The Wednesday Art Club

Black Spokane's Leading Cultural Organization

The Wednesday Art Club of Spokane was much more than an art club. The African-American women-lead organization gave back to a city that did not always recognize them.

The Wednesday Art Club was founded in July of 1913 in Spokane Washington. The organization was lead by African-American women, who not only held art shows but strived to better the Black community in Spokane. The art shows that were held highlighted African-American artists from across the nation.

In 1936 the organization held what historian Dwayne A. Mack called "the clubs greatest connection to the broader black art world." The art exhibit was held at the Grace Campbell museum which highlighted 28 prominent Black artists such as Teodoro Ramos Blanco, Malvin Gray Johnson, Aaron Douglas and William Arthur Cooper. Their works were diverse, from oil paintings to bronze statues. This type of event was done yearly by the club, Mayme Lee was often the women who chaired these exhibits.

The Wednesday Art Club also hosted a charity ball. The first was held a year after the club was founded in 1914, and raised money to provide a fund for “needy colored people of the city may be aided this winter." The club also held meetings with the community that centered important topics such as American citizenship or the role of churches on the home front. Cultural festivals were held as well, in 1972 the club hosted a “Negro Week," which featured performances and speakers such as Spokane civil rights leader Carl Maxey. They also hosted more lighthearted events such as comedy shows, that featured an all women cast.

The Wednesday Art Club featured a program that taught Black history to the public, while also having a “Tiny Tim” fund in which gave college scholarships to students. Tuberculosis was on the rise in the early 1900s, so The Wednesday Art Club helped make Christmas seals to raise money for treatment.

The Wednesday Art Club connected with other women-led groups throughout the community. The club had prominent members like Mrs. Eleanor Chase, wife of James Chase the first African-American mayor in the city. The members of this organization had a deep history, club member Marie Maley descended from one of the first black families in Spokane. She was the granddaughter of freed slaves and born on a slave plantation. Though the Wednesday Art Club seemed to disband somewhere in the 1980’s, their legacy in the Spokane community is still seen today as an organization that wanted better for all.