Mary O. Fritchie Art Show
ADMINISTRATOR: Connie Sekulski
Office Hours: Wednesday through Saturday 11AM – 4PM
Address: 7 Glovers Lane,
Westhampton Beach, NY 11978
History of the Mary O. Fritchie Outdoor Juried Fine Art Show
Mary O. Fritchie
January 19, 1920 – April 11, 2011
Outdoor Fine Art Festivals have graced the beautiful village of Westhampton Beach since the late 1930s. Back in the day, visiting artists started to gather with their paints, easels and canvases on the sidewalks along Main Street each summer for a weekend in August to share their techniques. Each year word spread of the informal gathering of talent in our beachfront village and more and more artists started appearing every year. The first documented gathering that we have come across on record is in the summer of 1937. As the decades continued, weekend showings along Main Street sometimes turned into longer events that spanned a week and even two weekends.By the early 1950s Main Street in Westhampton Beach became dotted with artists clad in paint smocks and their talented hands holding paint brushes dabbling in watercolor and acrylic or fervently etching in pencil or ink. Community members, local artists and area business leaders started formally organizing the artists in the late 1950s and promoting the artistic gathering as a week-long event.In the early 1960s, one individual seemed to take the lead in orchestrating the annual summer assembly of artists in Westhampton Beach, local businesswoman Mary Ocame Fritchie. As the August turnout escalated to over 40 fine artists, Fritchie turned to the directors of the Greater Westhampton Chamber of Commerce in the mid-1960s for assistance in promoting the outdoor fine art show that had grown in the community. Main Street Westhampton Beach had now become the premiere artist event on the East End of Long Island attracting visitors each August from all over Long Island, New York City and points much farther away. The shows continued to grow each year with the involvement and structure of the local business community and chamber of commerce. Westhampton Beach was now a destination for those desiring fine art and was attracting international talent.After many years of leading the way and setting the high standards of producing quality art events in the community, Ms. Fritchie passed the duty of art show director on to the volunteer board of directors of the Greater Westhampton Chamber of Commerce in 1970. In the spring of 1972, the executive board of directors honored Frichie by naming the annual Westhampton Beach summer art show event The Mary O. Fritchie Outdoor Juried Fine Art Show. Over the course of the years since the 1970s, we have seen the art show under the direction of many local volunteer individuals, most recently John David, Sarah Mendenhall-Luhmer and Kris Vanderslice.
In the mid 1980s, the size of the annual art show outgrew Main Street and the show was moved to the Westhampton Beach Village Green and Gazebo with over 80 fine artists. In the late 1980s chamber directors developed a poster contest inviting local artists to submit their work for consideration for an annual summer poster as a means to both promote and commemorate the art show, praise local artistic talents and generate revenue for Greater Chamber of Commerce with the proceeds of reprinted, artist signed and numbered limited edition posters.
By the late 1990s the size of the art show was doubled and artists were allowed to line the portion of Mill Road between Main Street and Church Street adjacent to the Village Green location. The caliber of the annual art show event in Westhampton Beach escalated each year as the jury selection process became more stringent and competitive thus gaining higher notoriety as one of the most respected art shows in the northeast.
Today, the executive board of directors of the Greater Westhampton Chamber of Commerce continue with the tradition of producing an annual summer poster contest, as well as orchestrating the Annual Mary O. Fritchie Outdoor Juried Fine Art Show. Although many recognize nearly 75 years of organized art in Westhampton Beach, the board of directors uses the 1972 date of when the art show was renamed in Ms. Fritchie’s honor in commemorating the annual event.
This year posters will be produced and available for sale by Memorial Day Weekend. Nearly all of the commemorative summer posters from over the years are available for purchase in the Greater Westhampton Chamber of Commerce office located at 7 Glovers Lane off Main Street in Westhampton Beach. Unframed posters are available at the cost of $35 tax included. A few of the early posters are now officially sold out while one poster as been officially retired from further retail sales and all proceeds donated to the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center restoration endeavors in the early 1990s.
In honor of Mary O. Fritchie and her vision for creating a premiere art event in the Greater Westhampton community, the executive board of directors of the Greater Westhampton Chamber of Commerce have established an annual scholarship in the amount of $1000 to a graduating senior of the Westhampton Beach High School who excels in fine art and intends to enroll in a four-year higher education program with the intent to major in art or art education.