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A History of the Regina Artist Guilds
Prairie Artists Guild - Harvest of Art - 2012

A History of the Regina Artist Guilds


Artist guilds have been a feature of the Saskatchewan art landscape for decades, as groups have come together to build strong communities of painters, potters, wood-turners, and just about any other kind of artist. Click here for NAC's introduction to artists guilds and how they function, and read on to learn more about the dynamic stories of seven guilds that are active in Regina and the surrounding area today.

Regina Federation of Artists

The story of Regina’s longest-standing artists association begins in 1942 with the establishment of the Regina Branch of the National Federation of Canadian Artists (FCA). Artist Ernest Lindner, then the Federation’s Chairman for the province, came from Saskatoon to Regina to organize a meeting of interested individuals at the Hotel Saskatchewan. The first Chairman of the Regina Branch — J.H. Lee-Grayson — and the first Executive Secretary — Frank Portnall — were elected, and early members included Dorothy Martin, Laura Lamont, Jean Bell, and F.N. Darke. Other notable members included Saskatchewan Order of Merit recipient Ruth Pawson, who exhibited in the First Annual Exhibition of the Federation of Canadian Artists in Saskatoon in 1944, and Kay Bould, who showed in the Provincial Exhibition of the Federation of Canadian Artists in 1948 in Prince Albert.

By 1949, the Federation of Canadian Artists had achieved its initial goals after presenting an historic brief to the Government of Canada through the Massey Commission, a move which eventually led to increased federal support for the arts, including the passage of the Canada Council Act. At the same time, the expenses of running a nation-wide organization had become burdensome. The FCA decided to discontinue its national administration, and in May of 1949, local members initiated the Regina Federation of Artists with Alf Davey as the first President. Other members during this period were Lorraine Ellingham and watercolourist Pat Stanford.


Regina Federation of Artists - Spring Show 2011   


Since those early days, the Regina Federation of Artists (RFA) and its members have remained active in the local arts scene. Exhibition activities were always emphasized, with shows held at the Shrine Temple, the Civil Service Auditorium, and St. Paul’s Cathedral, where the guild showed for a number of years, including during St. Paul’s centennial year in 1982. During the 1960s, the RFA’s shows had a high-profile supporter, as Regina mayor Henry Baker often attended. Other exhibition venues have included the Hotel Saskatchewan, Government House, and Odd Fellows Hall.

The RFA’s membership has included many well-known artists and many who have made significant contributions to Saskatchewan’s visual arts community. When the RFA celebrated its Silver Anniversary in 1967, the title “Honoured Founders” was given to Frank Portnall, Dorothy Martin, Laura Lamont and Jean Bell, all of whom were still active members at the time. RFA members Kay Bould and Lynne Erickson were involved in the founding and operation of the Rosemont Art Gallery in the early 1980s, and Larry Jackson went on to found the Brushworks Artists’ Guild in 1989. Supporting aspiring artists has also been an important activity: in 1962, the RFA began donating an annual bursary to graduating high school students pursuing art studies; in 2005 this bursary became the Regina Federation of Artists Scholarship at the University of Regina, awarded to students in the Arts Education program.

The Regina Federation of Artists continues to evolve as it looks toward its 75th anniversary in 2017. The past decade has seen the guild develop a website and a logo, resolve to accept original digital artwork in addition to more traditional mediums, and develop a new artist-in-residence and sponsor partnership with the Wascana Centre Authority. As the guild considers the needs of new and younger members, the role of other art forms, like performance and graffiti, is being considered and debated.

The RFA continues to promote and support visual artists through exhibitions, summer retreats, and other opportunities for community and education. Since 2007, the RFA’s two yearly shows (in spring and fall) have been held at Wascana Place. The RFA is a member of the Regina Art Gallery and encourages its members to join as well.

The RFA’s membership has fluctuated over its history and as other local guilds have been developed (In 1985, there were an incredible 78 members!). In 2013, the guild has around 25 members and is open to new applications. The RFA website has more information about the association and on how to become a member.

Moose Jaw Art Guild

The Moose Jaw Art Guild has deep roots, developing out of a long history of active artists—in particular, women artists—in the area. The Guild originally formed from members of the Moose Jaw Women’s Art Association, a chapter of the provincial association which began under the direction of Vaughan Grayson and Barbara Barber in 1929.

