Molly Bethel, who co-founded and has led the Locust Street Neighborhood Art Classes for the past 52 years, announced late last month that she will retire from her role as the organization's executive director.
Bethel, who has fought to keep the doors of the red brick Locust Street building at the edge of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus open through decades of funding challenges, will hand over the reins to Liz Van Verth.
As a child, Van Verth attended classes at Locust Street. She went on to study art at Syracuse University and earned her graduate degree from the Pratt Institute of Art in New York City.
Bethel will not be leaving the orbit of Locust Street (formerly known as MollyOlga), classifying her decision as a move to "emeritus status." She will continue to teach classes and to serve as the organization's treasurer, along with working to systematize Locust Street's sprawling permanent collection.
"I am not leaving Locust Street," Bethel wrote in a release. "My role will be different."
She continued: "Locust Street Art will continue on in the spirit of our first 52 years, while adding the benefits of Liz's particular areas of expertise. The board, advisory board, and staff join me in looking forward to a long, happy and productive future with Liz Van Verth at the helm."