Tuesday, August 29, 2006

"Our Aims And What We Offer"

Another item of P&C ephemera I received recently from Frank Hensley was a copy of an old brochure. It is not dated, but it bears an acquisition stamp from the Art Institute's Ryerson Library of July 3, 1952. The pamphlet indicates that the club was then located on Dearborn Street, where we are currently.

The brochure is titled, "Our Aims And What We Offer." Here it is:

The Palette and Chisel Academy of Fine Arts had its beginning in 1895, when a group of art students were considering the need of a place where they could study together and have the benefit of friendly criticisms and suggestions, but at the same time develop their own technique without let or hindrance. The validity of this idea is seen both in the long life of the organization and in the number of its members who have risen to high rank among the artists of America. Very few of he original group remain, but the principles they upheld are as virile today as when first advocated.

For experiment and practise the Palette and Chisel Academy of Fine Arts offers unique opportunities. The location on the "Near North Side" is in a district known as the center of the cultural activities of Chicago. The Academy building, which is owned by the organization, is a substantial structure of the residential type, remodeled for its purposes and containing one of the finest general studios in the country together with private studios and exhibition galleries.

Professional models are posed in the general studio every Tuesday and Thrusday evening throughout the year and on Sundays from November to April. Competent instructors give criticisms when requested. In the galleries general and individual exhibitions of works by members follow one another from month to month, providing opportunities for approach to the art buying public. Frequent social gatherings and lectures on art topics furnish occasions for fraternizing and entertaining friends.

To become an artist member of the Palette and Chisel Academy of Fine Arts it is necessary to have had sufficient training or experience to produce works which are acceptable to the board of managers. To become a fellowship member it is necessary to show an appreciation of the fine arts and a desire to further the development of the graphic and plastic arts in particular. The membership is composed entirely of men.

Regular members, artist and fellowship, are eligible to vote and hold office. Their membership fee is $100 (on which terms can be arranged) and their dues $48 per annum, payable quarterly in advance.

In order to accommodate students, who later may become eligible for regular membership, we have a class of associate members. These pay an entry fee of $5, with the same dues as regular members. They have the use of the studio and other facilities of the Academy and can also take part in the exhibitions, but do not vote or hold office.

Among the former and present members of the Palette and Chisel Academy of Fine Arts are:

Gustave Baumann, Joseph P. Birren*, C. Curry Bohm, Karl C. Brandner, Frank V. Dudley, Harry L. Engle, R. W. Grafton*, J. Jeffrey Grant, L. O. Griffith, Edward T. Grigware, Oskar Gross, Otto E. Hake, E. Martin Hennings, Victor Higgins, N.A., Othmar Hoffler, Frank Holme*, Edward Holslag*, Art Huhta, Henry Hutt, David Hunter*, Rudolph F. Ingerle, Wilson Irvine, A.N.A.*, Alfred Janssen*, Holger W. Jensen, Roy C. Keister, Troy Kinney, A.N.A.*, Carl R. Krafft, Fred T. Larson, Frank X. Leyendecker*, Ossip Linde, Andrew Loomis, Hardesty G. Maratta*, Leo A. Marzolo, Laurence Mazzanovich, Thomas G. Moses*, Frederick J. Mulhaupt, A.N.A.*, Charles J. Mulligan*, Karl Ouren, Edgar Payne, Albin Polasek, N.A., Frank W. Raymond, Trygve A. Rovelstad, Eugene Savage, N.A., Felix Schmidt, Sigurd Schou*, Emory P. Seidel, Glen C. Sheffer, John A. Spelman, N. P. Steinberg, Joseph Tomanek, James Topping, Audubon Tyler, Walter Ufer, N.A.*, J. Scott Williams, A.N.A., Ezra Winter, N.A. (*deceased).

Artists and students desiring to avail themselves of he advantages offered by membership in the Palette and Chisel Academy of Fine Arts are cordially invited to call any Tuesday or Thursday evening between seven and nine o'clock. This will give them an opportunity to meet some of our members and see our classes and exhibitions.

1012 North Dearborn Street


Blogger chris miller said...

Another remarkable document !

Since Mulhaupt(died 1938) is noted as dead - while Fred Larson (1868-1944) was noted as still living -- we can peg the date of this document to between 1938-1944 --- a time when that $100 initiation fee would have been a substantial investment -- especially for those employed as artists -- while the annual dues of $48 might be considered as similar to that paid today -- given a 10X rate of inflation between now and the Depression.

I'm guessing that the $50 which is currently charged to promote an "associate member" to an "artist member" is a vestige of that $100 initiation - that was first cut-in-half ---- and then eventually rendered insignificant by inflation.

And, of course, back then such promotion was not automatic -- it required serious vetting by the board --- a feature which survives in vestigal form in the formal application for associate membership.

But as you'll note --- the "associate member" back then had all the priveleges (and dues) of an artist member EXCEPT the right to vote and hold office on the board -- i.e anyone who wanted to paint at the P&C could do so -- just like today. (except for gender - and probably ethnic restriction)

And -- let us note that there was one category of membership that has been entirely dropped from our by-laws: the "fellowship member" who was required to "show an appreciation of the fine arts and a desire to further the development of the graphic and plastic arts in particular" -- i.e. men who devoted not just to their own self improvement -- but to the appreciation and developement of the visual arts.

What were these "fellowship members" expected to do ? Did they have a special role as advisors to the board ? How were they selected ? These remain open questions!

Let us also note that "Competent instructors give criticisms when requested." ---
which sounds somewhat similar to the academies in Paris --- where, rather than running an American-style classroom, the master might occasionally visit the studio and offer judgements as requested -- so perhaps the name "Academy of Fine Arts" was not so fanciful/anachronistic in those days and it sounds today.

And finally -- what ever happened to the " Frequent social gatherings and lectures on art topics furnish occasions for fraternizing and entertaining friends" When was the last "lecture on an art topic" that we ever had ? That seems to have disappeared along with "fraternization"

Well -- we live in a very different world -- so it shouldn't be surprising that the P&C is very different as well.

I suppose the miracle is that it has survived at all -- and in several ways, we've improved -- with about 15 weekly model-workshops instead of 3 -- and with memberhip open to all genders and ethnicities. (BTW -- does anyone know when the first African-American became a member ? That's another open question)

August 30, 2006  

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