Successful in promoting Saskatchewan women’s art locally and outside the province, the Women’s Art Association was also involved in local art classes. It was from one of these classes that in 1949, ten Moose Jaw women moved to form a new group. These women, identified in the Moose Jaw Art Guild’s written history as Mrs Marwood Gaye, Mrs O. Wilson, Mrs W.E.S. West, Mrs Walter Clarke, Mrs Oswald Fysh, Miss Ruth Way, Miss Marie Stewart, Miss Isabel Anderson, Mrs Hugh House, and Miss Letty Stewart, established a 25-cent annual membership fee and began operating as the Moose Jaw Fine Art Guild. In the Guild’s early years, some members continued to meet with the Women’s Art Association, and in 1950, the Guild even sent members’ work to the National Women’s Art Association of Canada Show in Toronto.

As the Guild was established, the organization underwent numerous changes. In 1951, the membership fee was doubled to 50 cents, and men were given permission to join. The following year, the Guild held its first show, displaying 40 paintings at the local Y.M.C.A. in what would become an annual tradition. And in 1953, the first man — W.A. Metcalf — joined the Guild.


1957 was a particularly significant year, as the Guild received two $100.00 bonds, meant to establish a bursary for young artists, when the provincial Women’s Art Association disbanded. These bonds were granted to the Guild with the support of benefactor Barbara Barber, who was named an Honorary President for this and her other numerous contributions to the arts. The same year, the Guild developed a constitution that outlined, among other things, the goals of the organization. These goals, which are still ideals of the guild today, involve encouraging awareness and appreciation of art, bringing artists together, and working with other groups to increase these opportunities.


                                                                                           Moose Jaw Art Guild - 2012

The Guild continued to grow and change as their annual exhibitions moved to the Moose Jaw Public Library in 1958 and to the Moose Jaw Art Museum in 1967. Other local venues have been display sites for the Guild’s work; most notably, there have been associations with the Uptown Cafe and 15 Wing Moose Jaw since 1983 and 1995, respectively. The Guild’s involvement with the community has included creating a public collaborative mural that illustrated the history of Moose Jaw (1971) and painting local fire hydrants as part of a city beautification project (1989). And in 1984, the Guild changed its name to the Moose Jaw Art Guild and began accepting art in media other than painting, including crafts and folk art.

Today, the Moose Jaw Art Guild includes about 15 members work who in a variety of two-dimensional art forms as well as glass, folk art, stone, textiles, pottery, mixed media, and basketry. The Guild holds monthly business meetings and “Art Afternoons” every Friday. Other artistic development activities include classes, workshops, and coordinated trips to various Saskatchewan galleries. The Moose Jaw Art Guild is active in the local community, sponsoring bursaries for high school art students and a Heritage student award. In 2012, the Guild, along with the Moose Jaw Museum and Art Gallery, hosted a “Community Artist Development Day,” a networking and educational event for artists that will be held regularly in the future.

The Moose Jaw Art Guild holds two gallery exhibitions each year, and hosts over 50 art booths at the Artisan Village at Moose Jaw’s Summerfest. Those interested in joining can find more information on the guild’s website.

HeARTland Artists’ Guild/Regina North Artists' Guild

The Regina North Artists’ Guild (originally the Regina North Amateur Artists’ Guild) was established in 1980 by a group of artists who hoped to encourage artistic talent in north Regina. Their first meeting was held at the Pasqua Recreation Centre, with sixteen artists in attendance, including Bea Anderson and John Melanson, the Guild’s first president. The Guild held their first show and sale in 1982, displaying 60 pieces of art.

The Regina North Artists’ Guild was active for approximately 30 years with the support of members including Corine Ripplinger, Ivy Saunders, Muriel Matchett, Lorie McGeough, Beth Gaffney, Nikki Jacquin (nee Sacchetti), Yvonne Kydd, Louise Howe, Doreen Turner, and Ann Lovering. Affiliated with the Regina North Zone Board, the Guild was incorporated in 1993. In addition to its annual show and sale, the Regina North Artists’ Guild held regular meetings that allowed members to try methods and techniques in a variety of different mediums, including wood, pottery, and metal.

In 2010, the Regina North Artists’ Guild became the HeARTland Artists’ Guild and was incorporated the same year. HeARTland continues to support art in all mediums and artists at all levels, from novice to expert. Weekly meetings from September to May at Argyle Park Community Centre allow members to work in a friendly group atmosphere, and regular critiques and workshops assist in the development of members’ techniques. HeARTland holds a show in April of each year.


