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. The Partners 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.

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

Community Events

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

  • Stroll Through the Arts Auction and Gala

    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

    At 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 1, Friends of CVA will host a picnic dinner for the 2020 Emerging Artists to celebrate the opening of their exhibition in Fowler-Kellogg Hall. Any Chautauquan who is interested in participating in VACI’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 the next seven weeks.

    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 two levels of membership.

  • Basic Membership | $35 individual

    The benefits of a Basic membership are:

    • Subscription to the weekly Friends of CVA online newsletter.
    • 10% discount in the Gallery store everyday throughout the summer.
    • Opportunity to participate in the annual CVA Open Member Exhibition.
    • Invitations to attend weekly gallery talks and art lectures given by faculty of the School of Art and noteworthy visiting artists.
  • Collectors Membership | $125, for up to two people

    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.

  • 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.

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 a audience eager to support the artists. We are pleased to announce that in 2020 the theme for the exhibition will be Places We Have Never Been. 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 of $25 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

  • Opening of Student Art Exhibition
  • Chautauqua Connections Picnic
  • Art in the Park
  • Stroll Through the Arts Auction and Gala
  • CVA Members Exhibition

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

VACI Partners Board Members

  • Jean Fulkerson, President
  • Lydia Strohl, Vice President
  • Emily Spahr, Secretary
  • Kristie Steitz, Treasurer
  • Courtney Byrne
  • Cathy Clark
  • Sarah Dana
  • Linda Kardos
  • Katherine Menz
  • Barry Perlis
  • Belinda Rogers
  • Laura Saulson
  • Emily Spahr
  • Barbara Turbessi

Contact Us

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