 1991 in the former Furniture Galleries building.

Stephen Haley, gallery director at the center, said the sheer size of the three-story building allows for classes to continue during the coronavirus pandemic because social distancing can be easily achieved.

The first floor houses the center’s huge main gallery, a classroom and the kitchen.

That’s where the center’s four annual art shows are held, and where a variety of classes take place throughout the year.

Haley said he received 506 entrees for the 2020 Holiday Art Show, which he attributes to artists being cooped up in their homes during the pandemic. He normally gets 250 to 300 entrees for the Holiday Show.

Thanks to the size of the first floor, Haley said he still is able to hold a drawing class on Thursday night and a painting class on Friday nights while following social-distancing protocol during the pandemic.

Still, many events had to be canceled because of the virus, including the Pinball Show, art therapy classes and a motorcycle show.

The third floor contains the center’s new frame shop, where those who have created a work of art in a class can buy a frame.

The basement has a stage for musicians and performers once the pandemic abates, and space for wedding receptions, art parties, kids’ birthday parties and other events.

For more information on the Butler Art Center or to become a member, log on to butlerartcenter.org.