Community Fine Arts Center | History and Information

History and Information


The Community Fine Arts Center in Rock Springs is a unique collaboration of the City of Rock Springs, Sweetwater County and the local School District # 1. Due to this cooperation, residents and visitors alike can enjoy this "cultural oasis" in southwest Wyoming’s high desert country. The CFAC offers a permanent collection and changing displays of fine art as well as a year round schedule of performing arts programs.

We are a non-profit multi-arts center begun in 1966 by a local science teacher with a great love for art and a vision for his school and community. Its beginning started much earlier -- 1939 -- when the first painting was purchased to hang in the local high school. In the summer months, Mr. Elmer Halseth would travel America to buy paintings, drawings and prints for the students of Rock Springs. He used nickels and dimes gathered from school carnivals, bake sales and donation jars during the school year. The first painting purchased, "Shack Alley" by Henrietta Wood, became the nucleus for the permanent collection that now makes its home in the Community Fine Arts Center. Mr. Halseth became the first director of the Center as well as a State Representative and was a supporter of the arts until his death in 1991.

The Rock Springs High School's permanent collection totals nearly 500 original American paintings, prints, works on paper, and photographs. Much of the collection, once called “one of the best collections of contemporary art in the Rockies" (Time, Nov. 24, 1952), is permanently on display at the center and art gallery. Artists represented in the collection include Norman Rockwell, Grandma Moses, Loren McGiver, Elliott Orr, Edward Chavez, Paul Horiuchi, Ilya Bolotowsky, Raphael Soyer, and Rufino Tamayo. Paintings by well known Wyoming, Western, and local artists are also on display. The collection continues to grow through purchases and donations.

The Community Fine Arts Center features a changing exhibition schedule of local, regional, and national painters, sculptors, printers, photographers, and craft artists. National traveling exhibitions are also on the calendar, offering traditional and non-traditional displays of contemporary art in America.

In addition to its art exhibitions, the center has gained notoriety as a cultural leader in Southwest Wyoming. It provides a way for children and adults to witness and participate in the performing arts, presenting as many as six venues per year. Symphony, ballet, dramatic and children’s theater, jazz, classical, pop and ethnic music and opera are featured in an impressive yearly schedule of events.

The CFAC was instrumental in starting an annual Cowboy Poet and Music Festival held for several years ago in collaboration with the Sweetwater County Events Complex. The Center has proudly hosted such groups as the Utah Symphony, the Arvada Center of the Performing Arts, Diane Witherspoon Jazz Quintet, the David Taylor Dance Theater, the Utah and Jeoffrey Ballets, the Utah Opera and the Basque Ballet of Spain. With each guest’s performance, master workshops for local dancers, singers, musicians, and actors are sponsored by the center, expanding the outreach of the arts to many in the community.

The Community Fine Arts Center serves as a meeting place for cultural and civic groups and offers lectures, demonstrations, and workshops in the visual arts. It celebrates Youth Arts Month each year with displays of artwork from the area schools. A summer "ArtCamp" for ages 10-14 leads students to discover their own creative talents in drawing, painting, sculpture and crafts.

Rock Springs has been home to as many as 56 different nationalities in its history and is a “melting pot” of cultural diversity. Each year the Community Fine Arts Center welcomes more than 6,000 guests. Visitors from all 50 states and many foreign countries have discovered the extensive collection of art on display as well as performances presented by the center.  The CFAC is funded by a unique collaboration of county entities including the County of Sweetwater, the City of Rock Springs, and the School District #1 of Sweetwater County. It is an official part of the Sweetwater County Library System.

Thank you for visiting the Community Fine Arts Center website. We are handicapped accessible and are happy to arrange free individual or group tours. There is no admission charge to the Fine Arts Center.

We are open Monday through Thursday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday, noon to 5:00 p.m.  Closed Sundays and major holidays.


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