The Kingsley Art Club, named for Elbridge Kingsley, artist and engraver, was organized in 1892 by a group of 15 Sacramento women seeking art education. Gone (but not forgotten) are the ladies in “good standing” and the “critic” whose job it was to correct mispronunciations or incorrect usage in the members’ discourse. Education in the arts has lasted for 130 years through quiet evolution. What exists now, in a close relationship with the Crocker Art Museum, are lectures and outreach to many audiences through in person and social media sources.
In the 1920’s The Kingsley moved out of the front parlors that lined larger homes into the E. B. Crocker Art Gallery and its educational programs evolved from discussions of art history into information about art and, in 1926, a first art competition for members. Practicing artists joined the Kingsley in those days when William F. Jackson, first director of the Crocker and practicing artist, was still in his 50-year career as director of the gallery.
The first juried Crocker-Kingsley Exhibition was held in 1940 in the Crocker Art Gallery. In the 1950’s we know that the show enticed beginning artists (including our most prominent young Kingsley winner, Wayne Thiebaud). At some point the competition became a cooperative venture of the club and the Crocker and, beginning in 2011, it became the Crocker-Kingsley at Blue Line. The club evolved as the Crocker Art Museum evolved in a growing city with new artists and a new art scene.
The Kingsley annually presents eight lectures at the Crocker Art Museum featuring Northern California speakers knowledgeable in the arts. Retrospectives of an artist’s career, emerging artists, and developments in the surrounding art communities are the topics of the programs. Occasionally, trips are organized for members to area art exhibitions, artist studios and activities in the visual arts. Some small group trips are a “look and lunch” feature for members with a visit to an exhibit at the Crocker or a venue not available to large groups.
Kingsley supports arts education in a local elementary school with volunteer docents, annual Kingsley Merit Awards honor outstanding student artists of the area’s local community colleges. High school students can enter an art exhibit of work inspired by works at the Crocker and shown in the Education Gallery.
The Pandemic Years have challenged the group to work differently. Artist studio videos are now available on line until health regulations ease. Stress and shutdowns for artists and schools created a new outreach approach to the community from the Kingsley Art Club Educations Foundation. Information about our ongoing outreach (of which we are proud) is detailed on this website.
Altogether, the club has shown resilience and adaptive skills in developing an ongoing relationship with the Crocker Art Museum and finding speakers and using spaces that enhance this community’s art scene in a unique way. We support education and opportunity in the arts for everyone. The ladies of long ago might not recognize what they started.