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4:07 AM Thu, Nov. 15th

Guild flourishes in its Alarcon Street home

"We feel like our gallery is getting well-established and better-known," said Nel Osborn, the guild's office manager, adding that the guild's ownership of the gallery space allows for reasonable prices, since it doesn't pay rent or pay employees to sit through the shows.

Osborn also pointed out two special rooms in the building: the Ritter Room (a small purple room off the main gallery) and the Wanda Zolman library (a small library and workroom off one of the workshop rooms).

The Ritter Room, Osborn said, is named for Betty Ritter, local artist and art advocate, because "she and her son just did so much."

And the Wanda Zolman library is named for Zolman, who "organized single-handedly, for 15 years, all of the (guild's) workshops."

She taped the workshops, too, and those tapes are in her library.

Alice Gunter, a member of the MAG, said she prefers the guild's space on Alarcon Street to its old space at Ruth Street.

"Ruth Street was very small and very dark, and it wasn't really an atmosphere for artists to work in," she said. "Artists like lots of light."

Also, the new building has more space for workshops, and an artist can spend time in the workroom and then step immediately into the gallery to view a friend's work.

"The gallery has really become part of MAG," she said. "The meeting and workrooms and gallery used to be separate entities, but now they're all tied together closely physically and artistically."

From its first meeting Oct. 28, 1949, which included founding member George Phippen, MAG has seen change. Member Carol Balzarini put together a history of the guild from that meeting until the present day. The members originally met in a drugstore's back room. In the sixties, they met at the Sharlot Hall Museum, but the guild didn't have a permanent home.

In the seventies, the guild's focus shifted from artists getting together to learn, to artists getting together to sell their work. In 1981, the guild bought a house at Hillside and Ruth Streets. On Nov. 8, 2002, MAG moved into its latest permanent home. Membership currently is 400 artists, 120 of them active members. The guild awarded five $1,000 scholarships to students continuing their education, and the guild has two annual shows.

For more information on the MAG, a nonprofit organization, visit www.mountainartistsguild.org.