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The History of the Tuscarawas County Art Guild


In the early 1960's a talented group of young adults had a strong inner urge to expand their creativity. The desire to perfect their painting skills, led them to form a painting club that assisted and encouraged each other with their artistic endeavors, while learning more about art itself.


The original meetings were held at the Ohio Power office on West High Avenue in New Philadelphia, and occasionally in the homes of the various members. The budding artists became very involved with recruiting new members, organizing a set of by-laws, and securing the name, Tuscarawas County Art Guild.


Charter member and artist, Dan Fiora, designed a large poster for the Art Guild along with a stationary letterhead, name cards and lettered and framed the charter. Other steadfast charter members were Wanda Clark, Rose Beitzel and Angelo Martinelli. This was in the year 1968. 


The busy artists took time to display their paintings at various businesses throughout the area.  The active group also participated in many art shows and displays, including the 200th anniversary in 1972, of the founding of Schoenbrunn Village, in New Philadelphia. Their eagerness to learn prompted them to bring artists and art teachers from other areas of the state for educational painting sessions.


Another goal of the organization was realized in 1972, when the Zoar Community Association offered them the second floor of the Zoar Schoolhouse to use as an art gallery, and a way to broaden the county's appreciation of art. The only catch was they had to clean up the old building with back breaking work, elbow grease and a lot of determination. They even built their own peg boards to display their art. Eventually, the gallery inventory expanded to include craft items, leaded glass, china painting and wood working to name a few and became an independent organization known as the Tuscarawas County Arts and Crafts Association. After 17 years, it closed in 1989.


The Art Guild was instrumental in transforming the former Liberty Seed building into an art gallery. The Tuscarawas County Center for the Arts, with their cleaning and painting efforts. The Center for the Arts is where the organization holds its meetings on the third Tuesday of the month and also hosts an annual gallery show, November through the first of January.


The foresight of the charter members and the continued dedication of all the members which have gotten involved with the organization is why it stills exists today. One charger member, Wanda Clark, and four life time members: Vivian Sickafoose, Bev Hammerstrom, Doris Hughes and Leona Dodds, are still involved in the Art Guild today, November 2008. Another LIfe Time Member, Dorothy Bower passed away in September.


This history of the Tuscarawas County Art Guild was originally written by Vivian Sickafoose in 1987. It has been edited to fit this format and updated by Secretary Jane Gartrell.

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