The History of the San Dieguito Art Guild and Off Track Gallery.
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How it All Began
The San Dieguito Art Guild was organized in 1965 by a group of twelve enthusiastic artists who lived in the San Dieguito area (this area includes the coastal cities from Del Mar to Leucadia). Their purpose was to promote greater understanding and appreciation of the fine arts in the area.
Sue Beere (who worked in oil and painted horses) wanted to start an art group. She called together friends and neighbors to a coffee at her Del Mar home. In this first meeting were thought to be Olivia Priller-Walker, Mickie Woolman, William Wicknick, Marjorie Morgan, and Vilma Malmberg. Other founding members were Marjorie Morgan, Agnes de Lambert, Dorothy Woolley, Bill Wicknick, Dorothy Telford, Mary Bricker, Mary Elsie Davis, Jo Fisher, Mrs. James F. Kuidor, Erma Lawson, Marie Angenent and Catherine Curran.
Sue was elected as the first president and served for the 1965-1966 term.
The first people involved in the San Dieguito Art Guild were a mixture of people — some with a lot of art training, some with none at all. They met in each member’s homes until a rental space was available.
The first 100 members to join the newly formed San Dieguito Art Guild were designated charter members. These included Marjorie La Ray, Kirby Sumner, Lee Woods, Ann Knapton, Mavia L. Shortlidge, Ruth Roebuck, Vilma Malmberg, Betty Hammond, Bonney Park and George Hukar among many others.
Blue Lantern Art Gallery
The Guild artists began showing their work on the lawn of the Old Del Mar Hotel property. With the money raised from the outdoor shows, commissions from sales and dues, the members were able to rent a small shop in downtown Del Mar. It was located in a tiny store building next to the Chamber of Commerce in Del Mar and named the Blue Lantern Art Gallery after the blue lantern that hung in front of the shop.
Saint James Catholic Church Building
In December 1966, the Guild moved across the street to the former St. James Catholic Church, which is now the Del Mar Library. It served as headquarters through September 1969. Monthly Memberships Shows, one-person shows, and an art supply store were all available.
The president for the 1967 – 1968 term was William Wicknick.
The president for the 1968 – 1969 term was George Hukar.
The president for the 1969 – 1970 term was Marjorie La Ray.
This is the Del Mar Library as it looks in 2009.
The Chateau Art Gallery
In October, 1969 the Guild moved once again. The old St. James Church was sold and so guild moved into the “old Chateau” or as it was also known the “Honeymoon Cottage” of the Old Del Mar Hotel. This building was the only remaining structure of the old hotel. The four bedrooms were converted into art studios, the second floor became a large workshop and meeting room. The main gallery was on the ground floor. There was even room for the permanent hosts (first Bill and Ruth Roebuck and then Syd and Debbie Sowers) to live on site! Staffing the gallery was on a volunteer basis.
A full schedule of classes, conducted by some of the finest art teachers in the country, was available. These teachers included George Hukar, Marti Roi, Vezia Laurey, and Thelma Speed Houston. The rent was $150 a month and membership dues were $7.50. A yearly scholarship of $100 was established and presented to an outstanding college art student in the San Dieguito area.
The president for the 1970 -71 term was Ruth Roebuck.
The president for the 1971-72 term was Dee Wilhelmy
Dee and her husband owned the Wilhelmy’s Picture Framing
in Leucadia, where the guild would eventually move to.
The co-presidents of the guild for the 1972-73 term were Marjorie Morgan and Mary Ellen Melton.
St. James Academy school building
The president for the 1973-74 term was Marjorie Morgan.
June, 1973 the owners decided to convert the Chateau into office space and the San Dieguito Art Guild was searching for a home again. The Guild and artists occupied the old St. James Academy school building from 1973 to 1975, when the City of Del Mar took this space over for their new Civic Center. This was the last Del Mar location for the SDAG.
The president for 1974-75 was Dorothe Reavell.
1038-B Hwy. 101, Leucadia
In 1975, the Guild left Del Mar and moved to Leucadia.
The president of the 1975-76 term was Betty Sturdevan.
In November of 1976 it was noted that the Chateau was empty. Was there a possibility of Guild moving back? Board members were not thrilled. In December it was noted that the Chateau was rented to a film company.
Gallery exterior 1976
Gallery interior 1976
September meeting at Guild
Val Mote, Mickey, Dorothy, Marion, Marge Morgan
10th Annual Spring Art Festival — May 2, 1976
Mickey Wooman (blue suit), Marge Lewis, Aretta Scarper, Harvey Scarper, Rita Kudrma, Elsie Goss (in dark print)
Cover of the “Yearbook” published each year with names and addresses of all the Guild members.
