The Wayne Art Center, part 6

Over the entire 20 years of the Wayne Art Center’s existence, its sponsors have maintained a continuous bond of interest between the public and the active members through lectures of such general interest that they have brought to the Art Center many who would otherwise know little of the organization and its work.

Illustrative of what the Art Center has endeavored to do are a few names chosen at random from the long list that stretches through the years. Some have already been mentioned. Among those who have not, are Stanley Muschamp, well-known voice teacher who gave a recital of his own songs; Edward Muschamp, author of “Audacious Audubon”; Henry Worlman, Boy Scout leader and sponsor of the famous Horse Shoe Trails; Eric Knight, distinguished autor and commentator; Sasha Siemel, big game hunter; Hester Cunningham, textile design and paints; Peter Nolan, soldier and authority on Kipling; Don Rose, columnist of the “Evening Bulletin”; Giuseppe Donato and Aurello Renzetti, sculptors; Dmitri White, sailor, soldier and author of “Survival”; Ida Pruitt, author of books on China, and translator of the works of Chinese authors; Thornton Oakley, illustrator and designer; Richard T. Dooner, photographer and Virginia Armitage McCall, artist and winner of the 1946 Gimbel Award, who is well-known for her work with plastic surgeons at Valley Forge General Hospital.

These men and women are top flight specialists in their various fields. And there have been so many others, equally well known. Some lectures represent the type of service to the community that the Art Center considers an essential part of their yearly program, and one that they aspire to incorporate in all plans for future activities.

As we close this series of articles on the Art Center it is interesting to note what some of its board members consider the outstanding contributions that their organization is making to the members of its many classes and to the community. In defining the Art Center, its president, Arthur Edrop, says:

“It is a non-profit organization, its only purpose to serve the community. It is maintained by its membership dues, its tuition fees and some donations from public-spirited citizens. It has carried on its work in the face of mounting costs and exceptionally heavy expenses. Its members and its Board of Directors do not ‘sit deedless’, but do everything possible to develop and stimulate interest in the arts and in the well-being of their fellows. Many of the members take advantage of the classes and of the fine corps of instructors to use their free time creatively. Others find pleasure and instruction in the lectures and exhibitions. Many young people are joining, and they are putting their life into an organization that is soon now to come of age. Although there are many professionals among its members, there are other people who have never drawn or painted before.”

Mr. Edrop is a charter member, as is Mrs. W. N. Stilwell, one of the four vice-presidents. The latter, in commenting on the Art Center’s place in the community, calls attention to the fact that during the war, the organization carried on its activities in spite of many difficulties, among them gas shortage. What it had to offer then was perhaps more important than at any other time since those days of the depression, when it was founded. During the war it offered a refuge to many who needed the relaxation that only creative work can give. To the weary and the heavy-hearted it was often a haven where the things that troubled them might be put aside for a few brief hours.

Further enlarging on this thought as it applies to the Art Center, not only during the war, but for all the time of its existence, including the present, Mrs. John Berg believes that it is an organization that “brings out the best in people.” Those who are blessed with much of the world’s goods and those who are blessed with little are “all levelled by the common denominator of seeking to develop the talent they share in common.” And “that”, adds Mrs. Berg, “is democracy, isn’t it?” Mrs. Berg, one of the younger group whom Mr. Edrop describes as “putting new life into the organization”, describes herself as “a complete outsider drawn to the group because of my love of the community.” The Art Center she thinks of as a place where “people put aside, when they enter, what is important to them in a material way, and go out full of the zest of accomplishing the things that are so close to their hearts.”

Miss Bernadine Tolan, a vice-president who has been interested in the Art Center since its earliest days, speaks with enthusiasm of the wide variety of its classes and of the excellence of its teaching staff. Particularly she would call attention to the children’s class held for many years on Saturday mornings, when there is always an overflow of enthusiastic attendance. This class is taught by Elizabeth R. Hoffman, assisted by Mrs. Russell Moore.

All who work now with the Art Center would pay tribute to those, who by their labors in the past, have made the present organization possible, particularly to those who are no longer with them save in the spirit. Miss Mary L. Walsh was a leader in the days of its organization, and its first president. Oswald Chew was another early president who contributed much time and interest. Henrietta McClure, herself a professional artist of note, taught many classes throughout the years until her recent death. Louise Tolan, who has been called “the life of the whole Art Center” by those who knew of her untiring efforts on its behalf, particularly in the management of the June Fetes, will always be remembered.

As this series closes, your columnist realizes that much that should have been said has of necessity been omitted, particularly concerning the interesting group of professional teachers who are at the Art Center this season. However, this omission may easily be remedied by direct contact with the Art Center on the part of those who are interested in its work.

A wealth of records has been placed at your columnist’s disposal. And for these and for many personal contacts she is indebted to the members of the Board of the Art Center.