History of Echo Valley Art Group

"Echo Valley" was the name of the Cleves Dodge farm on the south edge of Neffsville, PA. That's where in 1945, Peggy P. Dodge and a few friends began to meet weekly in a farm building to study and practice art. Their instructor was Pauline Stauffer, an accomplished artist and Lancaster High School art teacher. In the first year, the group had grown to over 20 people but all was very informal and unstructured, the group gathering to make friends and create art and generally have fun.

By the end of the first decade, which was also the country's first decade after WWII , art had begun to gain a strong foothold in Lancaster County. This was encouraged by the high level of art instruction in schools and colleges, and the influx of professional artists and designers being employed by the expanding local industries. In the 1950's and 60's, Echo Valley gained many of these local professionals to their membership, who must have welcomed the opportunity to make social contact with like-minded peers and exhibit work with them. It was at this point that the group formalized its existence with by-laws and a limited membership of 25 active members, which it still maintains today.

Echo Valley Art Group Auction Drawing by Dick Whitson

Local artists are still drawn to membership in the Echo Valley Art Group for these same reasons, to pull together their creative expressions in annual group exhibits and meet monthly in a social setting to share experiences as artists, to discuss their work and current art events, and to organize their annual exhibit of new work and other exhibits. The group also holds an annual art auction with the intent of sharing their artwork with their community and collectors, and to raise funds to support the arts in Lancaster. The auction is now annually held at Rader Park on the grounds of the Church of the Apostles on Marietta Avenue in Lancaster, to provide a casual outdoor setting for the public to meet the artists and purchase their work. The annual auction has become a well-known and fun event for collectors to find great buys for additions to their collections.

Echo Valley Art Group membership is by invitation. The group selects artists for nomination based on their exhibition history and career development, their participation in the arts community and on what they might add to the group.

Echo Valley contributes, financially and in other ways, to the support of various local visual art establishments including the Lancaster County Young Artists Awards Program, the Lancaster Museum of Art, the Demuth Foundation, the Lancaster County Library, and others. The current members list represents a wide range of artistic styles and forms of expression which are matched by their individual ways of participating in the visual arts community of Lancaster County. All of the artists have excellent reputations and histories of involvement in the art community of Lancaster.