About Reading Art Association

Reading Art Association was founded in 1958 to foster the arts in Reading Massachusetts. Over the years the Association has supported the community at large by giving to the Reading Scholarship Fund, giving art books to the Reading Public Library, and providing season passes to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts for members and non-members to use. Scroll down to read more about our History

The Reading Art Association meets in the First Congregational Church of Reading on the second Wednesday of each month from September through June. See our current schedule for the details of the meetings. The church is located at 25 Woburn Street, Reading Massachusetts. Our meetings consist of demonstrations of painting technique as well as discussions of topics such as art preservation and marketing of artwork. The demonstrations and discussions are given by professional artists.

The demonstrations are held at 7:30 p.m. in Guild Hall of the First Congregational Church of Reading. The demos normally run until about 9:30 or 10:00. The door nearest Guild hall is the middle side door on Sanborn Street in Reading. To find us, follow these directions and maps to the church.

We normally request a $3.00 donation for non-members when they attend the demonstrations to help us cover our costs.

Board meetings are held at 6:30 p.m. prior to the demonstrations. All members are welcome to come to the board meetings, although voting privileges on board issues is restricted to members of the board.

Reading Art Association mounts a Spring show and a Fall show each season.

Our newsletter is called "Mixed Media". A subscription to the Mixed Media newsletter is included in the annual Association dues. You can find past issues of the Mixed Media on this web site by clicking on "Mixed Media", either here or on the front page.

History of the Reading Art Association

Now that we are approaching our 60th year as an organization, we have begun to research our history. RAA has a long and interesting history with many art shows and demonstrations. The story starts back in the 1950's when some artists who belonged to a group called the Village Associates decided to sponsor an art exhibit on the common in Reading. The show was so successful that it was carried forward through the years, right up to the current day as the Reading Art Association Spring Show. While the show is no longer staged outside on the common, the response to the art is just as fine now as it was back then.

You can read about our history by downloading the PDF file. Click on the link below to download the file. Please be patient with the download. Due to the large number of images, the file is large (~94 MB).

A Brief History of the RAA

This is a work in progress.
Please check back later for updates.

Here is a brief summary of some of the information you will find in the document above.

In the fall of 1959, a group of artists met at the home of Elizabeth Lautzenheiser, and the Reading Art Association was born. Located at convenient distance north of Boston, and only a 45-minute drive from the Cape Ann artist colonies Reading had even then a solid nucleus of Professional Artists and a strong tradition of interest in Art and Crafts.

For many years a group of citizens called the Village Associates had exhibited Antiques, paintings, and Crafts, in Reading. After a particularly successful outdoor show, the Artists were so encouraged by the response of the public that they began to plan an organization for Painters and Sculptors.

The group's purpose at its inception was to promote and foster the Arts in Reading,, and the decision was made that the organization would be open to all interested in Art. Therefore, they rejected the exclusive system of juried membership.

Eventually a formal charter was drawn up with a statement of the aims of the group by Mrs. Lautzenheiser and signed by all 17 charter members: Tad Klodnicki, Mary Herrick, Janet Ullrich, Barbara Herric, Doris Driscol, John Bernard, Arthur C. Knapp, Arthur E. Knapp, Robert Cowan, Katherine Brown, Charlotte Brown, Fred Peters, Ellen Nelson, Nathalie Nordstrand, Dorothy Somers, Barbara Blanchard, and James Russell.

Their original concept is embodied in the statement that is always printed on the yearly program of events:

"The purpose of the organization is to create and extend throughout the Community an environment for the advancement of Fine Arts through education, demonstration, exhibitions, and other activities." It's implementation throughout the years has evolved into an integral part of Reading's social fabric. The annual gift to the Scholarship fund, and its support of the campaign to repair the Parker Tavern, the use of the Community Center for meetings and demonstrations and the gift of art and books to the Reading Library all became threads intricately interwoven with the history of the growing town.

Many fondly recall the Annual Art Auction with Bill Willson and Bob Ullrich as auctioneers. The auction has since been replaced in recent years by the Small Treasures Sale as the fund raising event.

In the 60's the decision to have an annual outdoor show on the Reading Common proved so popular with the public that the merchants now schedule a sidewalk sale, and the library a book sale on the same day. Held on the first Saturday in June, this outdoor show exhibits both RAA members and guest artists from the area. The addition of a Fall Show to the program began the same year, when Addison Wesley Company offered the use of its building for the two-day show. Members only may exhibit at this show, and the music provided by the Reading Symphony String Quartet has long been a pleasant addition.

Late in the sixties the group was incorporated as Reading Art Association Inc. The organization continued to grow and prosper under the dedicated leadership of the following presidents, several of whom served more than one term of office: Arthur C. Knapp, Robert Cowan, John Bernard, Arthur E. Knapp, Tom Burbine, Kenneth Wilson, Brenden Riley, Herbert Perry, Daniel Willaimson, Beverly DeMont, and don Norris.

Today, the RAA has a membership of 300, almost evenly divided between professional artists, semi-professionals, and those who paint for the pure joy of it. There are many Associates and sponsor members who do not paint, but enjoy the demonstrations, exhibits and camaraderie of those with similar interests.

The enthusiasm of its membership and the quality of the artists who demonstrate at the monthly meetings has drawn member artists from places as near as Wilmington and Wakefield to as far away as Worcester, Lawrence, southern New Hampshire, and Maine. Many of our demonstrators are nationally known; i.e. Tom Nicholas, Paul Strisik, Margaret Fitzhugh Brown, Emil Gruppe, John Pellew, and Don Stone.

For twenty-five years, the RAA has been faithful to the aims of its founders -- its teachers, and demonstrators, hardworking board members, enthusiastic artists and patrons have combined in an extraordinary expression of artistic communication.

Our thanks to all of them.......

We wish to express our gratitude to the firm of Addison-Wesley for their cooperation over the years, and also our thanks to the Congregational Church, the Old South Methodist Church and the Masonic Hall for their assistance in allowing us to exhibit.

We also wish to express our appreciation to American Mutual Insurance Company, Wakefield whose yearly calendar contest and art show has greatly benefited artists in the North Suburban Area.

Thank you to volunteers Nancy Natale and Nancy Smethurst for their typing efforts in preparing the entry forms and letters and the program material.

Finally, our sincere thanks to the Town of Reading -- its Selectmen, Merchants and Citizens for their support of the last 25 years.

June, 1984

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Last updated January 27, 2018