The Prequel (1904-1914)
The history of the Guild begins in January 1904 with a meeting of local artists and their friends. The first article written about that event was published in the San Diego Evening Tribune on February 19, 1904. It is as follows:
ART LOVERS ORGANIZED
"Organization was practically
completed at Thearle's music rooms of the San Diego Art association,
some thirty being in attendance, a noticeable increase over the
size of the first meeting two weeks ago. Much enthusiasm was manifested
and the feeling prevailed at the close, that an era of awakened
interest in art in this city may be confidently expected.
On August 19, 1904 the San Diego Art Association was formally incorporated. Future Guild members on the original document as Directors or Trustees of said Corporation are Daniel Cleveland, Charles A. Fries, and Nora V. Sullivan. President Daniel Cleveland stated at the time of incorporation the objectives of the new association:
"The encouragement and study of art in all its higher branches.
Two months after incorporation, bylaws were adopted and the association established the annual meeting to be held on the third Thursday in January. Cultural leaders and artists who signed the bylaws included, Daniel Cleveland, Charles A. Fries, Annie Pierce, and Julius Wangenheim. Standing committees within the organization included the Outdoor (Civic) Committee as well as the standard Program, Membership, Finance, Exhibition, and Art Purchase committees. The association worked to develop an art interest within the community through educational, exhibition, and collecting programs.
Cleveland was the first Republican mayor of San Antonio,
Texas. After the Civil War, this Poughkeepsie, New York native
came to San Diego in 1869. A practicing lawyer for over fifty
years, he was active in local banking, railroad promotion and
real estate development. Among his many interests was co-founder
of San Diego's first bank-the Bank of San Diego-with Alonzo E.
Horton, Matthew Sherman, and others, in 1870.
In the beginning,
the San Diego Art Association held several exhibitions in the
art gallery on the second floor of the Andrew Carnegie public
library. Their first exhibition was held in July 1905. Among the
exhibiting artists were Charles Fries, Ammi
Farnham, and San Diego natives Annie Pierce, and Alice
Klauber. The first exhibitions were held twice yearly,
during the summer and winter months. These exhibits featured mostly
local art, but other artists were allowed to show. Works were
frequently sold and the gallery was freely opened to the public.
The association also purchased works of art for a permanent collection.
A series of lectures was sponsored by the association on the third
Monday of each month. These monthly meetings were held in the
private homes of its members. There they discussed art, had the
lectures about historical artists and their work, and planned
for the future of the visual arts in our community. In March of
1905 a sketch club was formed.
Daniel Cleveland stated at
the association's annual meeting in January 1906, "Our local
artists have felt and acknowledged the stimulus and help given
to them by the association, and they have entered enthusiastically
into our purposes and our work. The display of their pictures
in our public exhibitions has made them and their merits better
known to the public, and has created a demand for their work.
It has been seen that our artists compare favorably with painters
in other sections of our land, whose pictures hang on the same
walls with them. Our artists have been drawn more closely together
in a spirit of good fellowship, and in mutual respect and helpfulness."
Note: Links go to photos on The San Diego History Center werbsite.