The Lexington Arts & Crafts Society is a 501(c)(3) non-profit regional education center dedicated to the preservation and promotion of excellence in both the traditional and contemporary arts and crafts.
We were founded in 1935 when a group of artists and crafts-persons met and drew up a constitution with the objective "to foster in the community a more active interest in the arts and crafts and to encourage higher artistic standards in the arts and handicrafts".
In 1953, the Society was incorporated as a non-profit organization. For nearly twenty years after its founding, the Society carried on its activities in members' homes and in various public buildings in Lexington.
Then, in 1953, the Society broke ground for its own building at 130 Waltham Street. Designed by a fellow member, Marjorie Pierce, this art center was built entirely through the efforts of Society members. The building was dedicated the next year, and the first exhibit and fair were held. Additions to the building were constructed in 1965 and 1973. ..
Read more about specific years using the links below:
1935 - 1946
1946 - 1954
1954 - 1960
1960 - 1984
1984 - Present
Guilds as of 2010 – The Society’s 75th Anniversary
Guilds as of 2010 – The Society’s 75th Anniversary
The Painter’s Guild, one of the original guilds, has exhibited their paintings all over town throughout the years. In 1959, they helped commemorate Patriot’s day by exhibiting all over town at historic points of interest, the Mason’s hollow area and the Lexington Center. They have also historically had one of the more active and largest guilds with multiple classes, demonstrations and historically outdoor exhibitions each year. For the year ending 1964 they had 141 members; as of 2009, they had 81 members. The Painters Guild presents monthly demonstrations by professional, award-winning, locally and nationally known artists. These painters provide informative and inspiring demonstrations in their chosen medium. It is a wonderful opportunity to watch, learn, question, and speak with the artists at demonstrations that are free and the Public is welcome to all sessions.
The Potters, now known as the Ceramics Guild, also one of the founding guilds has remained strong and grown in spite of their need to limit membership due to their space and facilities. However, this is one of the two guilds (the other being woodworkers’) where you can still often see lights on in their studio most evenings. They are almost always the top selling guild at the Society sales events and they are active in teaching the next generation of ceramicists. Their membership has been stable at about 35 members and there is a waiting list. The Ceramics’ Guild artists have interests from primitive firing methods to cone ten reduction work; from hand building to wheel throwing; from terra cotta to porcelain. Their studio consists of three rooms. The main room has eight potter’s wheels, shelving, sinks and counters space, a large table for hand building, a slab roller, an extruder, a wedging table, glazes, glazing counter and each member is assigned a bin for personal storage. The glaze lab contains chemicals, formulas and a Spray Booth. There is a kiln room with shelving for all phases of work, three electric kilns and a large Brookfield Gas Kiln, which is propane fueled. Behind the building outside, there is also a propane fueled Raku kiln.
The Woodworkers’ have always been strong in both numbers and sales throughout the years. Townspeople, guests and Society members are in awe of the beautiful bowls, boxes, cutting boards, pens, and even humidors that they produce for sales and artistic displays. A group of woodworkers’ have annually for a number of years taken it upon themselves to help Santa each year by designing and making wooden toys to be sold at the Holiday Marketplace. These sell quickly and are admired by all. Their numbers have grown to 70 in 2009.
The Metal workers continue to amaze with their silver, gold and copper jewelry often laced with stones, jewels, glass beads, epoxy, enamel or dichroic glass. Where else can local residents buy and admire one of a piece items handcrafted of precious metals and stones for such reasonable prices? They have remained fairly constant at about 30 members through the last ten years. As of 2009, they officially had 29 members. Visitors are often amazed by the fully equipped studio with multiple kilns, soldering booths; flex shafts, two rolling mills, a hydraulic press, tumbler, polishing stations, and many stakes, hammers, and other tools.
The Basketry Guild was formed in 1998 with ten charter members. They meet monthly on the first Saturday at 10:00 a.m. to transact necessary business, to weave and to learn from one another. Their purpose is to foster interest in basketry, to share their skills and enthusiasm, and to support LACS, which provides space and the ability to pursue their craft. They sponsor workshops, open to the public and taught by nationally and internationally recognized basket makers. Their workshop media have included reed, metal, black ash, willow, natural materials, Nantucket and painted paper. In addition they hold small, Guild only, classes taught by our own talented members. Seeing some of their useful and beautiful baskets at markets make us all wonder, how on earth they do that. Most Society members and local residents have one or more of these wonderful artists’ baskets in our own homes. From ten at their start, the Basket makers now have 12 in their guild as of 2009.
The Needle Arts Guild formerly called the Needleworkers’ Guild has been thriving due to the commitment and energy of a number of their members who created “swaps” and Saturday needle working get togethers. Their membership has grown to 23 in 2009, which was the second year in a row that they were the second top selling guild (next to the Ceramics’ Guild) with their products at the Holiday Marketplace.
The Decorative Arts Guild exists to stimulate interest in working in the decorative arts and to aim for as high a standard as possible. Membership gives one a chance to meet with other decorative artists to exchange ideas and develop friendships. Their artistic masterpieces range from beautiful New England landscapes on wood, metal, stone and slate as well as other materials; to wonderfully whimsical snowmen enjoying the holiday season. They paint on tiles, boxes, birdhouses, trays, mirrors, and almost anything they can find turning the common into unique pieces of art. They generally meet on Fridays in the metal workers’ studio to practice their craft and to share their knowledge and experience. Their membership numbers 11 as of 2009.
The Weavers Guild produces some of the most beautifully designed and loomed garments with unusual care and originality. This craft, older than many, is kept alive by a membership of 17 as of 2009 and a room full of looms of all sizes and capacity. Any Society member or local resident would be proud to own a hand loomed shawl, table cloth or place mats made by these artists.
Our newest guild, the Polymer Clay Guild continues to push the contemporary use of a fairly new, unbelievable flexible and interesting medium with members creating everything from jewelry to pens and purses with polymer clay. They can make and bake this material into rocks and dragons, make it look like bone, and make complicated and intricate designs with multiple colors and shapes. It seems to have endless possibilities in their talented and gifted hands and tools. We are glad they are with us; their members totaled 12 as of the end of 2009.
As the Society celebrates their 75th Anniversary, it comes with tremendous admiration for those artists who years ago had a vision of a place artists could gather, to work, inspire one another and keep the crafts alive. In 2010 the Society now has a growing Internet presence, a “Back Door Gallery”/Art Nook, which features a sampling of works from members of the various guilds available for sale year-round, and is vibrant and active with 373 artists and members, many in the building daily. Our 75th Anniversary also comes with the knowledge that not all guilds have survived through the years and we are continually aware of the need to draw new artists; those working in new, modern mediums in addition to making sure the past crafts continue to be taught and valued in the coming years. It also comes with the realization that increasing costs of energy and an aging building present multiple challenges for a volunteer organization, most of whom wish to simply practice their craft. It is with hope and optimism that we face the next 25 years of keeping the arts and crafts alive, but also knowing we will face greater economic challenges than we have ever faced before.
Happy 75th Anniversary Lexington Arts and Crafts Society! A gift from past visionary artists with the energy and creative spirit of those involved today; may she endeavor to support the arts and crafts of yesterday, today and tomorrow.
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