Early History of the Art Guild…
On May 23rd, 1973, eight Orange Park Artists met at the Lanier Densmore Studio for the purpose of forming a multi-media art group.
These eight artists sketched out the framework for an organization known previously as the “Fine Arts Guild of Orange Park”. Every endeavor was made then as is now to live up to the “Fine Art” standards in the name. The group was comprised of a select choice of talented artists who have achieved much success with their work. Lanier Densmore, a commercial artist, designed the original logo which was updated in recent years. The corporation’s branding has gained us historic recognition for over 40 years.
The first exhibit was held October 6th and 7th in 1973 at Orange Park Town Hall. Exhibiting artists were: Cathie Anders, Valerie Boardman, Agnes Chalker, Toni Charneco, Lanier Densmore, Jerry Ellis, Joan Geyer, Courtenay Hunt, Margie Keeter, Teddie Jo Ryan, Fran Stone, Marilyn Taylor, and Martha Web. More than 300 art lovers viewed this exhibit.
The Guild has displayed, exhibited, and promoted the visual Fine Arts and other related- crafts throughout Clay County and Northeast Florida since its inception. During 1979, a revision was made to the Constitution and By-Laws opening up membership to artists throughout Clay County. In 1998, the juried membership selection requirements were dropped opening up countywide opportunities and by 1999, artists from any area could join. The Guild was incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit on April 11, 2002. Tax exempt status provided us the means to solicit donations and issue donor tax credits.
The Courtenay Hunt annual scholarship fund was established in 2003 for High School Seniors. The membership has given generously throughout the years to specially, recognized High School art students in the way of financial assistance to enrich their own pursuits in the Arts. Public Relations campaigns, Fund Raising efforts, and Community Outreach activities during 2003-2005 raised a substantial amount of capital that was set aside for future growth. These funds also contributed to a Patron level position with the Thrasher-Horne Center for the Arts. The Art Guild of Orange Park is officially recognized on an inscribed seat plaque in the main performance hall.
The Guild is a strong supporter of its members encouraging artists to express their own individuality, talents, and skills. Each member reflects a unique yet personal collaboration of interests, techniques, media applications, and experiences. Throughout the years, both professional and non-professional members, have stated that the Art Guild of Orange Park was a crucial stepping stone to the betterment of both careers and interests.
As seasons change, The Art Guild of Orange Park strives diligently to adhere to its founding principles of service. The organization’s benefits are many. In addition to our membership, we continue to meet the needs of surrounding communities, other artists, arts organizations, schools, and charitable groups. We have increased the amounts of our scholarships. We purposely seek out new ways to connect arts and culture among adults and children alike.
The Guild makes every attempt to pair generously with worthy causes. The company has monetarily donated to Seamark Ranch, Young Rembrandt’s, and other groups in need. When monetary contributions are not feasible, artist-members donate time and energy, or have offered product donations toward certain types of fund-raisers. Members often contribute artwork to organizational fundraising events, such as St Johns Country Day School, Quigley House, Kid First Network, and Lighthouse Learning Center. The Guild created and sponsored the 150th Anniversary of the Clay County Coloring Book for distribution to fourth graders. Members have served as judges and jurors for programs like the Concert on the Green Poster Contest, the150th Anniversary of the Clay County Bookmark Competition, high school art exhibits in the Orange Park Mall, and other school system-wide events.
We have a continuing presence with Carrie Clarke Day sponsored by the Orange Park Historical Society. We have assisted Middleburg Elementary for a number of years with their “Fun Fair” Day creating thousands of collage packets. In 2007 and 2008, members created a colorful “Galaxy” mural in the Technology Room of Orange Park Elementary School. The same year, members assisted Wilkinson Elementary with their school art program, and have provided over 440 hours of volunteer time at the Clay County Agricultural Fair. Former member, Lynette Woodman, left the Guild to head up the Photography and Art Exhibit at the Clay County fairgrounds and has continued this service for a great many years. Volunteers are an instrumental part for the growing success of collaborative efforts.
In 2009 the Guild took part in hosting the inaugural “Pink Ribbon Symposium” held at the Thrasher Horne Center for the arts, raising funds for Buddy Check 12 and breast cancer awareness issues. We were honored in 2008 and 2009 by the Reinhold Foundation in the Community-Arts and Culture Category. We’ve donated to the Annual Clay County Student Art Competition in the Orange Park Mall and members have also served as judges for the Clay County History Fair.
In 2009, the membership organized and staged the first annual Art & About festival in connection with Orange Park Town Hall. This was a juried event to promote the local talents of both visual artists and musicians. This project generated a variety of fun and demonstrations including KidTivities. In the summer of 2011, many citizens and passers-by gave the Guild their “thumbs up” while artists worked skillfully on the electrical boxes at Town Hall Park. In 2010 and 2012, the Guild was immensely honored to receive a Proclamation from the town council acknowledging the many years of service to our Clay County communities. Artist members have also worked with Friends of the Fleming Island Library to offer art instruction classes after school to grades K-4.
Many heart-felt challenges, opportunities, and projects have been realized in recent years by our wonderful, talented artists. Some of our latest contributions include a gallery at the Wehner’s School of the Arts, Auction-Fundraisers with St. Vincent’s, CalaVida and Fall Festival participation, Quigley House donation bags, patient events at the Isle Health and Rehabilitation Center, a subsidiary of Greystone Health (Formerly-The Terrace), the painting of Violin covers for the Orange Park Community Theatre, Mural panels at Carrie Clark Park, and so much more! To date, the group is currently comprised of about 130 members and supporters.
- Toni Charneco – Past Historian/ Charter Member (1973) (2010)
- Leslie Kruzicki – Past Historian (2010) (2014)
– Last update (2016)