MISSION + VALUES + HISTORY
The mission of Art League Houston is to connect the community through diverse, dynamic, and creative experiences that bring people together to see, make, and talk about contemporary visual art.
Founded in 1948, Art League Houston has radically evolved beyond the parameters of traditional art leagues. While keeping the core of the art league model – a robust membership deeply committed to the value of visual art in contemporary life – Art League Houston embraces contemporary approaches to curatorial programming, community-building, art education, and outreach to under resourced communities.
Inclusivity: We welcome all members of our diverse community and seek opportunities for interaction and access. Art - and therefore Art League Houston - is for everyone.
Creativity: We are passionate about the power of creativity to inspire individuals to action and to facilitate understanding among people. Creativity is at the heart of everything we do.
Learning: We provide opportunities for people to learn about art, themselves, and each other. Learning permeates all of our programs.
Service: We exist to benefit the Greater Houston community. We enrich people's lives, improve quality of life and contribute to the vitality of our city.
Evolution: We change and grow with our city and the arts landscape. We look to the future while celebrating our past.
Celebrating its 65th anniversary in 2013, Art League Houston is one of Houston’s oldest non-profit art organizations. It was established in 1948 by a group of sixteen artists as member organization whose mission was to design a building that would house a studio workshop and gallery for the continual exhibition of artwork by local artists.
In its early years, Art League Houston sponsored many exhibitions and lectures including the annual “Spring Arts Festival” in the exhibitions hall of the Shamrock Hotel. By the fall of 1953, Art League Houston had become a non-profit organization, signed-up its 300th member, and staged the first ever outdoor art fair at Hermann Park.
By 1956, Art League Houston had raised enough capital to build its first permanent building, which was designed by architect Paul Elliot and built on property leased to them at 906 Tuam St. After eleven years, the land was sold and in 1968, Art League Houston purchased and moved into two connected, circa 1920s houses located at 1953 Montrose, where the Art League Houston adult art school was established later that year.
In 1973, Art League Houston had registered its 780’s member and celebrated its 25th anniversary. By 1983, Art League Houston established the Texas Artist of the Year Award, and six years later, expanded the award to include the Texas Patron of the Year.
In 1990, Art League Houston established its free Healing Art program for adults living with HIV/AIDS, and in 1995, expanded the program to serve the needs of adults living with other severe illnesses including cancer, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, and physical disabilities.
Fifteen years later in 2005, Art League Houston kicked off a capital campaign to raise $1 million toward a new 6,000-square-foot contemporary building. During the fundraising campaign, Art League Houston invited Dan Havel and Dean Ruck to create Inversion, a temporary installation using the old Art League Houston building.
In 2007, the new Art League Houston building designed by Houston architect Irving Phillips, has its grand opening. In 2008, Art League Houston established ArtBound!, a free in-school visual arts residency, which places professional teaching artists in Houston I.S.D. Title I elementary schools with little or no visual arts instruction.
In 2013, Art League Houston established the Lifetime Achievement Award in the Visual Arts to celebrate artists who have made a long-term commitment and outstanding contribution to the visual art world in Texas, and also celebrated the organizations 65th anniversary.