We hope you will join us in celebrating 2020 as we anticipate the growth and expansion of the Old Courthouse Arts Center!

This will be our 30th anniversary - and our final year at this long time Woodstock location (more about that later...). This year, we also celebrate the 20th anniversary for two of our shows: the figurative show Real People and the Clayworkers of Illinois Members' Show. In addition we have a great lineup of local artists and art groups throughout the entire year. We'd like to share with you our history and also our plans for the future beyond 2020.

Founded in 1990 by Beverly Ganschow, who, with her husband Cliff, bought and renovated the building to prevent it from being torn down, the art gallery started in the upstairs court room before moving down to it's present location. Over the years Bev added what would become iconic shows, including hosting the Workshop for Contemporary Artists’ Women's Works show in the early 1990s and then adding in 2000 the figurative exhibition Real People. The Northwest Area Arts Council ('NAAC') started working with Bev in the 90’s as well, collaborating on Women's Works and bringing it's Members' Show to the gallery. NAAC eventually took over the center when Bev decided to retire in 2015.

We've worked hard to preserve and build on what Bev started and are proud of our accomplishments, which include hosting and curating over 30 shows a year, the relationship we built with McHenry County College which resulted in their adding the Satellite Gallery, and growing Women's Works and Real People into international shows. We're proud to have been able to showcase solo and group shows by artists and art groups from across northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, and our Consignment Gallery represents over 80 local and regional artists. We've become an important destination for people visiting Woodstock and a reason for their repeat visits - as we like to point out, other than the movie theater, we're the only location in town which almost completely changes every month.

Unfortunately, 2020 is also going to be our final year here. We've known for years that the City of Woodstock was planning a major internal renovation of the Courthouse, which is slated to begin in 2021. Given this, we started us looking at - originally - a temporary home during the renovations. But the more we considered the limits of the current space, such as the lack of studio and classroom space, the split in town between the visual and performing arts in two different buildings and other factors, the more we came to the conclusion that in order to fulfill our mission it might be time to move on. And now that the city has published its plans for after the renovations, the plan calls for turning our two northern galleries into retail space, and replacing our south galleries with an 'arts-focused community center' run by the Woodstock Library. Even if we had been given the option of staying in half the gallery space, with increased rents and half the space, it could not be financially viable.

We are currently working with the City of McHenry's Economic Development group and the McHenry Chamber of Commerce to identify space in the downtown area that hopefully will allow us to have everything we want: space for 20-30 studios; space for an art school; even more gallery space, and a location where we can play a prominent role in helping McHenry become a destination for arts and culture. Both the city and chamber have been incredibly receptive to the idea. They have been welcoming, encouraging and helpful in our efforts to find a new home. It's clear by our reception that they appreciate and value the arts, and that's important to our decision to relocate.

Finally, along with our move, we plan to create more than one art center. While we’re still in the very early stages, we've already identified 2 other towns in this area we'd like to work with in this effort.

For this year, though, to celebrate our 30th (and final) year in Woodstock, we've planned 3 parties, coinciding with the Spring Equinox, Summer Solstice and Fall Equinox. More details to follow! But for now we are looking forward to including you in all the plans for 2020 and in all the plans beyond!


Contact the
Arts Center