Cover design logo by Bonney Park (aunt of present member Charlene Bonney).
February, 1977 the Wilhelmys sold the property in to Victor Calvi and the rent went from $300 per month to $400 per month. Gloria Winfrey was elected president of the guild.
At the Starving Artists’ Show in August 1979
The president for the 1980-1981 term was Clara Fleming
The always popular hot dog stand at the annual Starving Artist Sale held in August
Elsie Goss, president, 1981-1983
Looking south on Highway 101
In June of 1982 a group of 10 artists who had run the Art Garden Gallery in Del Mar moved their gallery into the downstairs portion of the old train station in Leucadia. The Pannikin was upstairs. They named their new gallery the Offtrack (one word) Gallery. In time, the San Dieguito Art Guild would merge with the Offtrack Gallery and the two groups became one.
Britta Kling in front of the new Offtrack Gallery
Meanwhile SDAG continued with the annual Spring Cash Awards Show, their annual Starving Artists Show and started a new tradition “Paint-Ins”. These Paint-Ins were events where members set up displays and also demonstrated painting techniques throughout the day. The public was invited to attend.
A few of the key members in 1982:
Linda Bolognese Bertie Ficaro Joan Grine
Marge Lewis Pat McCoury Bonney Park
Loretta Phoenix Betty Sturdevan
The president for the 1983-1984 term and also for the 1984-1985 term was Bonney Park.
Bonney Park, president, giving award to Marge Lewis 1984
From The Citizen Newspaper 1984
Starving Artists Show 1984
New president Elsie Goss (two MORE terms: 1985-1987) takes over for Bonney Park
New signs at the San Dieguito Art Guild gallery
Elsie Goss, president, giving award to Janet Finney
Leucadia Art Guild
Patricia Bynum-Watkins and Elsie Goss
In 1989, in celebration of its 25th year of existence, the San Dieguito Art Guild received the prestigious GRUMBACHER SILVER MEDALLION AWARD at its annual May Art Show, Open House and Reception. The Grumbacher Awards are given to galleries who meet their qualifications. The San Dieguito Art Guild was honored in its twenty-fifty year of outstanding service to San Diego’s North County’s artists – an endeavor that includes encouragement, competition, artistic environment, education, opportunity and advancement.
The president for the1989-1990 and 1990-1991 terms was Hildegarde Stubbs
President Hildegarde Stubbs and Bonney Park
Hildegarde gives award to Vilma Malmberg
Hildegarde gives award to Gloria Daniels
Pat Watkins in the SDAG Gallery, 1991
Millie Waelchli by refreshment table, 1991
Betty Sturdevan, 1991
The president for the 1991-92 term was Joan Grine.
She is giving a pastel demonstration held at Quail Gardens.
Joyce Patrick and Janet Finney seated outside Gallery, 1991
In 1993 the big news was the move of the Guild after 18 and a half years to 835 North Vulcan to share a building with Bradford’s Frame Shop. Joan Grine was president during this move.
1993 was the beginning of the Guild’s annual Artists’ Studio Tour.
“Chairman Gay Fisher has put together an enticing Artist Studio Tour featuring approximately 14 heads-up North County artists. The dates: Saturday, October 16 and Sunday, October 17 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets: $12.00. SDAG will host a Champagne Reception both days at our new Gallery location at 835 North Vulcan.”
June 1994 was the first Small Image Show, open to non-SDAG members.
September, 1994. SDAG is on the move again.
This time it is to merge with the Offtrack (one word) Gallery in the Pannikin.
From October 1994 Paint Rag: “First take-in at our Gallery was accomplished with what looked like organized chaos — but as with all new beginnings we improve with time. Entries for the monthly show numbered more than we’ve had in months, resulting in an overflow of the “great” wall. However, the overflow was successfully accommodated and the show is overwhelming.”
Cyndy Brenneman is president 1995-1997.
SDAG hosts it’s 30th birthday party!
Membership is 250.
Inside the Off Track Gallery, downstairs from the Pannikin, 1995
SDAG artists paint, show and sell at the Carlsbad Flower Fields, 1995
SDAG members on painting trip to Calafia, Mexico, 1995
Betty Sturdevan, ?, ?, Loretta Phoenix, ?,Gay Fisher, ?, ?, ?,Michael Gaszynski,?, ?, ?, McNeil Sargent
Kneeling: Hildegarde Stubbs, ?, ?, Joan Grine, Patricia Watkins, Sandra Bray, Diane Smith
?, Loretta Phoenix, Betty Sturdevan, Hildegard Stubbes, ?, Jackie Bissell, ?, Judianne Shannon, Joan Grine, ?, ?, ?, Pearl Cadwell, ?, ?, Barb Mille
The Mother’s Day tour included: The Off Track Gallery (Encinitas), Cathy Breslaw (Olivenhain), Charlene Bonney (Encinitas), Patricia Bynum Watkins (RSF), Betty Sturdevan (Encinitas), Cynthia Brenneman/Susette Amon, Tom Shannon (Cardiff), Joan Grine (Del Mar), Diane K. Smith (Encinitas), and Irina Gronborg (Solana Beach). Saturday was at Quail Gardens and Sunday was the tour of the homes.
