The Redlands Art Association has a long history and tradition of artists working together to bring visual arts to the community. In 1964, Ben Rabe and a group of like-minded artists thought it would be a good idea to form the RAA and find a place to sell their art throughout the year. They came up with the idea of holding shows for local artists and had a tiny space in the Fox Theater where they could only hang 12 paintings at a time.
Rabe, an architect, and painter, was the 1st President of Redlands Art Association. Courtesy of Smiley Library, Heritage Center, we are fortunate to have an Oral History recorded by fellow member, Anne Besseme, many years ago. In it, Rabe talks about his life and work in Redlands, including 17 minutes where he talks about the founding of the Redlands Art Association.
Redlands history buffs will be interested to know that Rabe designed the old Daily Facts building that is now the MOR, Museum of Redlands designed by Johnson-Favaro Architects.
The Lyon Wing at A.K. Smiley Library is converted to a gallery space by Librarian Edith Taylor and William Moore, Library board member. Ben Rabe becomes Chairman. The First Annual Art Show and Sale is held in Smiley Park. The Redlands Art Association (RAA) was then formed by a small group of creative people and Ben Rabe becomes the first president. More than 200 members join including artists, patrons and sponsors. A very small gallery space was rented in the Fox Theater building on Cajon St.
Margaret Clark, a professor at University of Redlands, spearheads children’s art classes and later inspires a scholarship program in her name.
RAA moves to 12 East Vine Street with a slightly larger gallery space. The first Multi-Media Mini Show is created with an 8x8 inch size limit to allow more members to exhibit. Lecture series offer painting and sculpture demonstrations.
Formation of Redlands Art Council with Margaret Clark named Chairperson. First Youth Art Classes are offered as well as scholarship funding.
RAA expands and moves to Citrus Avenue next to Mozart’s.
RAA moves to its current location at 215 E. State St. providing space for a larger Sales Gallery showcase area and an Art Center classroom facility.
Today RAA continues to thrive hosting multiple themed shows, exhibits, and programs each year and offers classes and workshops for adults and children. Many scholarships, awards, and grants are available through the Margaret Clark Art Education Enrichment Fund (MACEEF) Committee.