Nina Hawkins, the first female editor of the St. Augustine Record, saw the need for an organized group to promote the arts in St. Augustine. On January 18, 1924, she gathered together wintering artists and writers to form the Pen & Brush Club, which soon became the Galleon Club, and eventually the St. Augustine Art Association. The organization went through a few fits and starts during its early years, and in 1931 artists Hildegard Müller-Uri and J. Dexter Phinney took the art association to the next level with the intent of making St. Augustine a major winter art colony.
The duo’s success in leading the art association brought in big name artists and collectors from northern states, such as Maine and New York, with established art colonies. Artists Anthony Thieme, Tod Lindenmuth, and his wife, E. B. Warren, to name a few, were instrumental in the credibility and growth of the organization. By the late 1940s, membership was at an all-time high and funds had been raised for the organization to construct its own building. In February 1954 the St. Augustine Art Association opened its permanent doors at 22 Marine Street in historic downtown.
Over the next decades, the organization continued to grow and expand exhibits, memberships, programs, and gallery space. It was incorporated as a nonprofit and its bylaws were amended so that the property would always remain devoted to public charities with a preference for the arts. Today, St. Augustine is home to many wonderful art galleries and artists, ranging from amateurs and students to internationally acclaimed professionals. With its extensive permanent collection of important St. Augustine art; large, active membership; and ever-expanding exhibitions, programs, and partnerships, the association thrives and is recognized as the epicenter of St. Augustine’s visual art community.
As the St. Augustine Art Association approaches its 100th anniversary, the nonprofit is looking forward to exciting things planned, including an interior renovation project to improve exhibition space, special exhibits, celebrations, a capital campaign, and more!
Join and follow the St. Augustine Art Association to stay apprised of monthly exhibits, happenings, and the 100th anniversary celebrations: www.staaa.org. Patrons can visit the St. Augustine Art Association at 22 Marine Street, St. Augustine, Tuesdays through Sundays 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., and view exhibits online.