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Creating and supporting the Visual Arts in Loudoun County since 1944 


Article edited from various writings by Vinton Pickens and others about the history of the Loudoun Sketch Club

Vinton Pickens (nee:Liddle) from the 1922 Bryn Mawr College yearbook

Three talented ladies Evelyn Marshall, Vinton Pickens and Betty Tiffany offered their artwork at the Waterford Fair in Waterford, Virginia in 1944. Realizing they has a common interest in creating 'fine art' albeit modestly so, they began meeting together weekly on Tuesdays to sketch and encourage one another in their artistic pursuits. They called themselves the “Hot Sketches,” but their ensuing success prompted the more serious name “The Loudoun Sketch Club.” Those formidable women were instrumental in creating a Loudoun community that appreciates visual art to this day. One of the founding three, Vinton Pickens, convinced the Board of Supervisors to found the first Planning Commission for Loudoun County in 1942, and served as its first Chairman. Her efforts to appreciate the natural beauty of Loudoun resulted in our enjoyment of a county free of highway signage. She also established the ongoing collection of art produced by Loudoun artists currently displayed  in the halls of the Loudoun County Government Building.

First Shows

The first show, in 1946, was held in the basement of the Baptist Church (then on Virt Street). For the second show, Judge Alexander allowed  the use of the County Courthouse. The show was big news in Loudoun, where art was all but unknown. It was taught at the Hill School and at Foxcroft but the public schools knew neither art nor music. That local citizens should display their works -- let alone offer them for sale -- was epoc making. Not least to be surprised were the Sketch Club members themselves. But for one of them, Frances Allen, who alone had any experience in the art world, the members might never have tried to enter it.  Knowing the importance of publicity, for the club's first tiny beginning amatuers' show they invited the Corcoran Gallery's curator of American Art as a guest for the opening dinner. Subsequent honor guests included Corcoran Director H. W. Williams and Director Leslie Cheek of the Virginina Museum of Fine Art in Richmond. 

Why would these dignitaries accept? The club exemplified what they sought -- grassroots art interest. And the club was news. For some years the Washington Star and the Washington Post art critics attended and covered the Sketch Club exhibitions. Imagine their doing so today!

Click HERE for the text of an interview with, Vinton Pickens.

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