The Early Years (1915-1925)


     On September 15, 1915 several artists and their friends gathered together and created a new organization called the San Diego Art Guild. Many of these people were former members of the original San Diego Art Association. This reorganization took place in the Club Room of the Hotel Barstow. Twenty people were present and thirty-one listed as charter members in the Treasurer's Ledger and Cash Book.
     Edna Mae Scofield of the old art association and Art League was considered the spirit of this newly formed organization. She was assisted by Alice Klauber and Charles A. Fries. Other members of the former art association who helped create the Guild were, Ammi Farnham, Leda Klauber, George Marston, Annie Pierce, Albert and Anna Valentien, Mary Belle Williams, and Maurice Braun. Daniel Cleveland was made the first honorary member of the Guild on October 28, 1915.
     The Art Guild's first official meeting took place in the "B" street School on December 16, 1915. Henry Lord Gay, architect, presided over the meeting as the first President, Rebecca Rogers served as Secretary, and Maurice Braun, founder of the San Diego Academy of Fine Arts (1910), as Treasurer. There is a slight discrepancy in this account. Donal Hord, who became the Guild's youngest member at the age of 17 in 1919, said that Ammi Farnham was the first President.

Alice Klauber (This link goes to San Diego’s First Lady of the Arts: Alice Ellen Klauber & Friends by Martin E. Petersen)

     The first article written about the Guild was published in the San Diego Sun, December 24, 1915:

ART WORKERS FORM A GUILD

Organize Here to Promote Social, Civic Improvements.

     "One of the most recent associations to organize in San Diego is the San Diego Art Guild, an association of art workers, organized 'to combine the efforts of members of each distinctive field of the fine arts and allied arts, in a united guild; to forward all interests tending to artistic appreciation in the social and civic refinements and improvements of the city.' The direction and guidance of the policy and progress of the guild is vested exclusively in its active membership, which is composed solely of representatives of their respective professions, as painters, sculptors, architects, and the allied arts….
     The active members hold meetings every two weeks in the B street school building. Open meetings are held quarterly, when associate members form part of the entertainment and reception committee. Exhibitions of the work of these artists are planned for the near future....
     The founding of the San Diego Art Guild is a step forward in the appreciation and growth of aesthetic developments within the environments of the city and it gives promise of becoming one of the most flourishing organizations in Southern California."

     The San Diego Art Guild decided at its regular meeting on Saturday, January 15, 1916 to have a reception and opening exhibition of its members work. Many invitations were sent out. This was the first exhibition of the Guild. It was reviewed in the San Diego Union, Sunday morning, January 23, 1916:

SAN DIEGO GUILD TO CONTINUE ART WORK EXHIBITION

     "The First exhibition of the San Diego Art Guild at the B street school building, which opened on January 15, 1916, will be continued through the present week, no admission being charged.
     The exhibit of San Diego artists has attracted much attention, and the daily attendance at the two periods - from 10 to 4 and from 7 to 9:30 - has been gratifying to those in charge.
     The old school building has been transferred into a credible art gallery, decorated with flowers and draperies and well lighted. Local artists are well represented with a number of large canvases and many smaller ones.
     C. A. Fries has several landscapes showing his skill in depicting charming bits of Southern California scenery with which he keeps close touch…
     Maurice Braun, whose paintings have won him a wider reputation, has contributed three large canvases…
     A. M. Farnham shows 'Shacks', 'The Sea' and 'Evening', the latter reflecting a benign gentleness characteristic of the work of this artist….
     Miss Edna Scofield shows four examples of her art in the field of sculpture. 'May I Come In?' being the most popular, depicting a little fellow peeping through a door.
Mead and Requa and Henry Lord Gay have some examples of architecture work….
     The guild plans to hold meetings quarterly, the next one being scheduled for some time in April."

