ABOUT US : our mission and history

mission

The Chester County Art Association is a non-profit, cultural organization that promotes participation in the arts through quality instruction, exhibitions and community outreach. CCAA believes that art does make a difference and has enhanced the community by involving people of all ages and aspirations in the arts since 1931.

history

CCAA was founded in 1931 by several prominent artists and community leaders including William Palmer Lear (1908-1970) and N.C. Wyeth (1882-1945), both renowned illustrators, and Christian Brinton (1870-1942), an internationally-known art critic and early promoter of Modernist art movement.  The original group met weekly to sketch and plan exhibits, many of them featuring the works of the young Andrew Wyeth as well as that of other soon-to-be celebrated artists such as Horace Pippin, Tom Bostelle, Barclay Rubincam, Philip Jamison, Peter Sculpthorpe and  Harry Dunn.

 

In those early years, their hope for a permanent home of the arts in Chester County had several incarnations.  Members met initially in private homes including the DeHaven House, which was rented from the West Chester School District until 1947 when a high school fire necessitated its use for school administration.  For several years the homeless CCAA held its exhibitions at West Chester University.   Finally, in the early 1950s, a local resident, Mary E. Page Allinson, came to the rescue and  donated more than an acre of land on the edge of West Chester. It was here that the present art center was built in 1953.  A subsequent gift from another resident, WW “Chick” Laird, expanded the property to a total of five acres.  Bequests from Stewart Huston and Alison Farmer Wescott enabled the addition of a second gallery as well as several spacious studios in 1974.

groundbreaking
In the 75 years since its founding, CCAA has retained its mission as a community-minded organization but has grown tremendously to include an astonishing range of activities and “ArtReach” programs. These include popular summer day camp; a satellite facility known as the Exton Square Studio and an ever expanding curriculum of classes for adults and children alike, with vital scholarships provided for children who are most in need.