Hilton Head Island has a rich and storied history of being built from the ground up by a small and devoted group of individuals. Similarly, the Art League of Hilton Head was developed by a few individuals out of a love of art and a desire to have a place for artists at all levels of expertise, to exhibit, inspire, inform, and instruct in a beautiful art gallery and teaching academy setting.
Artist Walter Greer, Art League Gallery’s namesake and visionary founder, gathered a group of nine people in 1971 at the Red Piano Gallery to discuss forming an art league on Hilton Head Island. With a desire to present their idea to as large a group as possible, they scheduled a program in conjunction with an exhibit of Walter’s paintings in March of 1972 at the Hilton Head Inn. About 30 people showed up and elected Gretchen Ramsey as president. And the Art League of Hilton Head was born.
The first “official” meeting was held on May 24, 1972. In the spring of 1973, the first Members Show of the new Art League was held outdoors at Harbour Town and was very well received by the community. By 1976, membership had grown to over 300 people and in 1979, the organization proudly sponsored its first workshop – a 3-day watercolor course.
The 10th Anniversary of the Art League of Hilton Head was celebrated at the Members Show in October of 1982. Artwork was displayed at the Tatler Gallery and a party was held outdoors at the Market Place with 400-500 people attending to celebrate the organization’s success.
In March 1984, Art League opened its first gallery in an 800 sq. ft. store front next to Forsythe Jewelers in Sea Pines. Island developer Joe Fraser generously donated $1,500 to get the Art League’s space started. The first newsletter, the Articulate, was mailed out in April 1984 and on May 16, 1984 the new Art League Center became official with a ribbon cutting ceremony and an outdoor reception.
In addition to exhibitions, the center featured demonstrations and talks. Workshops were sponsored and held by Art League starting in 1985, and the children’s workshops began the next year. Many other exciting events took place over the next several years including the start of the “mini shows” of featured artists, the first “Arts and Flowers Show”, the “Fabulous Fakes” and the first “Juried Show.”
In April 1991, Art League Studio, a teaching space for Art League classes and workshops, opened in the DeVries Building on Palmetto Bay Road. In addition to workshops, the Studio also sponsored a lecture series.
The 20th anniversary celebration of Art League of Hilton Head, with a membership of over 500, was held at the Westin in November 1992. Art League Studio moved from the DeVries building to the Sea Pines Plantation Center in March of 1993 where workshops would be held from October through March. That year, the Members Show was held at the newly opened “Art League Gallery Too” in the Market Place on Palmetto Bay Road. And in January of 1994, the Art League Gallery was moved to a new location in the Sea Pines Center.
The Self Family Arts Center (now Arts Center of Coastal Carolina) opened in March 1996 with the dedication of the Walter Greer Gallery and an art exhibit of Art League member artists.
In 2000, the Art Gallery again relocated, this time to the northern end of the island at Pineland Station, kicking off its expansion with a week-long series of events. By January 2002, a new website was launched. Later that year, Art League of Hilton Head celebrated its 30th anniversary with a party at the Country Club of Hilton Head.
In 2003, Art League opened the Art Academy on Cordillo Parkway offering 23 classes in its first semester. And in 2010, Art League moved its headquarters and Art Gallery mid-island, to the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, our current location in 2021.
Over the past 50 years, Art League has emerged as the Lowcountry’s premier regional visual arts organization. Art League’s state-of-the-art Art Gallery and teaching Academy bring thousands of residents and visitors together through dynamic programs including cutting edge exhibitions, professional art classes, workshops with nationally recognized instructors, higher education scholarship opportunities, guest lectures, artist receptions, gallery walks, live art demonstrations, special events, and valuable local collaborations.
Today, celebrating our 50th Anniversary and with a membership nearing 500, Art League of Hilton Head contributes to the vibrance of island life with an array of programs, art exhibitions, and workshops with nationally recognized art instructors, maintains multiple satellite off-site galleries, and hosts popular special events for artists, art lovers and visitors around the world.
