NEW PORT RICHEY — What started off as a handful of artists painting at the park has grown into more than 100 dedicated members to form the West Pasco Art Guild. The guild will celebrate 50 years as an organization on Saturday, Nov. 9 “Golden Anniversary Art Show, Sale and Celebration” at the old church they call home.
“I think it’s pretty amazing,” said Sally Hanlon, the guild’s publicity chairperson. “This is a group started by a bunch of volunteers and run by volunteers ever since. We don’t get outside funds; no taxpayers give us anything. We support ourselves
The guild relies on annual membership dues, workshop fees and donations to keep the lights on at its gallery and workshop space at 6206 Jefferson St. It is one of few art guilds nationally to own its own space to hold shows and classes, Hanlon said.
The guild started with a small group of people who met to paint at Sims Park in downtown New Port Richey in 1959 and then decided to form an art organization. This interest grew and the guild was formally founded in 1963. The first meetings were held in the New Port Richey Civic Center and in 1966, the group moved to the old firehouse building on East Main Street.
Membership increased rapidly and soon outgrew the building. With the help of the city council, permission was granted to move into the unoccupied Old Kentucky Inn, at 100 South Boulevard. This location was used for five years until fund raising activities made it possible for the guild to purchase its own building in 1971, the former home of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church.
This site at Jefferson and Missouri remains the center of activity today with about 135 members.
Themed art receptions are held monthly and members can create art in any medium that follows the theme.
“Everybody’s got their own style,” Hanlon has said. “You give someone a paintbrush and say ‘paint this,’ and you get all these different works.”
In addition to art receptions, the guild holds weekly classes on topics such as acrylic painting, watercolor, ceramics, polymer clay, fused glass and more.
A schedule of classes, which range in cost from about $25 to $150, is available online or by calling (727) 841-7732.
The goals of the West Pasco Art Guild are to create, foster and sustain interest in the involvement of fine arts, to sponsor education, programs, displays and exhibitions and increase the skills of the members, Hanlon said.
They even have an on-site art library, which is accessible to all members, that began in 1972 with 64 books and now contains more than 3,000.
At the Golden Anniversary Art Show, Sale and Celebration on Nov. 9, the guild will host an opening reception for the latest gold-themed art show and then awards will be distributed from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
At 11:15 a.m., Mayor Bob Consalvo will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony to begin another 50 years of art in New Port Richey. The Suncoast Harmony Chorus will perform and will be refreshments. The public is invited to the reception and show and admission is free.
On Sunday, Nov. 10, the guild will be open from noon until 4 p.m. Regular exhibit hours are from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday,and from noon until 3 p.m. Saturday. The gallery will be closed on Thanksgiving.
The address is 6206 Jefferson St., in downtown New Port Richey. For more information call (727) 841-7732 or visit www.westpascoartguild.org
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