Friends of CVA

Supporting the Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution

Friends of CVA (formerly VACI Partners) is an all-volunteer membership organization with a mission to promote awareness, education, appreciation and excellence in the visual arts at Chautauqua Institution. Friends of CVA initiatives support the Strohl and Fowler-Kellogg Art Centers, the Melvin Johnson Sculpture Garden, and the Chautauqua School of Art. Friends of CVA encourages an appreciation for all forms of art making, by both professionals and amateurs.

Friends of CVA is managed by a Board of Directors who works closely with Sharon Louden, Sydelle Sonkin and Herb Siegel Artistic Director of the Visual Arts, and Judy Barie, Susan and John Turben Director of Galleries. Our 2021 Board Members are: Jerome Chesley, Elaine Davis, Mimi Gallo, Sally Hootnick, Jamie Jamison, Belinda Rogers, Jeff Schwartz, Joe Stahlman, and Betsy Vance (Advisor).

Over the course of the summer season, Friends of CVA hosts events for its members and for the general public. These have traditionally included art fairs, lectures, exhibition openings, and fundraising activities. Please join us and take advantage of all that Chautauqua has to offer in the area of visual arts.

Friends of CVA Mission

The Friends of the Chautauqua Visual Arts (FCVA) enthusiastically support and promote awareness, education, appreciation and excellence in the Chautauqua Visual Arts (CVA) at Chautauqua Institution (CI) on local, national and international levels. Furthermore, FCVA is committed to providing scholarships to outstanding art students who come to study at the Chautauqua School of Art.

Community Events

Opening Receptions for major exhibitions. View the schedule of exhibitions here.

  • Stroll Through the Arts Auction

    (Note: Due to Covid-19, the details of this event are TBD) Each summer Friends of CVA hosts a ticketed event to raise funds in support of student scholarships. Guests will have the opportunity to bid on original piece of art. All proceeds benefit Chautauqua School of Art Student scholarships.

    Tickets may be purchased in advance using the CVA membership form or at the Strohl Art Center once the season begins.

  • Chautauqua Connections

    Friends of CVA facilitates connections between the Emerging Artists enrolled at the School of Art and Chautauquans who are interested in learning more about the art making process and who are willing to make time to enrich the experience of the Emerging Artists in Chautauqua. This year Friends of CVA will be experimenting with an online community tool rather than making one-on-one pairings. You do not need to be on the grounds for an extended period in order to volunteer for the program. Even if you are on the grounds for just one week you will able and welcome to participate. Please email to be invited to join our online community.

  • Welcome Picnic

    (Note: Due to Covid-19, this event is currently TBD) Friends of CVA will host a picnic dinner for the 2021 Emerging Artists to celebrate the opening of their exhibition in Fowler-Kellogg Art Center. Any Chautauquan who is interested in participating in CVA’s Connections program is welcome to attend. A small fee is charged to non-students to cover the cost of dinner. This is your chance to meet the artists who will be working in the Art Quad during the summer residency.

    Please email to be added to the invitation list. RSVPs will be requested to help us plan this special event.


CVA Memberships are a vital funding source and make our programs possible. We encourage anyone who is interested in learning more about our programs to become members of CVA. We offer various levels of membership.

You will be able to REGISTER ONLINE here by June 27, 2021. PLEASE CHECK BACK THEN TO REGISTER – THANK YOU!

  • General Membership $40

    The benefits of a Basic membership are:

    -Invitation to Members Picnic in the Art Quad 

    -Weekly newsletter during the season / bi-weekly off season

    -10% discount in The Gallery Store year ‘round

    *Couples or Family Rate $65

  • Exhibiting Membership $80

    Benefits of the General Membership and:

    -Opportunity to show 1-2 pieces in the Open Members Exhibition

    -Attending and/or participating in a group critique session for Exhibiting Members only during the summer season at the School of Art

    -Opportunity to have a professional development zoom session during the off season

  • Collectors Membership $175

    Collector Members of CVA show their commitment to the Visual Arts by making a more significant investment in the community. During the Chautauqua season Collectors are invited to special opportunities for deeper engagement.

    Benefits of the General Membership and:

    -Cocktail Party in the CVA Galleries Piazza to meet the School of Art Participants (date TBD)

    -Private docent tour of the Galleries during the season

  • Gold Membership $500-$5000

    Sponsor a School of Art Residency Participant

    Sponsorship of a Resident will include the benefits of all Membership Levels, with any amount over $175 going directly to resident scholarships.

    Suggested Sponsorship Levels:  $5000, $2500, $1000, $500

    -A private dinner will be hosted in Strohl Art Center  (or the Art Quad) for sponsors to meet the 2021 SOA artist that they have sponsored with a scholarship

  • Sustaining Membership

    If you are a previous life member at the Sustainer level please note that on your membership form. New Sustainer level memberships are no longer offered.

  • Events and Opportunities open to Friends of CVA Members Only

    Special Events

    “Behind the Lens” Cocktail hour with Julie Blackmon

    Limit to 15 people Date TBD $100


    Art in The Park

    August 15, 2021…. $75 

    *There will only be one Art in the Park date this summer.

Annual Members Open Exhibition

Artists who are either Basic or Collector CVA Members are welcome to submit a piece of original artwork for the CVA Members Open Exhibition in the Fowler Kellogg Art Center. Each year the diverse mix of styles and media bring in an audience eager to support the artists. We are pleased to announce that in 2021 the theme for the exhibition will be Resilience. The Members exhibition is a hallmark of the Friends of CVA program, and is one the most eagerly anticipated shows during the Chautauqua season. Questions about the theme should be directed to Judy Barie, Susan and John Turben Director of Galleries,

There is an additional fee per artist to enter a piece in the exhibition. Art in the show must be available for sale. Exhibitors receive 50% of the revenue if their piece is sold during the show.

Summary of 2020 Friends of CVA Events

If you are interested in becoming a board member of Friends of CVA let us know! It’s a wonderful way to support artists of all ages. Contact us at

Contact Us

For inquiries, comments and acquisitions, please feel free to contact us anytime. We welcome your input and conversation.
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