Neighborhood Highlights

Douglaston Art League (Now, National Art League)

The development of a community connected to the city at large is illustrated in the founding and continuity of the Douglaston Art League in 1930, and still active today (now known as the National Art League, located at 44-21 Douglaston Parkway). The League was founded by Mrs. Arthur Sullivan and Miss Helen Chase - sisters and daughters of New York painter William Merritt Chase - along with other residents and north shore artists who were "interested in arousing amore general appreciation of art in the community and in providing a means for practical development of individual talents." Architect Aubrey Grantham (Zion Episcopal Church) was among the founders. The League's early exhibits and classes were held in the backroom of a beauty shop and its second show was exhibited in the Parish Hall of Zion Church.

National Art League

In the first quarter of the 20th Century, there existed a thriving arts and theater colony in Douglaston. It included such luminaries as Ginger Rogers, Hedda Hopper, Annette Kellerman, Robert Haggart, George Grosz and many others. A natural consequence of this artistic climate was the establishment of the National Art League (NAL), presently located on Douglaston Parkway. The NAL, originally called the Douglaston Art League (DAL), was founded in 1932. The DAL was the brainchild of the daughters of American Impressionist painter, William Meritt Chase, along with Aubrey Grantham, the architect for the rebuilt Zion Church, James Boudreau, Director of Pratt Institute, and most notably Trygve Hammer, sculptor and wood carver. A naturalized citizen by 1913, Hammer designed rooms for the University of Pittsburgh, the Scofield Memorial Library, and the Waldorf Astoria. Locally, his imprint on the Zion Church remains in his wood carvings there.

The Zion Church has been intertwined with the DAL from the start, not just by virtue of its relationship with the founding members. Reverend Riley is credited with becoming the second patron of the Art League after permitting the exhibition of Chases's art work at the church. This exhibit caught the attention of the NY Press as well as the art world.

The North Shore Daily Journal, dated November 2, 1933, announced the first exhibit, held at 40-41 Douglaston Parkway, home of the Manor Beauty Salon, and loaned to the DAL by Lucas Mack, making him the first patron of the Art League.

The DAL eventually moved to a location in Flushing, and became known as the Art League of Long Island. Guiseppi Trotta, a portrait painter of men on both the Supreme and New York Bench, lent his studio in Flushing out to the League. Subsequent to the relocation, several articles in the LI Star Journal and Society indicate that the objective of the Art League "to stimulate public interest in the Arts" continued to be met. On February 21, 1948, the Journal reported the addition of painting and sketching from life to its instruction. According to Frank L. Moratz, the director of classes, this resulted in "booming business" for the League. There were published announcements of lectures, and on March 14, 1948, Society announced the opening of the spring exhibition. It should be noted that Mr. Moratz was a mural and portrait painter who also sponsored an exhibit for the Red Cross at Flushing Library. It was hoped that through innovative programs and exhibitions of this sort, the League could continue successfully and might one day have a permanent home.

Louisa Gibala brought this to fruition with her tireless efforts in 1955. The League now resides permanently at 44-21 Douglaston Parkway. In 1968 it established the name that hangs above that address, the "National Art League".

By: Ellen Dermigny, May 10, 2002

National Art League a Hidden Treasure

From the Queens Ledger*Glendale Register*-LIC/Jackson Heights Journal*Forest Hills Times*Leader/Observer*Queens Examiner, May 24, 2001, page 22

By Judi Willing

Hidden in Douglaston is an organization for serious artists. It is run by men and women committed to the idea that artists need to be nurtured. Whilst the creative process dictates that an artist should primarily create for him/herself rather than for a patron, there is no doubt that the creative process can be stimulated by contact with others - patrons and other artists.

To this end, the National Art League offers a location where successful artists teach, lecture and 'cheer those that need encouragement.' In return they are offered the opportunity to learn from other artists, and further their careers by showing their work regularly in exhibition and receive encouragement themselves in the form of awards and prizes.

The National Arts League is a non-profit organization open to all artists and lay members of the public. To join as an artist member, three works of art must be submitted to a judging committee. The annual membership is $25, and artist members can submit works for consideration in the League's exhibitions and win awards. Last year there were 12 exhibitions in different categories-students, children, members, teachers, photography.

Non-artists can also join for $25 per annum, or at higher levels of sponsorship. Members can enjoy classes in watercolors, oil or mixed media (acrylic, collage and sculpture) - $15-20 per 3 hour class during the day or evening. There is a library, group trips to galleries, and studio space available. There are special workshops where artists talk about their methods and techniques. There is a course starting in graphic design, probably in September.

Currently the Spring Open Exhibition can be viewed. On Sunday May 20, 2001 between 1 and 4pm, there will be a reception for the artists, and awards given. The National Arts League is at 44-21 Douglaston Parkway, Douglaston, NY 11363. Telephone 718 224-3957. E-mail: artworknal@aol.com

Website: www.nationalartleague.org. If you are seriously interested in art, the National Art League is interested in you, and can offer a lot in return.