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August 6, 2008 > History: Concerning the Arts

History: Concerning the Arts

The 1904 edition of the History of Washington Township has no mention of local artists but does mention the prominence of Miss Sybil Easterday in sculpture. The 1950 edition notes that Ethel Grau "has for many years taken an active part in art circles" and that she was a founder of the Hayward Art Association. Grau was versatile in all art forms but preferred water colors. She was a charter member of the Arts and Crafts Guild of Washington Township.

Ethel Grau's water colors were featured at a meeting of the Arts and Crafts Guild of Washington Township in 1934. Supporters of the Guild included Gladys Williamson, Marjorie Griffin, Wesley Gordon, Mrs. J. E. Thane and Mrs. Norman Parks. Ethel was featured as "Woman of the Week" by the local paper in 1965.

The Country Club of Washington Township organized a Literary Section about 1930. Later the group became the Drama Section, then the Home Arts Section and in 1947, formed an Art Appreciation Section. The new group whose charter members were Mrs. Jack Rees, Mrs. Roland Bendel, Mrs. W. F. Lamoreux, Mrs. Tom Robbins, Mrs. L. S. Williams, Mrs. Lawrence Thatcher, Mrs. John Whipple, Mrs. Edith Mackintosh, and Mrs. L. R. Batman decided to limit membership to 25.

The Fremont Art Association was founded in 1959 to "foster, promote, and encourage the production, cultivation, and appreciation of art." Members include "artists and other supporters of the local artist community." The Association sponsored an outdoor art show in the Glenmoor Shopping Center Mall in 1961. It currently operates a gallery in Niles and sponsors several events during the year.

Ivar and Evangeline Johnson promoted the Art Association's Hub Show in 1962 and supported it for many years. Evangeline started teaching art in 1972 and continued to organize the Hub show. In 1983, the Chamber of Commerce began sponsoring the art and wine festival which has since grown into a huge production.

Newark held its first art festival at the Lido Faire Mall in 1965. Some 300 entries by local artists were featured.

Olive Hyde donated property on the corner of Washington Boulevard that became the home of the Olive Hyde Art Guild which incorporated in 1972. The Guild supports the art gallery at that location which has gained fame as a showcase for Bay Area artists.

Alice Ebright created mosaic scenes to tell the story of Fremont. Several of these creations were displayed in the International Kitchen restaurant but lost when that building burned in 1960. Several other mosaics are preserved in the Museum of Local History. She also created a tile mosaic city seal for the city council chambers in 1969.

Fremont's Cultural Arts Federation was founded in 1967. The first directors were Francis Nicholson, Dr. Charles Ruth, Lois Lundquist, Gary Archer, Mary Alice van Doorn, Jan Cobble and Ruth Hill. By-laws and a constitution for the Fremont Cultural Arts Committee were prepared by 1970 and the City Council recognized this organization as its voice for cultural arts.

Doris Green joined the board in 1970 and became president in April 1981. That same year, Jan Michelsen edited the first newsletter which in 1982 became known as "The Fremont Focus." Doris has been the editor for 28 years. The Fremont Cultural Arts Council (FCAC) has sponsored many artistic events through the years and has been heavily involved with the search for a Fremont cultural arts facility. Among FCAC's many loyal supporters is Dick McKay who was president for 16 years. The current president is Margaret Thornberry. A recent project was the publication of "Art in Public Places, Fremont" with research and photographs by Margaret Talt and her son Jim.

Hal Booth came in 1961, taught art classes and put on special workshops. He also produced the cover to the book Two Centuries at Mission San Jose. Nancy Pratt also created original art for the Mission San Jose book but is renowned for her historical murals displayed in many public places and in private collections around the world.

Today there are many local galleries, exhibits, and organizations supporting the arts. The alphabetical telephone index lists a number of art categories including galleries, organizations, schools, suppliers and dealers. Special productions include: Roving Artists, Art in the Park, the Niles Art Walk, the Open Studios Program, Fremont Festival of the Arts, Art and Aging, classes, workshops, galleries and exhibits of Olive Hyde, local schools and other businesses and organizations. Our community is certainly concerned with the arts.

We are indebted to the many local artists who expand our understanding and appreciation of art, helping us see the world around us from a different perspective and enriching our lives.

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