Wyly Art Center is now The Art Base | AspenTimes.com

Wyly Art Center is now The Art Base

The Wyly Community Art Center is changing its name to The Art Base, the Basalt nonprofit announced Tuesday.

"We wanted a name that speaks to our creative vision and serves as an umbrella for our broader mission," said Genna Moe, who was hired as executive director of the Wyly in August.

Founded in 1996 by artist Deb Jones, the organization had been named after Charles Wyly, whose family funded the construction of the arts center at its original location on the campus of what is now the Aspen Community School in Woody Creek. It moved to Basalt in 2004. Wyly died in a car crash on Highway 82 in 2011. His estate has since been ordered to pay more than $100 million to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for fraud violations.

Moe said that the name change is unrelated to the financial troubles of the organization's founding family. A 2015 name change, she said, had been a part of a long-range plan that predates the SEC suit.

The nonprofit is continuing to honor Wyly by naming the main campus exhibition space the Charles J. Wyly Gallery.

"We are extremely grateful for Charles and Dee Wyly and their generous spirit, benevolence and unwavering commitment to the community and the arts," Moe said in a statement.

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The family gave $250,000 for the original building and contributed to operating cost in the following years. Smaller donations have continued up to the present, according to Moe.

As the Art Base, the organization also is lobbying the Town of Basalt to buy the center's current home in Lions Park — the old town library — and sign a long-term lease on the ground underneath it. If The Art Base can purchase and redevelop the building, its plans include hosting an affordable shared studio space for artists, new art healing programs and partnering with the town to develop a multi-use exhibition space that could host community events along with wedding receptions, parties and the nonprofit's established slate of art exhibitions and education programs.

Announcing the new moniker is the first step in a rebranding effort that also will include changing its logo and website and expanding its mission statement, which are still in the works.

atravers@aspentimes.com