by Blake Herzog
As the galleries on Whiskey Row and around Courthouse Plaza rightfully bolster Prescott’s reputation as a hub for fine visual art, the Mountain Artists Guild a couple blocks north at 228 N. Alarcon St. is the longtime foundation of the area’s artistic community.
Formed in 1949 by renowned Prescott sculptor and painter George Phippen and three female artists, today it has about 300 members.
The 501(c)(3) nonprofit has been using exhibits, two annual art shows, demonstrations, youth classes, workshops and its galleries to broaden opportunities for artists and residents of all ages and skill levels.
The next year it became the first nonprofit organization to hold fundraising events on Courthouse Plaza and hasn’t stopped since — the Mother’s Day Fine Arts Festival with more than 100 exhibitors is coming up May 13-14, and the equally large Fine Art and Wine Festival is set for Aug. 5-6.
Guild Executive Director Andre Lewis says the proceeds go toward numerous activities, including art lessons for kids:
“Several times a year we’ll have a youth program that runs for about five weeks, and those programs are for ages 6 to 11 and 11 to 14. And students can be ‘scholarshipped’ into those classes, meaning they wouldn’t have to pay, which means right now about $100.
“We give them scholarships based on how the committee votes, it’s not a financial thing, it’s whether we have the money.”
The guild has in the past awarded college scholarships of up to $1,000 to high school students, he adds, but is not currently able to because of budget constraints. Over the years the guild has prioritized reaching out to veterans as well and twice a month offers free classes and supplies for vets at any skill level.
It also provides two to three “open studio” periods per week when, for a fee, anyone in the community can drop in and hone their skills in a particular genre or medium.
Guild members work in virtually every visual art medium, including oils, watercolor, drawing, sculpture, jewelry, metalwork, glass, ceramics, mixed media and photography.
For a fee of usually $70 a year, members benefit from discounted entry fees for exhibits, shows, open studios and workshops, can list their website on www.mountainartistsguild.org, hold solo shows in the guild’s two smaller “spotlight” galleries and network with other artists. They also volunteer their time.
Six exhibits are held annually in the guild’s main gallery, Wild and Wonderful will be on display through May 5, to be followed by Colors of the West May 10.
Anyone who would like to join the Mountain Artists Guild or learn more about its gallery, classes and events can visit the website, call 928.445.2510 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.