In July 1980, a group of seventeen area artists decided to organize themselves and met for the first time, forming the core of what was to become The Art League of Highlands. Their purpose was to provide mutual support and encouragement to themselves and other artists in Highlands and Cashiers. Meeting in Helen Sparks' barn, they painted and enjoyed each other’s fellowship. This core group, along with fourteen others, held its first juried show in October, 1980. By May 1982, more than fifty people counted themselves members of the organization, but it wasn’t until 1984 that the group settled on the official name of the organization.
Today, the Art League is a 501c non-profit corporation and has nearly 100 members. Many of them are artists, but many others of various backgrounds share their love of the visual arts and wish to support its development. Members hail from several surrounding communities and nearby states. In 2013, the members voted to officially change to organization’s name to The Art League of Highlands-Cashiers to recognize its expanding geographical reach. The organization continues to evolve as it partners with other art groups and local businesses to promote appreciation of the visual arts.
Throughout the summer season, the group’s monthly meetings feature regional artists who share their inspirational art with the membership. While the meetings are primarily attended by adults, from its inception The Art League has also been committed to youth art education, establishing after-school classes and summer programs for area children. It established the first art class for Highlands’s children, who were bussed to a facility on Fifth Street known as the “Studio for the Arts” where art and drama were taught by interested area talents.
For many years, the League has presented summer and fall art shows that now draw artists from all over the region and it publishes an informative monthly newsletter that is sent to all members. We are very proud of our history, accomplishments, and plans for the future. It is our pleasure to have the opportunity to get to know you and for you to get to know us as well.
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