Venerable Ventura arts group marks milestone

Sacred Spring, Delphi by Gerd Koch. Courtesy of BAA

A free, four-day exhibition at the Museum of Ventura County next month will celebrate seven colorful decades of cultural contributions by members of the Buenaventura Art Association.

Visitors can enjoy “Retrospective: BAA’s 70th Anniversary Celebration” from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. June 13-16 in the Martin V. and Martha K. Smith Pavilion. A reception from 1-3 p.m. Saturday, June 15 will feature awarding an Honorary Lifetime Membership to a couple of current members for service to the group and the area arts community, plus a presentation about recent BAA accomplishments.

Distinguished top-tier BAA artists, both current and past, and their collectors are lending pieces for the show, which will include artworks by Gerd Koch, Norman Kirk, Dorothy Hunter, Hiroko Yoshimoto, Gail Pidduck, Len Poteshman, Rex Kochel, Don Fay, Margy Gates, Carlos Grasso and more than 20 others, many of them BAA Honorary Lifetime Members.

The association’s roots date to the April 1954 founding with city help of the Ventura Arts and Crafts Association to promote interest in and participation by schoolchildren, adults, and professional and amateur artists. The group arranged art classes, exhibits and an annual Ventura arts festival. Initial endeavors also included drama, dance, literature, minerals and rocks, and science as well as painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography and weaving.

A formal meeting a month later at the Pierpont Inn set the association’s structure, leadership and goals, and work began on bylaws and articles of incorporation. The first general meeting was Sept. 24, 1954, and that year 76 people paid dues to join. Charter members paid $5 that first year, then general memberships were $3 a year. Students paid $1, and a lifetime membership cost $100.

The association currently operates Studio 99 in Bell Arts Factory, 432 N. Ventura Ave., downtown Ventura, and Harbor Village Gallery & Gifts, 1559 Spinnaker Drive, Suite 106, in Ventura Harbor. For more about BAA and its programs, phone the gallery at 805-648-1235 or visit

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