South County Art Association has been a non profit since 1929, At the time, prominent Rhode Islanders who were all associated with the Providence Art Club, spent time painting in South County. In 1927 and 1928, John Dawson of Wickford invited a few friends to exhibit their work. Those friends were people like Hezekiah Dyer, Frank Mathewson, Hilda Anderson, Sydney Burleigh, Herbert Cross (of Cross Pen and Pencil fame), Chester Dodge, Anthony Dyer, Lee Jeffrey, Albert McCutchen, Bertha Noyes, Fred Sisson, and Stacy Tolman and John Dawson himself. They showed a total of 35 works, ranging in subject from workers at the Wickford docks to night at Gibralter, the Grand Canyon to the Garden at Versailles. They had such a good time of it that Dawson declared them an Association, and they all agreed wholeheartedly to do it again!
And again they did, again and again – the exhibits were held annually each year since. Their mission was “to promote an interest in arts and to encourage artists in Washington County, Rhode Island, and to support in every way the aesthetic interests of the community, particularly by encouraging the production, exhibition, and sale or works of art by local and other artists, by arranging lectures and discussions of art, and by aiding in the preservation and deeper appreciation of the remains of local colonial art”.
Then came the Helme family - Bernon Elijah Helme had been a member of the SCAA for some time and often hosted lectures and exhibitions in his home, 2587 Kingstown Rd, Kingston, RI where he lived and operated a general store and post office in the property he owned next store (a school house built in 1729). Bernon Helme’s sister, Mary Helme Hale, was an artist herself and married to Dr. William Hale. Besides his involvement with SCAA, Mr. Helme dreamed about establishing a college in Kingston and raised $2,000 from 30 individuals to buy the 140 acre Oliver Watson Farm for the state’s Agricultural School and Experiment Station, now known as the University of Rhode Island!
When Bernon Helme died in 1944, he had no heirs, so he left a portion of his estate to the South County Art Association (SCAA), making it possible to purchase not only his house and the one next door, but a portion of his fine collection of antiques as well. With ample space, the SCAA began offering more art instruction, longer and more diverse exhibitions and more frequent programs.
We, as South County Art Association, are excited to be celebrating the vision of artists from the last century, 90 years ago. We are building on our rich history with ever more expanding artistic possibilities.
What is the MAC Sale?
The word MAC represents the first letters of Mary Ann Carney’s name. This sale began in 1984 when friends of Mary Ann Carney established the fund in her memory.
Who was Mary Ann Carney?
Mary Ann was an active member of the Pottery Studio in the 1970’s and 1980s and served on the SCAA Board of Directors. She was dedicated to the pottery program and devoted her time and dynamic personality to improving the studio. According to those who knew her it was Mary Ann’s humor and focused energy that made her someone who offered timely prodding to do what must be done. They also noted she served as a much needed conscience and helped to keep perspectives in order.
The following people contributed to the original Memorial Fund:
Mr. and Mrs. Howard W. Barnes
Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Bass
Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Ohlin
Mr. and Mrs. William Stewart
Mr. and Mrs. Elliot Roberts
The purpose of the fund when it was established (and which continues to this day) was to:
Today, each year in May the SCAA holds the MAC sale during the Kingston Hill Fair. This sale offers the community ‘quality seconds’ of the beautiful pottery created in the SCAA Pottery studio. All proceeds are used for the Pottery Education Program.
The MAC fund is an example of how a few generous people created a loving legacy in memory of a special friend and potter. One person’s caring really makes a difference. SCAA will still accept legacy gifts to the MAC fund for the pottery program.
Contact Jen Ferry, Executive Director at
firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.