The mission of the Art League is to function as an agent for the artistic experience. The Santa Cruz Art League encourages visual and performing arts in an environment that is supportive to the artist, to students, and to the community. Approximately twelve art shows are held each year, some for members, some juried, and some invitational. We hold three-hour, five- to six-week long classes and monthly weekend workshops throughout the year, as well as children's theater classes, theater productions, and monthly book readings and signings by local authors.
The Santa Cruz Art League was founded in 1919 by eleven landscape artists yearning for a place to meet in order to share their art, to teach, and to motivate one another.
In 1885, many of these same people had started the first local art gallery and classes. Beginning in 1923, the second president lived in the basement of the local library and managed the property in exchange for exhibition space for the Art League on the walls of the city-owned building. The Art League was evicted in 1947 and the members recognized the need for artists to have a gallery owned by themselves.
SCAL incorporated as a nonprofit in 1949 and bought a piece of property over a sinkhole resulting from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The dedicated members raised money for a building by having clothesline art sales, benefit teas, card parties, and by selling the individual bricks of the building. The current building was opened to the public in 1951. Until then, the Art League had exhibitions at other venues, always staying in front of tourists' eyes.
The annual Statewide Exhibition, which recently completed its 75th annual show at the SCAL gallery, used to be held in conjunction with the Miss California pageant at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and later at Treasure Island in San Francisco.
During the depression of the 1930's, SCAL was one of the few galleries continuing to offer cash prizes. In the years 1951-1983, the Art League housed a well-known tourist destination, The Last Supper, a life-sized sculpture produced by a celebrated ceramist and a local wax sculptor.
Membership in SCAL has fluctuated throughout its recent history, from a low of 200 in the 1970's because of restrictions against "modernists" to a high of 800 during the "dot com" years of the late 1990's.
For almost 100 years, the Santa Cruz Art League has bent and swayed and adapted to the times. It is a membership organization open to anyone.
Board of Directors
Valéria ("Val") Miranda, MBA, Executive Director
Doreen Davis, Administrative Director
Keelin Sabel, Exhibition Coordinator
Audrey Takeshta, Marketing Coordinator
Bella Frye, Weekend Staff