Steeped in rich Southern charm and tradition, The Art Club of McKinney celebrated its Centennial Anniversary this fall, having the honor and distinction of being the oldest art club in Texas.

On Nov. 14, 1914, several progressive McKinney women gathered at the home of Mrs. I.E. Reeves, to discuss the formation of the city's first art club, in hopes of expanding education and culture in their town. Mrs. Reeves was elected president, Mrs. Thomas E. Craig secretary, Mrs. George Wilcox vice-president, Mrs. Thomas E. Craig secretary, and Mrs. Finch temporary chairman. Other members present were Mrs. W.L. Boyd, Mrs. Henry A. Finch, Mrs, Roy L. Largent and Miss Margaret Erwin.

Club historian Lou Nell Spurrier reminiscing the early years.

Club historian Lou Nell Spurrier reminiscing the early years.

All photos courtesy of
The Art Club of McKinney

 

The ladies established their constitution and by-laws during the December meeting, and created the "Current Event Art Club." The Texas Blue Bonnet was chosen as the club flower, and "True art endures forever and the true artist delights in the works of great minds," became the motto.

As the club expanded, so did the diversity of the membership and community involvement. Two Collin County artists, Mr. Frank Klepper and Mr. Perry Barlow, were awarded an honorary membership, with Mr. Klepper becoming an active and enthusiastic member between 1920-1930. As the years progressed , so did the diversity of study, programs, and community activism. In 1922, the club's name was shortened to "The Art Club," but their commitment expanded as they participated in many service, artistic, cultural, and civic projects.

During both World War I and II, the Great Depression, and other difficult years, the club continued meeting and studying when other clubs disbanded. These stalwart members volunteered endless hours supporting local charities, the Red Cross, USO facilities, area hospitals, schools, and local businesses.

 

 

Kathryn (Katie) Heard Craig was one of the original founders of the The Art Club of McKinney in 1914, serving as secretary, president, and other positions during her lifetime. Mrs. Craig later created a trust, insuring that her beloved family home would become a permanent meeting place for McKinney women's organizations. Since 1971, The Heard-Craig House continues to provide social and educational opportunities.

Toni Andrukaitis and Sherry Joplin demonstrating decorative painting.

Toni Andrukaitis and Sherry Joplin demonstrating decorative painting.

 

Longtime McKinney resident, teacher, Art Club member and historian, Lou Nell Spurrier, has been active in the club for over forty years, and has witnessed many changes. "During the 50's and 60's, the meetings were not only educational, but also social events where ladies dressed formally, with hats and white gloves." She went on to explain that “Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.”

— Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

The meetings were more like classroom lectures. "We met in member's homes and studied dozens of artist. Everyone participated, taking turns preparing lesson plans, and giving presentations to the group."

During my interview with Miss Lou Nell, she reminisced about the small town atmosphere and closeness of the women's church groups and clubs during McKinney's early days. "If a mother was sick, neighbors would go over and take care of the children, provide meals and help with chores." Her eyes brightened as she shared her stories and fond memories. "Everyone looked out for one another. I miss that."

With today's fast-paced lifestyle, people don't always know their neighbors or get involved. For one hundred years, The Art Club of McKinney continues to support education, altruism, and that feeling of closeness. They sponsor the annual Collin County Adult and Student Art Shows every Spring, provide monetary awards to talented artists, and make donations to local charities. Club members have generously volunteered their time and talents over the years.

Past Art Club presidents and members (from left), Carol Kovacs, Nancy Alexander and Gail McLaughlin with guest speaker Carolyn Skei.

Past Art Club presidents and members (from left), Carol Kovacs, Nancy Alexander and Gail McLaughlin with guest speaker Carolyn Skei.

The Art Club of McKinney hosted their Centennial Celebration Nov. 8-9 at the Heard-Craig Hall located in Historic Downtown McKinney at 306 North Church Street. Local dignitaries, speakers, artists, and guests were invited to share a weekend of art demonstrations, lectures, and rich McKinney tradition.

For more information about The Art Club, please visit theartclubofmckinney.com or call 972-569-6909.

 

About The Art Club of McKinney

The Art Club of McKinney meets monthly from August to May on the second Thursday of the month. There is a business meeting at 9:30 a.m., followed by the program at 10 a.m. The meeting is held at the Heard-Craig Gallery, 306 North Church Street in McKinney (park in back of building and enter there). Annual dues are $25 for one member, and $10 for each additional household member. Include a completed membership form for each household member. Annual dues should be paid by the first regular meeting in August. For more information, email contact@theartclubmckinney.com or visit theartclubmckinney.com.