The Creation of a Legacy
In 1984, the home was placed on the market once again. Martha Shemer, a long-time Phoenix resident, toured it in July and was so struck by the nostalgia of the home and the picturesque view of Camelback Mountain, that she contacted Mayor Terry Goddard’s office. She asked the mayor’s office if she purchased the property, would the City operate and maintain the facility. After due deliberations the City Council accepted the generous offer and at great expense to herself, with no tax advantages, Martha Shemer made the property available – at no cost – through its donation to the City of Phoenix.
In October 1984 the Shemer Art Center was born. Mrs. Shemer had two dreams: one to preserve a bit of Phoenix history and another to give back; she wanted to provide to the citizens of Phoenix a community center. The Shemer Art Center immediately became an art education facility for the city.
In 1985 the non-profit Shemer Art Center and Museum Association (SACAMA) organization was formed to provide support and input into the operation of the art center. But, in 2010, the Shemer Art Center faced the threat of closing when the City of Phoenix announced it could no longer manage the day-to-day operations. That is when the 501C-3 organization took on the challenge of not only maintaining the art center, but growing it into a viable art center that provides the community with a unique and inviting atmosphere to enjoy and learn about visual art through classes, workshops, lectures, exhibitions and events.
Today the Shemer Art Center is a true “home for the arts.” It is also one of the City of Phoenix’s Points of Pride. In 1992, the Phoenix Pride Commission asked Phoenix residents to name places that make Phoenix unique. Over 10,000 postcards, listing approximately 150 locations, were received during the initial campaign. From the 40 sites receiving the most votes, the first 25 Points of Pride, including the Shemer Art Center, were selected. The Cricket Wireless Pavilion and the Deer Valley Rock Art Center were added in 1996 and 2000 respectively. The Japanese Friendship Garden, Ben Avery Shooting Facility, and the Thomas J. Pappas School were selected in 2004. ASU West Campus, Burton Barr Central Library, and Cutler-Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center are the most recent Points of Pride, selected in 2008.