History of the NAA Education Program
The Newburyport Art Association is dedicated to providing quality art education programming for students of all ages and levels across a wide range of media taught by professional artists and educators through lectures, workshops, art classes, and exhibitions.
HISTORY OF THE NEWBURYPORT ART ASSOCIATION EDUCATION PROGRAM
in collaboration with Peg Dalton, Artist Member
Sam Sargent, born in Newburyport in 1889, was the founding member of the Newburyport Art Association and its educational program. He graduated from Mass Normal School of Boston in 1912, where he majored in portrait painting and became a qualified art teacher. He was issued a charter by the Massachusetts Board of Education authorizing him to conduct an art school, issue credits to students and teachers and accept students under the G.I. Bill. In 1942 Sam founded the Sargent School of Painting and taught for the next 16 years. His school was located at his residence on Green Street in the Carriage house. By 1948 he had formed a group of students whose aim was to create and stimulate creative efforts in fine arts and crafts and the NAA was born. The Association’s first home was One Threadneedle Alley in Newburyport. When he died in 1959, he left behind an important educational contribution to the Newburyport Art Association. In 1968 urban renewal forced the Association to vacate Threadneedle Alley. NAA then met at the YMCA until the purchase in 1969 of its current home on 65 Water Street. After moving to the new building regular monthly meetings were held with demonstrations or talks by many qualified instructors. Art classes began in 1975 and became an integral part of the Newburyport Art Association thereafter. The NAA beginner artist looked for guidance, the intermediate for improvement and the more advanced artist for a possible new direction or perspective. Some of the first classes offered at 65 Water Street included Watercolor taught by Audrey Bechler, Oil Painting taught by Bill Oskar and Sculpture taught by Bill Hanson. Additional art demonstrations were given in Children’s Portrait painting by Daniel Williamson and Charles Movalli demonstrated Oil Painting. Over the years art instruction would be offered in Stain Gass, Batik, Wood Carving, Egg Tempera, and Figure Drawing. In 1976 children’s art lessons were introduced into the education program and the first class was taught by Jeannette Cheney. Over the years such established artists as Peg Dalton and Susan Spellman offered classes to the community youth through the NAA. The NAA education program was revitalized by Susan Spellman with the introduction of ArtLink, the NAA’s community outreach program. The tradition is continued today with the NAA’s Art Link and Op Art programs (see Community Outreach page), and with its youth art program, Creative Explorations, taught by Sara Connor (see Current Youth Programs page for Sara’s biography).
In recent years the NAA has become the place for the public to study art from a wide range of art courses and workshops. The curriculum varies each semester giving students the opportunity to study cutting edge and traditional techniques in Pastels, Studio Oil Painting, Abstract Art, “Goytaku”, Sculpture, Figure Drawing and more. This program has succeeded in bringing an “art school atmosphere” to the region. The current and past roster of instructors have studied at some of the top art institutions in the world including the Art Institute of Philadelphia, Rhode Island School of Design, The School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Yale University, Leslie University, Montserrat and Massachusetts College of Art. All of our instructors are notable exhibiting artists. The achievements of some of our past and present staff include Alan Bull whose paintings were part of the set backgrounds in “The Clique” a Warner Brothers Production Film, Marina Forbes who is licensed with the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersbury Russia, Susan Spellman whose clients include Houghton Mifflin, McGraw-Hill, Oxford University Press and Little, Brown & Co., and Kevin Shea and Beverly Mitchell who are both Copley Artists. Equally important to the program are those instructors who enjoy dual professions such as a sea captain, musician or public school teacher. All are true professionals in their given fields of art with a number of them having exhibited their art in New York City, London, Boston, Russia and Italy. The NAA Education program offers a new series of art courses each season in a variety of different mediums. Sam Sargent’s legacy is evident today with over 500 students having enrolled in NAA classes over the past few years.