Highlights of Our Organization
The Art Guild of Middletown offers:
- Four guest artist demonstrations a year
- Class instruction in a variety of mediums
- Special workshops
- Annual Members-Only Exhibition at Mary Flood Room, Portland Library
- Juried exhibition at Wesleyan University Zilkha Gallery open to member and non-member artists
- Collaborations with other art groups to bring quality artists to the area
- Art Bus Events
You don’t have to be an artist to enjoy membership in the Guild! It is exciting as a non-artist to watch the artists create their works.
You don’t have to be able to “draw a straight line” to learn to draw or paint… There are so many opportunities to take lessons!
You don’t even have to aspire to be a professional! Art can be a wonderfully relaxing hobby.
Come see what we do!
- Demonstrations by guest artists are held on the second Thursday evening of September, November, March, and May
- Workshops are generally a full day Saturday
- Classes meet for six-week blocks. Class and workshop sizes are, on average, about 10 people
To foster and encourage art education and the development of visual artists and supporters of the Arts by offering quality programs that bring together, provide venues for exhibition and provide Art instruction, workshops, and other art-related ventures.
How Art Guild of Middletown Serves Middletown and the Surrounding Community
Art Guild of Middletown offers excellence in art instruction, programs, and exhibition opportunities. We bring together a diverse group of people – amateur and professional artists, art lovers who may not be artists but enjoy what the Guild offers and enjoy continuing to learn about art and meeting new people who also have a passion for art.
As members, we support and encourage one another in our love for art and our artistic endeavors. The population we serve may overlap with other arts groups, but we feel our contribution is unique.
We hope to continue to offer our excellent programs, classes and exhibition opportunities to serve an ever-growing population.
History of the Art Guild of Middletown
In the late 1940s, a small group of Wesleyan faculty wives, led by Wesleyan biology professor Jean Cochrane, started The River Valley Art Guild (RVAG). The people who started the Guild had been members of the Wesleyan Potters which, at that time, had still not left the Wesleyan campus.
The Potters were and are crafts-oriented: the Guild members wanted the focus to be fine art. The RVAG met for several years in the basement of the Honor’s College at Wesleyan, where Wesleyan art teachers John Frazer and Jim Guy taught life drawing and painting lessons. Then Wesleyan decided that they needed the space for other things, and the RVAG had to find another venue.
This was the start of many, many moves and some name changes for the group over the years, ending up currently at the Woodside Intermediate School, 30 Woodside Road, in Cromwell, Connecticut. The Guild could more correctly and affectionately be called the “Art Gypsies of Middletown!” Classes were the focus in the early RVAG years, but almost no attempt was made to exhibit. Because of this, Carol Beinhorn, who was not a member of the RVAG, started another group called the Middletown Art Association (MAA). The MAA offered no classes but organized several exhibits a year. John Bickford and his architect wife, Anne, belonged to both groups and, because they didn’t say “no,” eventually were elected to head both, Anne as the President of the RVAG, and John as President of the MAA. John and Anne were going to too many meetings and overlapping programs, so in 1972 decided to merge the two groups as the Art Guild of Middletown, Connecticut offering classes and sponsoring exhibits.