The president for 1997 – 1999 was Shirley Hawley
The Mother’s Day tour this year featured the homes of Annette Paquet, Irina Gronborg, Joli Beal, Patricia Bynum Watkins, Sandra Bray, Cathy Breslaw, Diane Smith, Charlene Bonney, Char Cee Colosia, Claudia Brown. Saturday was held at Quail Botanical Gardens and Sunday was the tour of SDAG members’ homes.
Michael Gaszynski Jim Respess & Tom Shannon
February: Membership Cash Award Show
March: Painting in the Flower Fields
April: Painting in the Flower Fields
May: Artist’s Studio and Garden Tour
Saturday was at Quail Gardens, Sunday was a tour of nine SDAG Artists’ homes
The homes included Sandra and Nathan Bray, Cynthia Amon Brenneman, Cathy Breslaw, Joan Grine, Alice Jean Dieffenbach, Irina and Erik Gronborg, Kathleen McGee, Diane Smith and Patricia Bynum Watkins
June: Del Mar Fair Demonstration
July: Small Image Show (“Small Perceptions”). Luann cartoonist, Greg Evans, judged the show
December: Membership Cash Awards Show
The president for 1999 – 2001 was Jim Respess.
No Mother’s Day Weekend Artists’ Studio tour this year. Instead, Cynthia Amon Brenneman held “The Mad Artist’s Tea Party” Reception, Sunday, May 7th, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. as Artist of the Month.
The Small Image Show tradition continued.
?, Jackie Tyree, ? Alison Christler
The president for 2001 – 2002 was Judianne Shannon.
The Mother’s Day Tour was held at Quail Gardens on Saturday and the home tour was on Sunday.
The president for 2002 – 2003 was Jo Ann Ginepra.
The president for 2003 – 2005 was Isabella Breasted.
January of 2005, the guild moves out of the Pannikin Olde Train Station building.
Corner of Leucadia Blvd. & HIghway 101
In February, 2005, the guild moved to 914 South Coast Highway 101 on the corner of Leucadia Blvd. and Highway 101. The name derived from the time in the old train station, Offtrack Gallery, remained the same.By now, however most of the time Offtrack was changed in many places to be two words: Off Track.
The president for 2005 – 2007 was Laura Lowenstein.
In January, 2006 the gallery on the corner of Highway 101 and Leucadia Blvd was shut down. The reason was lack of foot traffic to the gallery resulting in poor artists sales which in turn resulted in many artists pulling out of the gallery. Since the guild was losing money each month, the gallery had to be closed before all bank funds were exhausted. The guild decided to operate without a gallery.
687 South Coast Highway 101
In 2006 the Gallery moved again, this time to downtown Encinitas. In June of 2008 the grey metal building that housed the gallery was torn down and will be reconstructed in Calexico some time in 2009 by the Mision Dios Soberano. You can check on their progress at http://www.beamm.org:80/diossoberanobuilding.htm .
The president for 2007 – 2009 was Patricia Eldon.
The president for 2009-2010 was Bruce Stewart.
In June of 2009 SDAG opened a second gallery in the Lumberyard Shopping Center.
Suite C-103 (behind St. Tropez Bistro)
The second gallery was referred to as Off Track 2 Gallery.
Cheryl Ehlers served as president from 2010-2012.
In March of 2010 the building housing the Off Track Gallery was sold to be replaced with dental offices and the guild had to find a permanent home.
The Board decided to sign a 5-year lease on the space in the Lumberyard. The gallery on Second Street closed down and all the artists moved over to the Lumberyard location.
In December of 2012 we became a 501 (c) 3 organization.
In 2013 the Guild renewed the lease for another 5 years.
Terry Allen was president from 2013 to 2014.
Carol Korfin served from 2014 – 2016.
Lin Holzinger served from 2016 – 2018.
Linda Melvin served as President from 2018 – 2020.
Patricia Watkins served as President from 2020-2021.
Judianne Shannon served as President from 2021 – 2023.
Janet Scura is current President.