Formerly called the Washington Water Color Club, the Washington Water Color Association is one of the oldest societies of professional artists and can trace its beginnings to the late 19th century.
Washington watercolorist and teacher, Marietta W. Andrews, originated the idea for such a society. The first meeting, March 28, 1896, was attended by 15 professional artists. The first exhibition, December 1896, had 134 works displayed at the Cosmos Club of Washington. Between 1897 and 1899, the Water Color Club exhibited at the Connecticut Avenue Gallery.
The exhibit of 1900 was held in the Hemicycle Room at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. In the years between 1921 and 1930, the WWCA held exhibits at the U.S. National Museum, the National Gallery of Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Howard University and the Arts Club of Washington.
In 1921, the name was changed to the Washington Water Color Association and the group became a non-profit, educational organization. By 1936, artists from the twenty-one states and the District of Columbia were displaying their works at the association’s exhibitions.
Among the well-known artists exhibiting works over the years were William Henry Holmes, Thomas Anshutz, William Merritt Chase, Joseph Pennell and American Impressionists Frank Benson and Chile Hassam.
In later years Elliott O’Hara, Andrew Wyeth, Don Kingman, Henry Gasser and Alice Pike Barney were among the painters exhibiting in annual WWCA shows. Alma Thomas, Delilah Pierce, Lois Mailou Jones and James Wells were among African American artists who exhibited regularly.
Internationally recognized artist Lily Spandorf was a member of WWCA until her death. Vienna-born and educated, Lily Spandorf made London her base of operations for several years, dividing her time between Britain and Italy, painting and exhibiting in both countries. She came to the United States at the end of 1959 and had a solo show in New York City. In 1960 she arrived in Washington, where she has had many solo exhibits.
Another WWCA member, Japanese artist Unichi Hiratsuka was one of the founding fathers of the Creative Prints movement (Sosaku Hanga) and one of the big names of twentieth century Japanese art. Hiratsuka is best known for prints in black and white. He died at the age of 102 years.
- Juried member shows throughout each year. Sites vary according to availability.
- Several meetings within a year to discuss club business and enhance knowledge through demonstrations and workshops.
- Annual luncheon meeting in late spring to exchange ideas and get better acquainted.
- Newsletter published periodically which includes information and a calendar of upcoming events.
- Community service through contributions to educational institutions and art groups in the Washington metropolitan area. WWCA offers an annual scholarship for a deserving high school senior who plans to pursue a career in art.