To encourage and develop an interest in the visual arts;
to provide opportunities for education through classroom instruction, workshops, lectures and publications;
to support interaction within the community and
to provide a venue for members and non-members to exhibit their work in a gallery setting.
York Art Association began in 1905 when three visual artists and several businessmen came together to exchange views and interests. Called The York Art Club, they met regularly in homes and then meeting places, eventually renting space to hold meetings, drawing sessions and exhibits. Over the years the club moved to several different venues in York.
In the 1930’s the first Annual Spring and Fall Members’ Exhibits were established. They also held masquerade Beaus Arts Balls. Interestingly, the York Art Association has a collection of drawing casts from this period. They were made by artists employed by one of the programs during President Roosevelt’s New Deal.
The York Art Club continued to thrive through the 1940’s and 1950’s increasing in membership and adding more exhibits and programming of interest to their schedule.
It is not clear when, but at some point the York Art Club decided to change their name to the York Art Association. Welcoming professional, non-professional and art appreciators alike, they continued to focus on the visual fine arts bringing exhibits and arts programming to their members and the community.
In the 1960’s, during the urban flight period the York Art Association made the decision to move to a permanent location in Springettsbury Township. They mounted a capital campaign and raised funds to purchase land and construct a building specific to their needs at 220 South Marshall Street. It remains the current location of the association.
The 1970’s proved to be a very productive time in our history. The York Art Association incorporated, wrote formal by-laws, established a Board of Directors and applied for and received 501c3 non-profit status. The organization also hired its first part time employee to serve in what was then a secretarial position. In order to meet budgetary needs the art association also developed an education program offering fine art based classes taught by professional artists. The highly successful program continues today and funds almost half of the York Art Association income. In addition, the association held its first Annual Juried Exhibition. The juried exhibition serves to raise funds for the organization as well as highlight the very best in the visual arts from our region and beyond. This well-respected exhibit will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year.
The 1980’s and 1990’s saw continued growth for the organization. During this period the York Art Association received a bequest from former board member and Treasurer Kurt E. Rottler. The earnings from the $200,000.00 bequest were to be used for “Awards for Excellence in the Arts” with 20% of each year’s earnings going back into the fund to create continued growth. This allowed the York Art Association to fund all of its exhibit
awards as well as fund awards for graduating seniors from York College of Pennsylvania’s Fine Art Program. In addition the organization established a bi-annual Rottler Awards for the Arts Exhibit. Five artists are chosen from the entries each to receive a $500.00 award as well as an invitation to take part in a group exhibit the following year. Due in great part to the increased award funds and exhibits the York Art Association’s membership grew from roughly 200 members to nearly 350 in this time period.
In the 1990’s the York Art Association wrote the current mission statement as well as a mission statement for the Education Program and for the Galleries. In addition, the organization established the Sally Little Danyo Members Sales Gallery in memory of Sally Little Danyo, a devoted member who served as Hanging Committee Chair for more than twenty years.
The new century saw many changes to the organization's basic operations. The electronic age brought advances and challenges. The association went online with a website and joined social media. Communication changed from snail mail to emails, website and social media venues, the office staff hours have increased and a second part time staff was added.
The York Art Association galleries underwent renovation in the early 2000’s. Funds were raised in honor of Nancy M, Woodward, President and devoted member of the York Art Association. The main gallery was named in her memory.
During this period the York Art Association Gallery Group was established. The group operates under the auspices of the association exhibiting work throughout the community at various places of business. The program has been very successful and has a waiting list for exhibits.
The Susan Hantz Wolf Sculpture Garden was dedicated in the early 2000’s. A devoted member of the York Art Association and a Master Gardener, Susan bequeathed the sculptures from her garden to the association. Funding to establish the garden at 220 South Marshall Street was lovingly donated by Susan’s sister, Coni Wolf.
Throughout its 115 year history the York Art Association has remained focused on its simple and clear mission “to encourage and develop an interest in the visual arts”. Through its Gallery Exhibits, Education Program and special events the York Art Association continues to provide its members and the community with a place to participate, observe and appreciate the visual arts.
York Art Association is home to two galleries. The Nancy M. Woodward Gallery hosts seven exhibitions a year, including members-only exhibitions, invitationals, and the annual Open Juried Exhibition. The Sally Little Danyo Members Sales Gallery, located at the front of the Nancy M. Woodward Gallery, provides a venue for YAA members to display original artwork and prints that are for sale. Both galleries are named for members who made significant contributions of their time and talent to York Art Association. See the Galleries tab for more information.
YAA offers year-round educational opportunities. Our award-winning instructors offer a variety of classes for children and adults. YAA is also the perfect venue for active seniors to pursue long-denied creative interests. We encourage anyone, at any level, who has an interest in developing their artistic abilities to explore the opportunities available here at YAA.