     Several of the other artists participating in this first Guild exhibition were, Mrs. Mary B. Williams, Miss Rebecca Rogers, Mrs. Allen, Carl F. Hobby, Miss Barstow, Mrs. V. H. Arthurs, Leo Browne, W. H. C. Pierce, A. R. Valentien, Mrs. M. M. Jones, Miss Hazel Howard, and Miss Ruth Townsend.
     The Guild continued to exhibit twice a year and hold its regular meetings as well as art classes and lectures at the B Street School until March 1919. It also held exhibitions of members work in miscellaneous places in and beyond San Diego County.


     In Daniel Cleveland's papers, donated to the Fine Art Society and presently in possession of the SDMA library, is his copy of the original bylaws of the Guild. As these best describe the purpose, structure, and governance of the Guild they are reprinted below:

CONSTITUTION.

ARTICLE FIRST.

Name.
     The corporate name of this organization shall be "The San Diego Art Guild".

ARTICLE SECOND.

Objects.
     1. The San Diego Art Guild is an Association of art workers, organized to combine the efforts of members of each distinctive field of the Fine Arts, and allied Arts, in a united Guild; to forward all interests tending to artistic appreciation, in the social and civic refinements and improvements of the city. To invite moral and physical aid of every citizen who desires aesthetic developments within the environments of the City of San Diego.

Composition.
     2. The Society consists of "Active", "Associate", and "Honorary" members.

Government.
     3. The direction and guidance of the policy and progress of The San Diego Art Guild, is vested exclusively in its active membership, which will elect annually an Executive Committee, for its own members.
     4. Membership in the Active, Associate, or Honorary classes, is elective, and nominations, and elections are made only, by and through the members of the Active class, and known as the Active Chapter, which is comprised solely of representatives of their respective professions, as Painters, Sculptors, Architects, and of the allied arts. Associate and Honorary members are friends of art, and participants in social and educational efforts, in unison with the objects of the Society.

ARTICLE THIRD.

     Any amendments to this Constitution and By-Laws shall require fifteen day's notice to every Active member, and a two-thirds vote of the total membership, either by personal or letter ballot.

BY-LAWS.

     1. The active Chapter shall be composed of two-thirds Painters and Sculptors, and a one-third of the kindred professions.
     2. The Executive Committee shall consist of a Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer.
     3. Annual meeting will be held Thursday of the first week in September.
     The Active Chapter, shall elect annually, chairmen, or full membership to all Standing Committees as follows:

     4. Auditing Committee shall consist of three members. Chairman, to be elected, who will appoint two other members, and report names to the Secretary, who will keep a record of all Memberships of committees.
     5. Credential Committee on membership will consist of five members, all to be elected at the annual meeting.
     6. Committee on Finance shall consist of three members, Chairman to be elected, who will appoint two other members, and report same to Secretary.
     7. Committee on Current Interests and Topics to consist of five members, to be elected at the annual meeting.
     8. Temporary Committees.
There will be a committee on Exhibition to consist of five members or more, to be elected not less than four weeks prior to a given date, who will prepare and direct all arrangements for the special events, report progress at the next regular meeting, and make a final report just after the close of the Exhibition.
     There will be a committee on Entertainment and Reception, to consist of seven or more members, to be elected not less than four days prior to a given date, who will prepare, and preside at such selected event, and will report progress at the next regular meeting, and will make a final report just after the close of such Entertainment and Reception.
Associate members may form part of the Entertainment and Reception Committee.
     9. In the absence of the Chairman, a majority vote of the membership present will elect a temporary chairman to preside at the meeting.
     10. Eleven active members shall constitute a quorum.
     11. The Active Chapter shall hold meetings fortnightly.
     12. Open meetings of The San Diego Art Guild will be held quarterly.
     13. Initiation Fee for incoming members to be $1.00.
     Annual Dues $2.00, payable quarterly, or by option at once.

     "All the Arts are now more than ever, brothers and sisters, and long ago should have been united in one temple of taste, intellect and talent."
V. Verestchagin

Note: Links go to photos on The San Diego History Center werbsite.

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