The Janice Mason Art Museum is approaching its 25th anniversary

Less than a year away from its 25th anniversary, the Janice Mason Art Museum in Cádiz has grown from a backyard idea into a full-fledged bastion of culture and learning.

Not bad for a location that was once the largest post office in the county — and nearly went up for public auction when the federal institution moved to Lakota Drive.

At the Trigg County Chamber of Commerce lunch and learn on Thursday, local historian and JMAM co-founder Paul Fourshee feasted on the facility and its caretakers – 16 board members. administration and overall organization of the Community Art Center of Cadiz.

Fourshee said he still remembers those early moments in 1997, when the idea started to be ruminated. He, Karen Clement and Ann Taylor heard the post office was moving, and they gathered on its back deck on Main Street – and started doodling.

That first meeting sparked a furor of activity and fundraising — a fundraiser, Fourshee said, that raised more than $38,000 along with a Cadiz Rotary auction and a Relays for Life took place in the community.

Trigg County High School graduate Janice Powell Mason came to visit on Mother’s Day 1997. She reached out to Fourshee and others, saying she had been tracking fundraising efforts and the cost of the building.

Around the same time former Cadiz Mayor Jim Ricks and the Cadiz City Council blocked the building from being put up for public auction, Mason noted that she wanted to make a significant contribution.

Fourshee noted that the organization’s umbrella and its proud ownership are simple, yet effective. There is a studio and classrooms in the basement, where student summer courses and occasional painting and drawing classes can take place.

On the ground floor come art exhibitions of all kinds: local, regional, national and international invited and accepted. Fourshee said most events and presentations are planned 18 months in advance, especially if they involve fundraising efforts.

This helped maintain a stable financial footing – which was important during the two-year COVID freeze on public events.

More than a decade ago, the Southern Kentucky Independent Theater partnered with JMAM, and Fourshee said there’s always been a desire to add a physical theater to downtown Cadiz.

JMAM receives $1,500 per year from the State Arts Council and an additional $3,000 per year from the Rotary Club of Cadiz – which Fourshee says helps with programming and other needs.

Foot traffic details are important for state grant applications, and Fourshee added that the Trigg County Middle and High School art exhibits, as well as the annual Christmas Tree Display , usually attract the most attention.

And there is always a push for new members. Fourshee said those who join the $100 tier become cardholders for North America’s Reciprocal Museums — which provides free tickets to more than 1,100 art museums nationwide, allows some discounts in gift shops and gives local members immediate VIP access ahead of time. upcoming events and exhibitions.

They’ve already sold out this year’s “Dinner On Main,” which has resumed after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

Located at 71 Main Street, hours are generally 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. For more information, call (270) 522-9056.

About Carlos V. Mitchell

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