Art & Artists in Exhibition: Vancouver 1890 - 1950
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Vancouver Arts and Crafts Association

1900 - 1912

The Vancouver Arts and Crafts Association was founded in April 1900, as described in a short notice in The Canadian Architect and Builder.

A handwritten Minute Book on file at the Vancouver City Archives describes the initial meeting:

Vancouver BC April 6th (1900)
   On this day a meeting was held in the rooms of the Vancouver Art Workers Guild in the Le Fevre Block to discuss the formation of a Society of Arts and Crafts. There were present: H.J. De Forest, Mr. Herman Alpen, Mr. Gardner (?), Mr. Thurston (?), Mr. Amos Woodroofe, Mr. R. Mackey Fripp and Mr. Jas Bloomfield.
   By request Mr. Fripp adressed the meeting and described the operation of such a society and also the manner in which such a society might be formed.
   Mr. Bloomfield was nominated to meet Mr. Fripp at his residence on behalf of the Art Worker Guild - on Monday evening the 9th inst. - to further discuss the matter - and to draft a rough constitution for the Society - to be submitted for further discussion and amendment prior to a general public meeting being called.
   The meeting then adjourned till Tuesday evening the 10th at 7:30 p.m. in rooms of Art Workers Guild.
     C.E. Bloomfield
     Secretary, per tem

  

  
Exhibition of Members' Work at O'Brien Hall, July 1900


Catalogue cover for the First Annual Exhibition

The Association held its first exhibition in July 1900, at the O'Brien Hall. It was show of work by members of the group, and perhaps a rehearsal for upcoming shows. The group put on annual exhibitions in 1900 and in 1901. The two annual exhibitions were reviewed in The Canadian Architect and Builder, by an unnamed western correspondent who sent a series of articles to the magazine under the heading of British Columbia Letters. The letters mainly dealt with the architecture of Vancouver, but also included information on the arts and crafts on the West Coast. The letters provide a rare glimpse of the arts in Vancouver at the beginning of the 20th century. Volume 13, Issue 12, of 1900, reviewed the First Annual Exhibition in letter number IV. The exhibition was held at the Alhambra Hall. The Second Annual Exhibition was held in the Fairfield Block, and was reviewed in Volume 14, Issue 8 in letter number VII.

However, the articles apparently raised the ire of at least one artist who had been reviewed less than kindly by the anonymous reviewer, and another entry in the the Society's Minute book records Thomas Mower Martin's resignation from the society, presumably in response to the critical review of his artwork. The entry also identifies the anonymous writer as the President of the Arts & Crafts Society at the time, apparently R. Mackay Fripp (prior to Will Ferris).

February 22, 1901
   Resignation of Mr. Mower Martin read and discussed at length. At a critical point the President vacated the Chair - taken by Mr. Eveleigh V.P. and after further expression of views on the cause of Mr. Martin's resignation - viz. the writing of the Artist published in the Canadian Architect and Builder - the President - having left the chair then - stated he had no intention of hurting any members feelings when he wrote the article in question and regrets that it should have had such an undesired effect. A resolution was then passed as under this Executive is of the opinion that no member of this Association should criticize work by fellow members in a public paper or magazine.
   Moved by Mr. Fripp - Seconded by Mr. De Forest and Carried unanimously.
   The Secretary was then instructed to reply to Mr. Mower Martin embodying the above resolution and the meeting adjourned at the call of the new Secretary. General Meeting to be held on March 4th as per Constitution.
      Confirmed, Will Ferris, President, Vancouver March 12th.
      C.E. Bloomfield, Secretary


Art Union ticket for Second Annual Exhibition

This ticket is interesting because the Association has added "of B.C." to their name, an indication of early plans for a Provincial artist's association.


Entry ticket to Second Annual Exhibition

Although the Association got off to a good start, it did not seem to catch the public's attention in any great way. B.C.Letter VII noted regarding the second annual exhibition that " ... such a collection remaining open to the public for seven days, attracted an average attendance of 30 per diem. A nigger minstrel show would have drawn five hundred."

In any case, the Association would soon see competition from the Vancouver Studio Club, Vancouver Sketch Club, B.C. Society of Fine Arts, Island Arts & Crafts Society, among others, and slowly faded out of existence.


Exhibitions

DATE TITLE
1900 July 11 Exhibition of Members' Work
1900 September 25-27 First Annual
1901 June 28 - July 5 Second Annual

References

Vancouver Arts & Crafts Association fond, Vancouver City Archives
Association Minute Book, Add. MSS. No. 142

Clippings

"British Columbia Letters, No. III"
      The Canadian Architect and Builder, 1900

"British Columbia Letters, No. IV"
      The Canadian Architect and Builder, Vol. 13, Issue 12, 1900

"British Columbia Letters, No. VII"
      The Canadian Architect and Builder, Vol. 14, Issue 8, 1901


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