In 1956, a handful of intellectually curious young women sitting around a dining room table began what became Art Seminar Group. They wanted to know more about a new style of painting called Abstract Expressionism, so the group hired an art history graduate student at Johns Hopkins to meet with them and discuss the new art movement. Thus, a pattern for the future was established: engage a mentor/lecturer as a guide to help the group explore various aspects of the arts. The timing was propitious, for the 1950s signaled a period of remarkable change and growth in the art world of America. But perhaps ASG’s success and growth owes most to the personalities of the founders who shared a tremendous dedication to learning — what became, in essence, the foundation of the organization.
In the beginning there was no established leadership and duties were shared. Dues were collected as needed for lectures. Eventually, as the organization grew so did the responsibilities of those running it. Policies and by-laws were written, and the organization developed into one that supports adult art education in Baltimore.
In 1974 when the Walters Art Museum opened a new wing, the director recruited 10 ASG members for docent training. Over the decades, many more have filled this role at the Walters and at the BMA. ASG members have served as museum trustees, contributed art to these institutions and energized philanthropy in the arts.
Over half a century after its founding, the Art Seminar Group has metamorphosed into a unique Baltimore institution. Always evolving and adapting, the organization looks ahead, ever eager to excite, educate and encourage its members to open their eyes and minds to the larger cultural community in Baltimore and the wide art world beyond.
Banner image courtesy of the Walters Art Museum