For as long as I can remember, the Chatham Artists Guild has been a cultural force in my life, and I’m proud to serve on the Board of the Chatham Arts Council. With a heart for both organizations, I’m excited that beginning on October 1, we’ll celebrate one of these organizations at the home of another. The Chatham Arts Council will host a show of current Chatham Artists Guild members to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Guild.
Yes, the Guild celebrates its 25th anniversary this year as the preeminent collection of practicing visual artists in Chatham County. The Chatham Arts Council served as the incubator for the Guild for many years, and Guild Co-President Beth Goldston remembers, “After realizing as a child growing up in Chatham County that I wanted to be an artist, I was thrilled to find a thriving arts council, and a community of working artists when I moved back here twenty-two years ago. Chatham County was not only home, but had grown into a special place to live and work as an artist.”
The Guild has come a long way, transforming from a fledgling group of creative people seeking to make their passions their professions into a well-organized group bringing millions of dollars of economic impact to Chatham County through its annual studio tour. As an artist, I find it limiting to translate the creative brilliance our community possesses into economic terms, but that seems to be the modern measure of success. In those terms and in many others, the arts community in Chatham County is a tremendous success.
This success has developed over decades, thanks to talented practitioners, visionary leaders, and dedicated organizations willing to advocate their hearts out for the arts. We’ll celebrate some of those talented practitioners and the visual art they make in this upcoming exhibition.
Chatham Arts Council Executive Director Cheryl Chamblee praises the Guild’s commitment to 25 years of the Studio Tour. “In the nonprofit world, 25 years is a very long time to do anything, and the Guild does the Tour in a way that is so special for Chatham County and for all the folks who visit the Tour from outside the county. The NC Arts Council calls Chatham County ‘an arts goldmine,’ and the visual artists of the Guild are a huge part of that.”
While the Chatham Arts Council and the Chatham Artists Guild are separate organizations, they share a passion for promoting the arts in Chatham County. The two groups work in concert to bring cultural opportunities to the area, while serving very different roles.
The Chatham Arts Council focuses on two major objectives in a wide array of art forms: (1) investing in artists and (2) educating kids through the arts. CAC invests in artists through its Meet This Artist and Go See This features—as well as through its Grassroots Arts partnership with the North Carolina Arts Council and its Emerging Artist partnership with the Durham Arts Council. CAC educates kids through the arts by facilitating its Chatham Artists-in-Schools Initiative, a partnership program with Chatham County Schools that brings professional artists—performing, visual, and literary—to classrooms throughout the county for curriculum connections through the arts.
The Chatham Artists Guild is a collective marketing and promotions group for working visual artists in the county. Former Guild President Shannon Bueker describes its influence, saying, “The Artist Guild keeps the artists working together, and–for many artists–keeps them getting back in the studio making art for our annual exhibitions. Over the years of our producing the Studio Tour and other guild shows, I have seen the artists form friendships and create critique groups and work groups. I have seen them influence and inspire each other.”
The show will run from October 1 to October 27 at the Chatham Arts Council office at 118 West Street in downtown Pittsboro, with an opening reception on October 1 from 2-4 p.m. The reception was designed to coincide with First Sunday in Pittsboro and will be open to the public.
The show will also be the first opportunity to get your 2017 Chatham Artists Guild Studio Tour brochures. The brochures provide a map and information about artists that will open their studios to the public for the first couple of weekends in December. This beloved Studio Tour gives locals a chance to meet artists in their creative environments and purchase unique gifts, just in time for the holidays. Art enthusiasts who cannot make the October 1st opening reception are welcome to visit the Chatham Arts Council offices on Saturdays, October 7, 14, and 21 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
While the Chatham Artists Guild and the Chatham Arts Council have different areas of focus, they’re both committed to highlighting the unique artistic talent we have in Chatham and promoting opportunities for audiences to engage with it. Long-time local arts advocate and former CAG President, Maggie Zwilling stated “One of the benefits of any arts programme or organization is how it brings community together. Frequently, nonprofits work together and in doing this, it introduces each organization to the other’s community, which ‘spreads the word’ and showcases both the arts and the partnering nonprofits. It’s a win-win.”
I, for one, am grateful to both organizations for enhancing so many lives in Chatham County, including my own.
We hope you will join us at the Chatham Arts Council office at 118 West Street in downtown Pittsboro for the opening reception of Chatham Artists Guild Celebrates 25 Years on October 1st from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. For more information on the Chatham Artists Guild or the Chatham Arts Council please visit their websites and reach out.