                                                                              Heartland Artists' Guild - April 2012

Aurora Art Guild

The Aurora Art Guild was formed in 1982 when a group of east Regina artists met to discuss forming a guild in their neighbourhood. At the time, there were only other two guilds in the city, the Regina Federation of Artists and the Regina North Artists’ Guild, and travelling from the east was inconvenient for some artists. A group of artists met at the home of Marci Wheatley, and by the end of the evening, Wheatley, along with Pat Smith, Yvonne Kydd, Madeline Wall, Beth Gaffney, Verna Betker, Joyce Sotski (nee Adrian), and Rose Odling had become the founding members of Regina’s third artists’ guild.

Joyce Sotski — a graphic designer and new media developer by profession — is credited with bringing forward the name “Aurora.” The name of the Greek goddess of the dawn in classical mythology, the name denotes a promising beginning of greater things, and is also the Latin word for “east.” Members have further found meaning in the connection between the colours of the aurora borealis (northern lights) and the rainbow of colour in each artist’s palette.

In its early years, the Aurora Art Guild was affiliated with the East Central Zone Board, meeting at W.F. Ready School every Monday evening. Pat Smith served as president, with other members including Lynne Erickson, who became a member in 1986, and portrait artist Nikki Jacquin. Membership continued to grow and by 1988 when the guild held its Third Annual Art Exhibition at the Centre of the Arts, a sizable group of artists were there to show their work in what members now remember as a special social event, complete with white tablecloths and wine. These artists included Joyce Sotski, Beryl Arnold, Bunny Beaton, Ernie Bereti, Verna Betker, Margaret Brown, Lucy Cobb, Stan Crawford, Helen Dean, Sherman Der, Lynne Erickson, Linda Flavel, Beth Gaffney, Pat Harrison, Darlene Hymers, Shirley Mames, Terry Kleemola, Yvonne Kydd, Orville Larmer, Angela Lucas, Marilynn Malo, Rose Odling, Lee Putz, Cathy Regehr, Pat Smith, Gail Szeles, Lal Straub, David Thompson, Madeleine Wall, Rhonda Yauck, and Fran Zerr. The Guild has held its membership limit to 30, and in the 1980s and 1990s, there were waiting lists to join. The Prairie Artists’ Guild, known as the “sister guild” of the Aurora, originated from the Aurora’s waiting list in 1988.

In addition to its annual art shows where members can display and sell their work, Aurora Art Guild has provided members with art instruction, opportunities to make social connections, and mentorship. Meetings have been held at various locations over the Guild’s history: the Cable Regina cafeteria room, Wilfred Walker School, the Quebec and Ontario rooms at the Centre of the Arts, and the artists’ homes, particularly, for a number of years, at Beth Gaffney’s.

                                                                                       Aurora Art Guild - November 2011

After a decline in membership which led to a low of 14 members in 2007, the Aurora Art Guild is today vibrant, with a membership of about 25 artists working in a variety of styles and mediums; this includes a number of 2- and 3-dimensional artists and Fine Arts university students. The Aurora Art Guild holds two three-day shows per year: one in November at Research Park/Innovation Place, and another in conjunction with the Prairie Artists’ Guild in mid-May at Wascana Rehabilitation Centre. More information on the Guild’s activities and membership can be found through its website.

Prairie Artists' Guild

“The journey of the Prairie Artists’ Guild has been evolutionary,” says member Marg Delainey, remarking on her guild’s history as it has become larger, more professional, and more involved in Regina’s art community. Founded in 1988, the Prairie Artists’ Guild (PAG) was the creation of a small group of artists seeking a community in which to improve their skills and display and sell their work. Painter David Butt, now a lifetime member of the Guild, is credited with being the driving force behind PAG’s formation. Butt designed PAG’s logo and presented the first draft of bylaws in June of 1988.

The Guild’s first meetings were held at Campbell Collegiate, a Regina high school. Early members included Charles Bell, Christine Berriman, Denise Bostock, Elaine Clerc, David Escott, Jean Finell, Helen Friesen, Margaret Grismer, Mary Nash, Kay Perecz, Zona Wale, Lucia Kraetzig, Gail Beesley, Carolyn Nording, Cindy Young, Hulda George, and Jean Zora. By September of 1989, there were 32 members, including new additions Elaine Seis and Nancy Brandiezs. In October of the same year, the Guild participated in the Rosemont Art Gallery Show and Sale and held its own first show over three days in November and December at the Wascana Rehab Centre.

