The Kingsley was organized in 1892 a group of 15 Sacramento women seeking art education and who were interested in supporting arts and culture in the community. The club’s mission has remained the same for the last 125 years but strategies and activities have evolved. 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. What exists now is a close relationship with the Crocker Art Museum the use of social media to spread the word about Kingsley .
The Kingsley moved out of the front parlors that lined N Street and other larger homes into the E. B. Crocker Art Gallery sometime in the 1920’s 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 was held in 1940 in the then 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 show 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 seven 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. Bus trips are organized for members to area art exhibitions, artist studios and activities in the visual arts. Occasional small group trips are a “look and lunch” feature for members with a visit to a venue not available to large groups.
Kingsley supports arts education in a local elementary school with volunteer docents and a year-end bus trip to the Crocker to give students an opportunity to experience fine art. Also, annual merit award scholarships honor outstanding student artists of the area’s six local community colleges. High school students and their teachers remain a group that we are working to serve appropriately with the museum staff, this year’s event being a high school art competition exhibited at the Crocker.
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. The ladies of long ago might not recognize what they started.