The Wayne Art Center, part 3

The Charter for the Wayne Art Center when granted on January 29, 1932, in the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas, stated the purpose for which the corporation was formed to be as follows:

“To induce the use of free time creatively in the community and to promote the art of self-expression and appreciation of beauty by studying, teaching and disseminating knowledge of painting, drawing, sculpture, music, drama and handcrafts.”

The Art Center’s means of maintenance was to be “by tuition fees received for instruction, by dues or fees for members and by voluntary contribution.” That its founders were ambitious in their ideas on future finances is witnessed by Article 9 of the Charter, which states that “The annual income of the corporation, other than that derived from real estate, shall not exceed the sum of $20,000.”

The first meeting of the incorporators of the Art Center was immediately followed by the first meeting of the newly elected directors. Miss Mary L. Walsh was chosen president, with Henry R. Harris and E. deF. Curtis to serve as vice-presidents. Mrs. Clarence Tolan, Jr., was elected treasurer and C. A. McClure, secretary. William H. Lister was made chairman of the activities committee; Mrs. Addison S. Buck of the House Committee; Arthur N. Edrop of the Publicity Committee and Richard Howson of the Finance Committee.

Directors for the first term of office included: George H. Borst, Dr. A. S. Buck, C. P. Cox, E. deF. Curtis, A. H. Edrop, Mrs. John W. Frazier, H. R. Harris, Miss Dora W. Howson, William H. Lister, Mrs. C. A. McClure, S. V. Rowland, Mrs. W. N. Stilwell, Miss H. Velma Turner, Miss M. L. Walsh, Miss Lillian A. Wlater, Mrs. Rufus Waples and P. G. Watmough.

In commenting on the newly incorporated Art Center “The Suburban”, in its issue of March 4, stated that “the problem in the Charter is something to which sociologists and economists the world over are giving consideration. It is a question which must be solved, not only in this community, but in all communities. Wayne should be congratulated on having arrived at at least one solution of the problem in the development of an art center. The idea, born but a few short months ago, struggling successfully towards its ultimate goal in spite of many difficulties, has already made itself an important factor in the life of the town.”

The phenomenal success of the work carried on during that first summer of 1931 warranted very definite plans for diversified classes for the fall term and again for the spring term of 1932. Preserved in the first scrap book of newspaper clippings of the Art Center is a charming picture accompanying a special feature article appearing in the “Evening Ledger” of June 30, 1931. It shows a group of four Wayne youngsters as they sat under the trees working with paints or clay, under the supervision of Miss Elizabeth Gookin. They are Jack and Bill Simons and Laura and Mary Carpenter, all of whom have since moved from Wayne. These four were a fration of those who enrolled as soon as the opportunity presented itself. In the end there were some 136 students, 119 of whom were youngsters. Mrs. McClure, who was a well-known painter and illustrator, was in charge of the work at the studio in the garage on the H. B. Powell place on Midland avenue. Miss Gookin, likewise a painter, who was also particularly interested in pottery, assisted Mrs. McClure. Others who taught the children’s classes were Miss Jean Frazier, Mrs. William Beatty, and Miss Edith Lengert. The adult class, meeting on Friday nights, had P. G. Watmough, of Devon, as its instructor. Later on George H. Borst, well-known local sculptor, was added to the list of instructors.

September saw the first exhibition of the work of the new Art Center, an exhibition which drew goodly crowds for a week’s time. Among the visitors of note were William Tefft Schwartz, painter of murals; Hy Gage, famous cartoonist; W. H. Lister, illustrator of many books and of numerous advertising campaigns and S. V. Rowland, superintendent of schools.

In addition to classes a series of educational talks on subjects related to arts and crafts was planned for the spring term of 1932, the first being one on ceramic art by E. deF. Curtis, on of the founders of the Art Center and a man well-known for the beauty of his pottery, which he designed and made in Strafford. In addition to his own work Mr. curtis was a teacher of pottery at the Pennsylvania Museum Schools of Industrial Art in Philadelphia.

But for all of its activity the Wayne Art Center’s finances were at a low ebb at this time. The report of the finance committee at an April meeting was largely confined to a “discussion of the present emergency as regards operating funds.” Since the response to recent circular letters had been disappointing, it was imperative to raise money to tide the organization over until fall. May proposals were made, including that of an auction sale of the work of active members of the Art Center, to follow the exhibition planned for May. It was also deemed necessary that donations be solicited from parents of children enrolling in the summer classes, although tuition would continue to be free to those who could not afford a contribution. But in spite of misgivings the summer session of 1932 was a full one, as will be described in next week’s column.