Welcome to the home
page for the Art
Guild of Middletown in Middletown, Connecticut.
Please feel free
to browse through our site and learn more about us.
This page describes
the the history and mission of the Middletown Art Guild.
Featured Artwork by Member Artist: Gwen Clark
To foster and encourage art and the development of the visual artists in the
Middletown, Connecticut, area by:
a) developing quality PROGRAMS to bring artists together;
b) providing venues for the artists to EXHIBIT their work;
c) providing ART INSTRUCTION and workshops in drawing and painting and related visual arts.
How the Middletown Art Guild serves Middletown and the
The Middletown Art Guild serves the Middletown area by continuing to offer
excellence in art instruction, programs, and exhibition opportunities. We bring together a
diverse group of people, both amateur and professional, senior citizens and young adults,
who have a passion for the arts. Our members have developed many strong and lasting
friendships around their common interest. We support one another in learning new techniques
and encourage one another in our artistic endeavors. Some members who have taken
classes and become more proficient artists through their association with the
Middletown Art Guild are now teaching in adult education programs and senior
citizens groups. Another small group meets regularly on their own for plein air painting.
The population we serve may overlap with other arts groups, but we feel our contribution is unique.
We hope to continue to offer our excellent programs, classes and exhibition opportunities
to serve an ever-growing population.
Highlights of Our Organization
The Middletown Art Guild offers:
- Eight guest artist demonstrations a year
- Class instruction in a variety of mediums
- Several special workshops lasting one or several days each
- Group member shows/exhibits every
- Rotating individual exhibits
lasting a month or more at five different
Members exhibit their work throughout the Middletown area at libraries, a
a dental office, The Village at South Farms, Luther Ridge, and other locations.
Depending on the location, members commit to showing
their work for a month or more.
The Guild presents a June members show at Wesleyan University.
Classes meet for six-week blocks; guest artist demonstrations meet for a couple of hours,
one evening a month, for most months of the year. Workshops are generally one Saturday
session per workshop. Class and workshop sizes are, on average, about 10 people,
and demo presentations attract 25-50 persons.
History of the Art Guild
In the late 1940s, a small group of Wesleyan faculty wives, led by Wesleyan biology professor
Jean Cochrane, started The River Valley Art Guild (RVAG). The people who started the Guild
had been members of the Wesleyan Potters which, at that time, had still not left the Wesleyan campus.
The Potters were and are crafts-oriented: the Guild members wanted the focus to be fine art.
The RVAG met for several years in the basement of the Honor's College at Wesleyan, where
Wesleyan art teachers John Frazer and Jim Guy taught life drawing and painting lessons.
Then Wesleyan decided that they needed the space for other things, and the RVAG
had to find another venue.
This was the start of many, many moves and some name changes for the group over the years,
ending up currently at the Middlefield Federated Church Ed (again) in Middlefield.
The Guild could more correctly and affectionately be called the "Art Gypsies of Middletown"!
Classes were the focus in the early RVAG years, but almost no attempt was made to exhibit.
Because of this, Carol Beinhorn, who was not a member of the RVAG, started another group
called the Middletown Art Association (MAA). The MAA offered no classes, but organized several
exhibits a year. John Bickford and his architect wife, Anne, belonged to both groups and, because
they didn't say "No," eventually were elected to head both, Anne as the President of the RVAG,
and John as President of the MAA. John and Anne were going to too many meetings and
overlapping programs, so in 1972 decided to merge the two groups as the
Art Guild of Middletown, CT. offering classes and sponsoring exhibits.