It’s been vacant for several years, but now the old YWCA in Shreveport is being converted into an art museum.
The Rainforest Art Foundation bought the building in September 2013 for $500,000. It will use the facility to showcase the work of Marlene Yu, an internationally acclaimed artist and the founder of the organization. She’s famous for producing massive paintings that demonstrate the beauty and spirit of nature.
"This building in particular is concrete, fire proof, very large with a lot of potential for community use and our exhibitions,” said Stephanie Lusk, the Executive Director.
"This foundation of course has no immediate income so we have to depend on funding and what we can scrape up financially for the capital improvements, that part is difficult,” said James Yu, husband of Marlene Lu and Father of Stephanie Lusk.
James Yu will be the main architect on the project. He’s renovated several buildings in the SoHo neighborhood of Lower Manhattan.
The foundation already has a center in New York City, where the the Yus have lived for several decades. They chose Shreveport for their second location because of their grandson and daughter, Stephanie Lusk, who moved there to be with her husband.
The renovation cost is around $1.5 million. To help generate money for capital improvements, the organization is looking for corporate sponsors to donate cash while naming parts of the building.
The museum will also have other exhibition rooms to showcase the works of other artists, a community rehearsal room, and a place for local non-profits to hold events. The organization would like to utilize the pool by turning it into a rock climbing/white water rowing training facility.
It’s set to open December 21, 2014. The foundation is calling local artists to submit their work for the grand-opening exhibition.
It’s also trying to bring Yu’s work to Shreveport for a seven exhibition tour before the grand-opening. It’s to mark Yu’s 70th exhibition for her 77th birthday in September. In order to make it happen, the Foundation needs $77,777 in pledged donations on its KickStarter campaign by April 18.