Yuma Fine Arts seeks items from 1950 to 2012
Yuma Fine Arts Association is seeking historical photographs of events and exhibitions, newspaper articles, invitations, fliers, posters and personal accounts about the organization dating from 1950 to the present.
The historical items are needed for a hardcover book about Yuma Fine Arts' history. The book will be available at the organization's 50th Anniversary Gala at the Yuma Art Center, tentatively scheduled for Dec. 7.
“Yuma Fine Arts has a long and rich history in Yuma because the community has always supported us,” said Carolyn J. Bennett, executive director of the association. “This is cause for celebration.”
The association needs the materials as soon as possible so there is time to prepare and print the book in advance of the gala, Bennett added.
“There is a sense of urgency. Newspaper articles, invitations, fliers, posters, photographs and memories — that's what we're looking for.”
During the gala, a “timeline wall” will display the historical materials brought in by area residents.
In addition, the association is seeking to borrow artwork created by the founders of the group, such as Esther Jones, Monica Baker, Joe Baker, Rose Marie Gwynn, Jo Pasquinelli, Sue Holmes, Vonda Golden, as well as teachers Robert Sentz and Jens Johannssen. The original artists will be featured in the “Founders Exhibit” during the gala.
For more information about the project or the celebration, call 329-6607, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with “YFA History” in the subject line or post on www.facebook.com/YumaFineArts50thAnniversary.
According to Bennett, the roots of Yuma Fine Arts Association started in 1950 when 10 artists got together to support each other and nurture the arts in Yuma.
“They called themselves the ‘Yuma Art Center' and were in a ranch-style building at the corner of 16th Street and 4th Avenue where the Yuma Mesa Shopping Center is now located.
“The building had been a U.S. Immigration Services Building previously and had a jail cell in it, which created no end of entertainment for the boys who took art classes after school on Tuesdays. We have not found any pictures of that building, so that's on our list.”
By 1960, the group moved to the second Yuma Art Center, the historical Sanguinetti property on Madison known then as the Century House and Gardens and owned by the Gwynn family. In 1962, they incorporated as Yuma Fine Arts Association.
“We have found some photographs of the Century House era, which lasted through most of the 1960s,” Bennett said.
“We were then for a short time on Main Street, then referred to as ‘the mall.' Ironically, we were given use of a jewelry store next to the Yuma Theatre, part of which was saved and incorporated into the new Yuma Art Center — and is now the Yuma Fine Arts gift shop. So in that regard, we've come full circle.”
Around 1968, Yuma Fine Arts started the process of acquiring the Southern Pacific Railroad Depot on Gila Street for the new Yuma Art Center.
According to Bennett, the railroad planned to destroy the building and construct a new passenger service building. Through a land trade for adjacent property to the railroad, Yuma Fine Arts obtained the depot and started fundraising to convert it to a center for the arts. The facility was then donated to the city of Yuma.
“The ‘Depot era' commenced in 1975 and lasted until a fire destroyed the building in 1993,” Bennett said. “A lot of documentation and about a third of the Yuma Fine Arts permanent collection burned.”
After the Depot fire, Yuma Fine Arts Association occupied several different spaces and exhibited at the Public Works building among others before entering a permanent home at 254 S. Main St.
Chris McDaniel can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6849.