Brushstrokes: Then & Now

On Friday, August 15 from 6 to 8 pm, the Women’s Art League of Akron invites the public to help celebrate the opening of its 75th anniversary show at Summit Artspace Gallery.  Titled Then & Now Brushstrokes, the juried exhibition features works by current club members, which were specially selected by artists John Smolko and Ken Kirkland.  There will also be a display of historical paintings from the 1930s-1940s created by the group’s charter members.

The Women’s Art League first met on September 22, 1933 in the Rose Boulevard home of Florence Richardson.  Twenty artists, mainly art teachers and socialites, attended.  The league was formed in reaction to the for men only Akron Society of Artists, which was founded in 1931.  The group, which is still active today, did not admit women until the 1980s.

The league women were professional and dedicated painters.  One member, Greta Kempton, went on to paint Harry Truman’s official presidential portrait that hangs in the National Portrait Gallery.  They met every Friday to sketch and paint.  Their favorite subject was landscapes, painted primarily in oils and watercolors.   The club  held shows to sell their works and hosted the annual Rubber Ball.

Well-known charter members include Gertrude Seiberling, Jane Barnhart, Julia Devell, Grace Rankin, Ruth Oenslager and Katherine Calvin.  Paintings by these women and others have been loaned by collectors for the exhibit, which runs through September 20.

Work by Madeline Milford

Work by Madeline Milford

 

Summit Artspace is supported by

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