Reflections on the early days of the HAA
by Angus Bowie Wilson
Enter the cocktail party!
A gentleman had just entered the party, complete with wife, clipboard, and sharp pencils. After he had walked around, shaking hands with thefolks he knew, he came to me. This retired infantry colonel, with hand extended, was about to change my life, and screw up my life’s work.
“Boatman’s my name, and painting is my game! Do you paint, Angus?” “Of course, a little”, was my reply. Dale Boatman told me he gave classes in watercolor painting. Would I be interested? This all happened sometime in the seventies – 1970, not 1870.
There were nine of us in Boatman’s class. We traveled to all sorts of places for the Sunday class – a movie set north of Sonoita where John Wayne and numerous othermovie “greats” made the movies, and also Rancho del Rio down by Hereford, to Tombstone, Texas Canyon, Rain Valley Ranch, Sunnyside, Fairbank and Bisbee. We ended up with photographs and sketches to take back to our “studios” and got to work on painting for the next upcoming critique, later in the week. Boatman would always manage to paint a tree before the class started, to whet our mouths at the beauty of his work.
I was introduced to Frank Ivey. Frank had never wet a brush, but he and Dale Boatman began to build what would be named the “Huachuca Art Association”. It was no great leap that all the Boatman students would join the new association. This happened in 1969. A Board was formed, and we would meet at the new Community
Center in Sierra Vista. The folks in charge did well, and we started to have professional artists come down to Sierra Vista and do painting demonstrations for our members at the Community Center. I served as President for about two and a half years in the seventies, until I had to move to Phoenix. The Association would meet in the Mona Bishop room for a period of time, before I left. Mona had been my Secretary when I was President.
Mr. and Mrs. Zim Brown were very active in the Association. Though not artists themselves, they pitched in with hard work and generous donations. They purchased the carpet for the Mona Bishop room, among other materials required. I was not privy to the reason why the association had to move from the Mona Bishop room. When I was President, the board meetings were held in my business office. We had fun. Later, a gentleman named Rosemund, an architect by profession, was elected President. The Association was at this time in the throes of seeking “not for profit” status. Zim Brown and Mr. Rosemund worked very hard for long periods of time, meeting with government people and such. Rosemund had completed some sketches for a new studio. However, he moved on, and we never did get any land for our “dream studio and showroom”.
Art in the Park was being talked about and was first set in place in the seventies. We held our Members’ shows and Open Shows in all kinds of places- the Methodist Church that was located where Walgreen’s now stands, the Culliver Auto showroom (now Lawley’s), various motels, and the (once) Valley Bank on Willcox Drive. Boatman’s classes moved around, from his studio on Mockingbird to the Thunderbird Motel, and to his new studio close to the golf course. We used to have “Patron’s Choice” artworks at the shows, available to local merchants for reduced prices, okayed by the artists. Dale Boatman’s works were on display in most of the motels, and sold very well. We were always on the lookout for a property that would serve as a permanent
home for the Association. I almost suggested the old Fry house on Fry Blvd, before it burned to the ground.
I’m sorry I have lost the details in my Memories of the Huachuca Art Association, but I am proud to have been a member for most of the time I have lived here, when Sierra Vista itself was, like the Association - a fledgling, growing, living enterprise. Some day, when the “Dream Studio” is complete, and filled with art and artists, it will be like walking on the moon- a dream no more.
Angus Bowie Wilson, as told to Liz Horning, December 12, 2012.
The HAA was granted “Non-Profit” status in June of 1978.
Art in the Park has been with us as a major source of revenue for the Association since 1971.
For several years in the 1990’s, the City of Sierra Vista paid for the Association’s rental of a gallery space on Fry Blvd, in compensation for vacating the Mona Bishop room, but mostly in compensation for a $40,000 donation that the HAA had made
toward the construction of the new Library (with the understanding that there would be space available in that new building for the HAA to have a permanent home. The Fry Blvd. gallery lasted until those funds ran out. After that, the Association rented a space on Astro St. in Hereford that served as a combination gallery/studio. Then, in 2011, the HAA was able to rent gallery space at the Sierra Vista Mall, thereby allowing the Astro St. location to be used as studio space only. Then in 2015, the Association was finally able to purchase their own building at 1835 Paseo San Luis, Sierra Vista. After extensive renovations, this, our present gallery/studio space, opened for business in June of 2016.
Angus Wilson passed away in 2018, but not before he was able to visit and work in the new studio.