The Beaux Arts Fund Committee, Inc., was incorporated November 2, 1953 as a fund-raising support group for the Davenport Museum of Art. There were 22 people listed as incorporators, most well-known of which was the Davenport sculptor Isabel Bloom.
The Committee organized Beaux Arts Balls as their fund-raiser for many years. Each event had an original theme that guided the creative costumes that patrons wore. In 1967, Ed Voss, who had chaired most of the balls, suggested we stage a weekend art fair similar to the ones he and J.P. Whitaker had attended in Chicago.
Initial reactions were mixed. One artist sent back his entry form with the notation "$10.00 for this?" (Entry fee is now well over $100.) But 40 or 50 artists did exhibit at that first fair, held on the walks around and in back of the Museum of Art, and the public responded well.
Fair attendance and artist participation grew year by year, and to celebrate the opening of the Weis addition (on west side) a craft fair was held in addition to the regular fair. The exhibitors set up on the parking lot in front. As the fairs grew, they were moved to the green in back of the Museum, adjacent to Wilkes Avenue.
Two fairs were produced each year and attracted a loyal following, both among artists and patrons. In 2001 the shows were moved downtown near the location of the future Figge Arts Center, which opened in 2005. Currently, around 200 artists exhibit in the spring fair and 100 in the fall event.
All proceeds from both Beaux Arts Fairs go to the Figge Art Museum for programs and exhibitions.
As of Fall 2011, proceeds have totaled $600,000
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