Since its beginnings, PAG has been involved in arts and community initiatives in Regina, including the Downtown Art Walk and Painting in the Park. Members have been called on to paint the windows of downtown businesses and have displayed their work at the Allan Blair Cancer Clinic and the Kidney Health Centre. PAG has also supported the Wascana Rehab Centre Volunteers’ Association, the Saskatchewan Lung Association, and the Trans-Canada Trail, which the Guild became involved with after David Butt did a series of paintings depicting the trail that he then donated to the Great Plains Trans Canada Trail Association.

Today, the Prairie Artists’ Guild has about 35 regular members in addition to a number of associate members. Its mission involves providing a space for artists to interact, work together, and develop and promote their art. Members meet weekly at the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre from September to December and from February to May. Artistic development is encouraged through painting workshops held throughout the year and through use of the Guild’s resource library. Members show and sell their work at three shows per year: the Wascana Spring Show and Sale (May, in cooperation with the Aurora Artists’ Guild), the Wascana Christmas Show and Sale (November), and the Harvest of Art Show and Sale (October).

PAG welcomes beginning and experienced artists and has had members who work in a variety of mediums, including oils, acrylics, watercolour, pastels, ink, scratchboard, mixed media, and pencil.

Brushworks Art Guild

The Brushworks Art Guild of Regina was formed in January of 1989 by a group of former students of art instructor Betty Robinson (nee Barbour) who wanted to continue working together following Betty’s retirement. Some of the original members included David Thompson, Olive White, Beth Gaffney, and Larry Jackson, who was the first president. Other early members included Burns Barlow, Carol Downs, Linda Fox, Michelle Reavley, and Lorie Walker. In 1993, Lucy Cobb and Bunny Beaton joined. Brushworks held their first meetings in the art room of Luther College, and in 1990, the Guild set up a bursary with the college as a means of passing on their legacy to future art students.

About 15 members participated in Brushworks Art Guild’s first show, held at the Rosemont Art Gallery. Members work in a variety of mediums, including oils, acrylics, watercolours, pencil, pastels, and ink.  

                                                                           Brushworks Art Guild show, December 2012

Describing itself today as a “self-help group” of about 30 artists, the Brushworks Art Guild meets every other Wednesday to paint, to provide critiques and encouragements to each other, and to take part in demonstrations by guest artists. The Guild holds two shows and sales per year (March and December), at the Neil Balkwell Civic Area Centre.

South Shore Artists' Guild

Regina Beach’s South Shore Artists’ Guild emerged in 1999, though the events leading to its founding began three years before. In 1996, the Regina Beach Arts and Crafts Association began fundraising for an Artist-in-Residence program; by 1998, they were successful in bringing Ward Schell and Jennifer McRorie to a studio on Regina Beach’s Centre Street. As a means of sustaining this program, those involved decided to form a guild for Regina Beach. In 1999, they held a meeting chaired by David Green and attended by artists including Sheila Berggren, Gladys Croft, Jan Exner, Audre Gilchrist, Helen Hart, Hope Hamilton, Jim Hudson, Doug Ingram, Glenn Joorisity, Wendy Joorisity, Jim Martin, Cliff Moud, Marrilynn Phipps, Frank Powick, Harry Procter, Elsie Scherle, Helen Smith, Willa Sunnucks, Sandra Topinka, Alex Tivas, Ada Iou Watson, and Emma Young. These artists drew up a constitution for the newly-created South Shore Artists’ Guild, with Glen Joorisity as president, David Green as vice-president, and Helen Smith as secretary. Joorisity resigned shortly thereafter, with Green taking over the presidency.

In the Guild’s first year, meetings were held in the basement of the Regina Beach United Church, and artists including Doug Ingram, Jim Buchan, Joan Murray and Ann Packham made special presentations to members. Their first show was held in July of 1999 in the Arts and Craft building in Regina Beach, with 32 members participating. The event’s success convinced the Guild to make the Show and Sale an annual event. In 2002, the Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre opened in Regina Beach, housing, among other things, the Elsie Scherle Gallery. The South Shore Artists’ Guild now holds both their meetings and their annual show there.

South Shore Artists’ Guild continues to be a active organization today. In addition to its show each July, the Guild is a member of the Regina Art Gallery and members show their work there at various times throughout the year. The Guild fundraises through unique community events like the Sunshine Art Festival and an event called “The Art a la Carte Dinner and Dance,” that serves art work made from food. Members meet every first Wednesday from September to November and from April to June. The Guild welcomes new members; contact 729-2282.

by NAC contributor Jessica Boyachek, with Carol J. Ward of the Aurora Artists Guild.

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