A Brief History of the Franklin County Art Alliance

The Chambersburg Art Association had its beginnings in 1942, when they gathered at the residence of
Miss Louise Mowrey, but there were no exhibits for several years. Godfrey Biehl arrived in
Chambersburg in June of 1943 and organized a group of 12 local artists, including Louise Mowrey, at a
meeting held on October 11 of that year. Mr. Biehl was the first president of the group and is generally
regarded as the founder of the Chambersburg Art Association.

The 1st Chambersburg Art Association Annual Exhibit was held in Dec. of 1944 at the Market House
Third Street. They continued their annual shows through 1971, but the month was changed to April in
‘48. In 1957, the 13th was held in Chambersburg High School where it was held for many years. The 25th
and 26th Chambersburg Art Association shows were held at Wilson College in ‘70 and ‘71. At the final
exhibit in 1971, young Jeff Barnhart took first and the veteran Louise Mowrey took second in the
watercolor division; Jeff also won Best in Show with his oil.

In 1954 Godfrey Biehl started a second organization, the Biehl Fine Arts Alumni Association. It also held
an art exhibit annually through 1971. We know that the 4th Annual Exhibit was held in April 1957 at the
St. John’s Evangelical and Reform Church School. At that time the president was Harry Forbes. The 7th
Annual Biehl Fine Arts exhibit gave its location as St. John’s United Church of Christ. This location was
used for all annual exhibits of the Biehl Association through May of 1971.

By 1971 both groups were struggling for survival, and 14 members of both organizations met at Mrs.
Bonnie Ramer’s home to plan the merger of the two clubs. And thus The Chambersburg Art Alliance was
born. Officers pro tem were chosen:  Jeryl C. Miller, president, and Mrs. Ramer, vice-president. In early
1972, elections were held and Robert Stanley became president and Jeryl C. Miller vice-president. A
constitution and by-laws were adopted.

The Chambersburg Art Alliance held its 1st annual art exhibit in June ‘72 at St. John’s United Church of
Christ. It continued the tradition annually at St. John’s through June ‘88. Then the Alliance recognized
its regional representation, and changed its name to The Franklin County Art Alliance. It sponsored an
Oct. Art Fest / Franklin County Art Exhibit. In June ‘89, the 18th annual Alliance art exhibit was held by
the Franklin County Art Alliance. The 87-88 officers were unchanged in 88-89: pres., Dorothy Yoh, and
vice-pres., Bettie Rae Gallagher. Anne Finucane and Jean Strike were on the Board of Directors. The
use of St. John’s lasted through 2004. In 2005 the annual show was held at Calvary United Methodist
Church, Fayetteville, Pa., where it has remained.

Our founder, Godfrey F. Biehl, celebrated his 90th birthday in Feb. 1967 and passed away on August 24,
1970. In 1974, special memorial awards were established to be awarded each year at the annual Alliance
Art Exhibit: the E. Louise Mowrey Award for Best of Show: Watercolor and the Godfrey F. Biehl Award for
Best of Show: Oil Landscape.

Compiled by Tom Venturella for the December 9, 2009, Holiday Party
Thanks to:  Jean Strike, Anne Finucane, Jeff Barnhart

Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 July 2010 05:28