This was an era of recovery
for the Guild from the trauma of the divisive bylaw revisions of
1966. However, despite the best efforts and intentions of the artists
and museum alike, the Guild, which lost dozens of members, never
regained the stature it once had and began a slow decline.
1967 was the year the University
of California San Diego opened their Visual Art Department. Many
Guild members were associated with and taught at the La Jolla Art
Center (Note: In 1971 the name was changed to the La Jolla Museum
of Contemporary Art). When UCSD opened their new art department
they felt that they had the inside track on getting the new jobs
teaching at that institution. These artists, among them, Richard
Allen Morris, Sheldon Kirby, and Fred Holle were mistaken. All of
the teaching positions went to "name" artists from outside
of the San Diego area, notably New York.
Once insulated within the
university most of these new arrivals separated themselves from
the local artists, none of them ever joined the Guild, and for the
most part, created their own avant garde art community. Interestingly,
it was worked into their contract that they would receive raises
based on exhibitions they had locally. San Diego supported them
by offering numerous opportunities and exhibitions all over the
Over the years despite a warm
welcome from the Guild artists, including having many of the new
arrivals jury Guild shows, the new group, "those guys on the
hill", created their own dynamic. The La Jolla Museum began
collecting and featuring their work. They won over the admiration
of the local news media and later were among the "elite"
exhibitors at the San Diego Museum of Art.
This split in the local art
scene was very demoralizing to Guild members and helped further
alienate them from the rest of the art community. (Note: The attitudes
that many Guild members had held for what they considered "unqualified"
artists, among their own membership, artists they rejected, and
members of Spanish Village and the Art Institute were the same attitudes
that the new professors had for them. "The chickens had come
home to roost.")
During the late 1960's both
Warren Beach, Director and Ronald Hickman, Executive Curator attended
all Guild Board meetings. Their presence showed that the Gallery
still valued the Guild as an integral part of its functioning.
Here is an article written by Naomi Baker for the Evening Tribune
on March 24, 1967:
Graphics Arts Display is Lively
San Diego Art Guild Sponsors Gallery Show
"In a big competitive
all-media exhibition, graphic art too often is a stepchild. Paintings
predominate. Sculptures get scanty representation, too. Some jurors
seem to ignore both categories, as they do crafts.
Graphic art is the No.1 boy
in the San Diego Art Guild's current exhibition through April 23
in the San Diego fine Arts Gallery. And a lively, likable lad he
It's an all graphic show.
Cheers! Its quality is enhanced by the addition of five works each
by 10 invited artists, who live out of this area. This section of
the show is remarkable. Every one of the 10 has some memorable exhibits
Juror Comments About Open Shows
Now I interject some comments
by the shows juror, Dr. Thomas Leavitt, director, Santa Barbara
Museum of Art, who spoke Friday after the preview-reception in the
He said large juried exhibitions are on their way out, and that
'they tend to become less meaningful.'
Questioned later, he explained
that larger museums across the country are eliminating big annual
shows because judging is so subjective, and no one seems satisfied
Unknown Artist Wouldn't Have Chance
But there is another side
to be considered. The invited artists more likely would be those
who have proved their merit elsewhere, and the selection would be
subjective. The unknown artist would not have the chance he now
has to gain a toehold of recognition by even a single accepted exhibit.
Many students are producing
good work. There is quite a bit in this show. And few museum directors
or committee members would know about such promising artists, or
about the more mature artists who are working quietly in their studios.
It's good that Leavitt winnowed
out 65 exhibits from the 358 submitted from the city and county.
Some previous guild shows have been unwieldy because of juror's
Recorded in the minutes of
May 17, 1967 was mentioned that these shows were unacceptable as
prerequisites for Guild membership, the Del Mar Fair, The San Dieguito
Art Guild and St. Mark's Lenten Art Festival.
In those same minutes, Martha
Alf, recording secretary wrote:
"Mr. Saunders felt that
Guild morale was low because the Guild has not done anything for
its members. He proposed a dinner for Guild members with the bill
paid by the Guild treasury
Mr. Turk and Miss Kelley brought
up the fact that most galleries have given up the sponsorship of
an Art Guild as it involves too many headaches for the staff. Yet,
as Mr. Saunders mentioned, this fact of being part of the outstanding
art facility in this city is the prime reason why artists join the
Guild. The meeting adjourned with its main problem still unsolved;
How to attract new and desirable members
Everett Gee Jackson held a
one-man show in the Fine Arts gallery from May 12, 1967 - June 11,
Naomi Baker wrote about this
show in the Evening Tribune on May 30, 1967:
"Everett Gee Jackson's painting exhibition in the San Diego
Fine Arts Gallery is the best one-man show there in years. I hope
its high quality sets a precedent for the gallery in choosing future
At the Guild Board meeting
on June 16, 1967, Warren Beach discussed the changes of once having
three Guild shows, now two and those open to non-Guild members for
a fee. He favored returning to one regional show and one Guild member
only show. Also discussed were the acceptable shows which included
all shows in the Fine Arts Gallery, the Jewish Community Center,
The La Jolla Museum of Art, Orr's Gallery, and non-student shows
at local colleges and universities.
