IN the early 1950s, a group of art lovers realized the need for a formal art organization in Beaufort and formed the Beaufort Art Association.
"There have always been a lot of artists here because this is such a wonderful place to paint," said Beaufort resident Renee Levin.
As one of the founding members of the association, she remembers sitting in the first board meeting, at which the group agreed to start the venture.
A few years later, that same group decided to host an art show. The first show consisted of about 50 paintings hung on the outside wall of a dry goods store in downtown Beaufort.
A half-century later, the 200-member nonprofit group is still going strong and is now hosting its 50th annual Spring Art Show and Sale.
"It's going to be a fabulous show this year," Levin said. "We've got a lot of really good work."
The show will consist of a wide variety of media, including oil, acrylic, watercolor, photography, digital art, pottery, sculpture and basketry. The group received almost 250 entries. Savannah artist William Armstrong judged the works, and the group awarded about $4,000 to the winning artists.
Among the winners are local high school students, who competed for a $200 award in memory of association member Geneva Litchfield.
"The wonderful thing about this show is it's a non-juried show," Levin said. "There are very few shows like that around."
She said anyone can enter a non-juried show -- you don't have to be an experienced artist and judged by a jury just to get your work in the show. Levin said the same goes for the art association.
"You do not have to be an artist," she said. "Anybody who's interested in the arts, please become a part of it."
Located in the historic Elliott House at the corner of Bay and Charles streets in downtown Beaufort, the association will soon move its headquarters a few doors down to 913 Bay St. Members decided the new location would be more convenient for people to visit. The grand opening is planned for April 15. Patrons are encouraged to stop by and peruse the artwork. Ask to see the association's scrapbooks, which detail almost the entire history of the group's existence with photos, posters and newspaper clippings.