January 3 Instructor Exhibit through Feb 25 (A)
January 4 Anything Goes! Member Show through Jan 29 (G)
January 12 Anything Goes! Member Show 50th Anniversary Kick-off Reception 5-7pm (G)
January 19 Instructor Reception 5-7pm (A)
January 24-25 Amazing Watercolors Workshop with Julie Schroeder (A)
January 26 Experimenting with Alcohol Inks with Julie Schroeder (A)
January 27 Alcohol Inks and Beyond with Julie Schroeder (A)
February 1 NIBCAA / Arts Ob We People Exhibit through Feb 27 (G)
February 9 NIBCAA / Arts Ob We People Opening Reception 5-7pm (G)
February 15-17 Plein Air in Pastels and Oils with Gary Baughman (A)
February 28 Student Show Exhibit through March 18 (A)
March 8 Addison Palmer Exhibit through April 16 (G)
March 16 Addison Palmer Opening Reception 5-7pm (G)
March 18 Student Show Awards Reception 5-7pm (A)
March 22 50th Anniversary Celebration 5-7pm (G)
March 22-24 Got Art? Preview 10am-2pm (A)
March 24 Got Art? Event via Zoom 5:30-7:30pm
March 27 Life Long Learning Exhibit through April 2 (A)
March 30 Life Long Learning Reception 5-7pm (A)
April 4 Kerrie Brown Exhibit through June 3 (A)
April 6 Kerrie Brown Reception 5-7pm (A)
April 6-8 A Painterly Approach to Working in Pastels with Carol Inglesias (A)
April 19 Peter Dallos Exhibit through May 21 (G)
April 20 Peter Dallos Opening Reception 5-7pm (G)
May 13-14 Plein Air in Watercolor with Catherine Hillis (A)
May 24 Dennis Lake Exhibit through June 25 (G)
May 25 Dennis Lake Opening Reception 5-7pm (G)
June 6 Debi West Exhibit through July 29 (A)
June 15 Debi West Reception 5-7pm (A)
June 27 Fabulous Fakes Exhibit through July 2 (G)
June 29 Fabulous Fakes Reception 5-7pm (G)
July 6 Saundra Renee Smith Exhibit through Aug 13 (G)
July 6 Saundra Renee Smith Opening Reception 5-7pm (G)
August 1 Jean Macaluso Exhibit through Sept 30 (A)
August 16 Robin Sue Ross Exhibit through Sept 24 (G)
August 17 Robin Sue Ross Opening Reception 5-7pm (G)
September 7 Jean Macaluso Reception 5-7pm (A)
September 25 Past Members Exhibit through Oct 1 (G)
September 28 Past Members Show Reception 5-7pm (G)
October 3 TJ Cunningham & Adam Clague Exhibit through Oct 7 (A)
October 3-5 Oil Painting with TJ Cunningham (A)
October 4 CraftHiltonHead2022 Exhibit through Nov 12 (G)
October 5 CraftHiltonHead2022 Opening Reception 5-7pm (G)
October 6 TJ Cunningham & Adam Clague Live Painting/Reception (A)
October 6 Plein Air with TJ Cunningham & Adam Clague (A)
October 7-9 Portraiture with Adam Clague (A)
October 10 Richard Grant Exhibit through Nov 18 (A)
October 12 Richard Grant Reception 5-7pm (A)
October 29 50th Anniversary Gala at Sonesta Resort
November 15 Gallery of Gifts Exhibit through Dec 31 (G)
November 16 Gallery of Gifts Opening Reception 5-7pm (G)
(A) Art League Academy (G) Art League Gallery
The First Board of Directors and Officers of Art League of Hilton Head
Elected on September 12, 1972
President: Gretchen Ramsey
Vice President: Happy Palmer
Secretary: Mrs. William Jordan
Treasurer: Isabel Kern
Directors: Walter Greer, Mary Palmer, Mrs. Winston Sharples
List of Presidents
Mary Marcia Salisbury…..1973
Janice Hunter Malafraonte…..1989
Mary Jane Bauman…..1990-1991
Charles M. Dunn…..1992