Mountain Artists Guild

1949 – 2022

The Forties

MAG founded on October 28, 1949. Founding group included Mabel Lawrence, Claire Dooner Phillips, George Phippen and Dr. Florence Yount. Originally named the “Prescott Art League,” founding president, Frances Brown, was instrumental in changing the name to Mountain Artists Guild.

The Fifties

1950 – The group met in homes until January 1950, when a back room at Rohrer-Bloom Drug Store became available for $25 per month. Helon Hendrix, Prescott City Librarian, arranged for an exhibit area in the Carnegie Library for MAG and the Camera Club. The first one-man show was the work of Creston Baumgartener. George Phippen had a one-man show over July 4th. Later, his “Ghost Riders in the Sky” won the popular vote at both the Yavapai County Fair and the State Fair. This painting attracted national attention and George was discovered.

In August of 1950, plans were made for a Plaza Art Show. Helon Hendrix was president of the Business and Professional Women, which sponsored the first show. MAG drew up the rules and the first Plaza Art Show on the Yavapai Courthouse Plaza was held on September 23, 1950. The next year, MAG took over the hosting responsibilities. In 1953, Smoki Day was chosen by the Guild for the Plaza Show on August 7th and 8th. The show has been held on the second weekend of August since.

1959 – The University of Arizona offered summer extension courses in watercolor and oil painting. The Guild awarded scholarships, to cover the tuition charges for these art courses, to local high school art students showing talent and recommended by an instructor. Mrs. Dora Hunt, head nurse at Yavapai County Hospital, asked MAG to develop an art therapy program for some of the elderly patients. Malden Mylott, a patient with talent and an interest in painting, was mentored by Mabel Lawrence for more than twenty years.

Guild member Bess Hoffman donated paintings by the late Kate Cory, artist, photographer, and writer of life on the Hopi Reservation. Some of her work is in the Smithsonian Museum. The Guild donated the paintings to the Sharlot Hall Museum.

The Sixties

1960 – The programs presented in the sixties covered a variety of topics. Among these were: Crafts and Weaving by Mary Pendleton of Sedona; Sculpture, the Lost Wax Process, by John Nogle; Design and Composition by Paul Coze of Scottsdale; and Indian Art by Dave Chethlahe Paladin. Meetings were held at the Sharlot Hall Museum.

Throughout the early history, the Guild collaborated with many Prescott banks, hotels, stores, schools and the library for space to install exhibitions. By the end of the decade the Guild was determined to acquire a permanent home.

1969 Notable artists were teaching at meetings held at Sharlot Hall Museum

The Seventies

1970 – Work continued to raise funds for the gallery as well as providing scholarships to local students, this time Yavapai College students.

1971 – The Guild moved to the Armory on Gurley Street, marking the beginning of a full-time gallery. The situation had improved but the quest for a better location continued.

1973 – The Bashford House, located on the southeast corner of Gurley and Pleasant, was purchased with plans to demolish the home. The community was up in arms and the house’s owner offered it to the Sharlot Hall Museum with the stipulation that it be relocated.

As fundraising drives were organized, the Guild negotiated a five-year lease for a portion of the house. In the spring of the following year, the house was moved, and renovations began. It was two years before the Guild could move into the new quarters. The new Mountain Artists Guild Gallery opened its doors on May 9, 1976.

1976 The new Mountain Artists Guild Gallery in Bashford House at Sharlot Hall Museum opened May 9, 1976

1979 – One wall of the Gallery in the Bashford House was devoted to the Artist of the Month. Works of an individual artist were highlighted on this wall for one month. The Annual Art Festival had grown to 300 exhibitors from all over the Southwest

The Eighties

1980 – The Guild shifted its emphasis back to education and creativity. A library was established in the spring. In summer, the first workshop was offered. In August, a small house on Willow Street became available; they leased it for a year. At last there was a place for the library to grow, a place for workshops to take place, and a way for the Guild to keep its tax-free status.

In 1981, after overcoming many obstacles, the Guild bought a house on the corner of Hillside and Ruth and began renovations. The Guild held an open house in May, more than 32 years after the establishment of MAG. And so began more classes and workshops, more meetings of artists and craftspeople.

The Nineties

1990 – Most of the Guild’s activities continued. The monthly one wall exhibits, the spring art show the summer art show, demonstrations, workshops, and scholarships flourished. Also continuing was public debate about the value of the Courthouse Plaza events and their impact on local business.

1994 – The Guild began awarding visual arts scholarships to talented high school and college students. The awards started at $500, then $750, and presently are $1000 each year. By 1998 the number of recipients had risen to five.

1999 – In May, the dream of a “proper” gallery, was fulfilled with the leasing of property on Gurley Street near the Frame and I. A part-time manager was hired. The gallery was a great place… openings, one-wall shows by members, and all juried work. With the help of many volunteers, the gallery was up and running.

The New Millennium

2000 – The Guild’s first poster contest was held in the summer, with several hundred posters printed from the artwork selected by the membership. These posters were featured at the two shows on the Plaza. The poster contest continued throughout the decade.

2001 – The Guild found its first permanent home on Ruth Street

2002 – In early March, a property was identified on Alarcon Street that could possibly meet the needs of the Guild. The facility had 7000 sq. ft. on two levels and the membership voted to purchase the building. Plans were immediately developed for the renovation of the Alarcon building, including a gallery, meeting rooms, offices, a library, and rental space. The designs for this project were made by a local architect who was one of our members. The Guild moved from Ruth Street to Alarcon in June of 2002. With that move, the Guild changed from a club operation to a non-profit business.

The 2010s – The Guild continues its mission as a non-profit organization dedicated to providing education, support, and training in all aspects of the visual arts through exhibits, workshops, scholarships, seminars, and practical experience in the creation of artistic works. The Guild serves as a charitable vehicle through which artists and members may associate with others of similar interests, offering support and encouragement for the development of their artistic talents.

2019- The Guild is committed to supporting the arts throughout Yavapai County by developing relationships with local schools and colleges, offering free art courses for veterans through our Veterans Art Program and Kids Summer Art Camp

The Guild encourages the community to support its Mission by attending the 4th Friday Art Walk, visiting the gallery, enjoying our festivals, and participating in our workshops and open studio sessions.