As recorded in the minutes
of the Board meeting on July 26, 1967:
"William Bowne said that
there are three attitudes that the Guild should guard against:
1. The snobbish attitude.
2. The questionable attitude--that there is something questionable
about having an all membership show, as if we had no right to do
3. The provincial attitude--that we should be the final judge. Why
not use national shows?"
In September of 1967 a portrait
bust of Reginald Poland, by Anna Coleman Ladd was donated to the
Fine Arts Society by a group of his friends. It was unveiled at
a reception on October 5, 1967. (See Chapter III, p.33.)
Discussion of an ongoing dispute
as to what shows were to be considered as professional enough for
the Guild continued during the Board meeting on October 18, 1967.
The Watercolor Society Show in Spanish Village was still considered
as amateurish as was the Mission Valley Show.
In the Evening Tribune on
April 9, 1968, Naomi Baker wrote:
Chairman Plans For Guild Shows In Foreign Lands
"Asked for some of her
goals for the San Diego Art Guild, Kay Whitcomb, its newly elected
chairman, said she hopes to build the guild into a strong organization
that will attract a greater membership of artists and to give them
increased recognition nationally and internationally through group
If her present plans materialize,
she said the guild will have an invitational show in Athens and
it might later go to Beirut, Istanbul and Ankara.
'These juried group shows
would be limited to Art Guild members invited to submit their best
work. By exhibiting nationally and internationally they would gain
the necessary prestige to be paid comparably for their work.'
She said that already she
has contracts for obtaining places for invitational shows.
Guild Goals Are Outlined
Her other goals: 'I would
like to have two juried exhibitions yearly in the San Diego Fine
Arts Gallery and have them sponsored and financed by the guild;
also to make guild group freight possible for entries to regional
exhibitions; to have international figures in the art field as guest
speakers at the guild's quarterly meetings, to make recommendations
for the Archives of California Art, and to recommend jurors for
annual art exhibitions at the California Exposition in Sacramento.
Another of my aims is to continue the guild-sponsored life drawing
Mrs. Whitcomb, an enamellist
and painter has participated in many invitational shows in the United
states, has won numerous awards and has worked and exhibited in
She was elected guild chairman
at the annual meeting Friday evening."
Kay Whitcomb wrote to me on
October 23, 2003 and summarized the events of 1965 - '66 and their
We had to raise
funds for our exhibition expenses
I know of no Art Guild which
is a committee of an Art Museum in the USA. The curator (Rudy Turk),
advisor to the Art Guild, promoted the skullduggery of 1965, and
the Board members resented having to raise these funds, for it means
getting caught in menial tasks which are not creative, and donated
time to a lot of uncreative work! So they rewrote the by-laws, giving
it to a board of two helpers to the Chairman, and a 4th was on the
board to the Fine Arts Society. It made the artists prove his creativeness
every 3 years thru juried, acceptable exhibitions, regionally or
nationally. It would have removed many of its members by 1968. But
this Art Guild had a Guardian Angel, the Art Editor of
the San Diego Tribune, Naomi Baker, and she called me non-stop
to take a stand! The Art Guild had a membership of 200 that was
angry, but no one stepped up to the plate to rescue it
had three years to straighten out the Guild's problems. For two
years they treaded water
So I became the Chairman in 1968
with the help of Lilli Hill and Myna Nobile, and Frank Papworth
as its Fine Arts Society board member
To keep this Art Guild
functioning with opportunities for the San Diego artists occupied
my full time
for the Guild was at its lowest ebb!
I met with Michael Ibs Gonzalez, lawyer for the Fine Arts Society
who helped rewrite the By-laws to meet the Museum's approval. It
took 9 months to get 125 written votes of approval of these by-laws,
thanks to Lilli Hill and Stan Newcomb. There was a membership drive,
museum exhibition and fund raiser, 'Illusions 68.' This idea grew
out of the Design Conference at Aspen, CO, and put the Art Guild
back on the Map!"
This was written in the San
Diego Union on April 29, 1968 by Eileen Jackson:
San Diego Athens Exchange
"Dr. Orrin Klapp, cultural
attaché in Athens who is on leave from the San Diego State
faculty, will arrange for a California crafts show to be exhibited
in the autumn in the binational center (Hellenic American Union)
in Athens. The San Diego Art Guild and Craftsmen already are assembling
a show. This spring Paul Lingren, professor of art at San Diego
State, will go to Athens to lecture and present a showing of his