Staying Connected to the Community: The Guild of Creative Art
By Ojal Arya
As part of Monmouth Arts' 50th Anniversary, we're taking the time to showcase some of our nonprofit member groups that form the foundation of Monmouth Arts' creative community. We understand that this reopening phase of COVID-19 presents its own challenges, so we're hoping to shine a light on the work being done in this area. Today, we're looking at the Guild of Creative Art, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing excellence in the visual arts through teaching, exhibits, workshops, and special events. We checked in with the Guild's Co-President, David Levy, to see what's currently going on with the Guild and its reopening.
For those who aren't familiar with you, please give us a short description of your nonprofit.
The Guild of Creative Art opened in May 1960. In 2020, we proudly celebrated 60 years of service as the oldest and largest art community in New Jersey. Guild founder, Yvonne Aubert, was a tireless visionary who purchased a five-car garage at the Guild’s present location in Shrewsbury. Aubert converted the garage to a studio and exhibition hall, encouraging some of the county’s most notable artists to become charter members. They wanted to establish the Guild as a catalyst for creative development and awareness in the visual arts. They also wanted to provide motivation via education, demonstration, and presentation, while encouraging inspired camaraderie within the membership and the community. Today we offer art classes and workshops in various mediums, as well as opportunities for artists to exhibit artwork. Shows change monthly, and the public is invited to our monthly receptions. Visitors to the Guild can enjoy our eclectic exhibits of affordable original art by emerging and established artists; gallery admission is free.
Give one example of a way you've seen your organization's work make a difference.
The Guild was closed and our free docent program was suspended for over one year due to COVID-19. Although we did some Zoom docent tours, two groups have returned to us live. Search Day is back with us weekly as well as Chelsea Assisted Living every month, and we have received wonderful feedback. ARC and PrimeTime will return to us in September for monthly visits. Activities directors, staff, and clients have told us how much we were missed.
Directors have also remarked that besides clients coming back to the facility beaming about their visits, many have seen improvements in expressive language and critical thinking. For our Autistic group from Search Day, the benefits are similar, but these adults also volunteer their services to the Guild. People who have received a lifetime of services are now the givers. And how they appreciate being in that position.
How are you operating now with reopening? Have you made any adaptations due to COVID-19 that our readers would be interested in hearing about?
Our major challenge has been to stay afloat financially with the drastic loss in revenue from classes, gallery rentals, memberships, sales, special events, and workshops. We created "Art Galleries Online" exhibits as a way to keep all levels of membership connected to the Guild. This has proven so popular that they will continue even after the pandemic is over. Zoom meetings became essential, and three teachers have provided art instruction via Zoom. Currently, we're operating with restricted walk-in hours -- there is only one live class in the studio, and gallery exhibits and receptions are limited -- but in September we look forward to opening regular hours with a full slate of classes, exhibits, and special events such as PlaywrightsSpeak and the Floral Designers' Exhibit in October, along with our Open Juried Show.
Can you share an interesting anecdote or something about your nonprofit that would surprise people?
Yes, the Guild of Creative Art has provided Boy Scouts in search of merit badges a venue from which draw -- not only inspiration -- but valuable knowledge about our art and artists!
What are you looking forward to for the rest of 2021?
We look forward to being able to socialize more freely, to offer a full menu of classes and docent tours, receptions with fewer restrictions, greater foot traffic, and more special events. We hope that our postponed 60th Anniversary (in 2020) may be celebrated, possibly in December. We will also host exhibits by Regina Guarino of Rumson and Ilene Smith of Red Bank in September, and Santo Pezzutti's Centennial exhibit in November!
Monmouth Arts has a great network of arts supporters. How can our members and readers support your nonprofit right now?
Publicity is golden (so are donations!). We want our organization to attract as big and diverse an audience as possible, and Monmouth Arts has been so supportive and helpful in this regard.
Where can people find your group?
Facebook and Instagram: @guildofcreativeart
Interested in becoming a nonprofit member like the Guild of Creative Art? Become a member of Monmouth Arts today!