Association celebrates 60th anniversary

The Arts Association of Bellville (Art.b) celebrated its 60th anniversary with an exhibition, 60×60, on Wednesday May 9.

Art.b supports established and emerging artists and exhibits their work.

A non-profit, it is a branch of the South African National Association of Visual Art.

Keynote speaker Johan Coetzee, who has been involved with the association for 40 years, reflected on its highs and lows since its founding at the old Bellville library in Kruskal Avenue, in 1958.

Later it operated from a studio at the late Burgert Naude’s home.

In 1989, Mr Naude negotiated to have the association move into the library’s new premises in Carl van Aswegen Street, where it is today and has an art gallery and art centre.

The association started the annual Vuleka Art Competition in 1963, drawing entries from now prominent artists such as William Kentridge (winner 1980), Sue Williamson, Pippa Skotnes and Andries Gouws.

In 1990, Marilyn Martin, then director of Iziko Museum, opened a prestigious gala art exhibition at the gallery featuring works of, among others, Kentridge, Conrad Theys and Frans Claerhout.

Mr Coetzee said the gallery had had some interesting experiences over the years from a model taking her clothes off during an exhibition – which made headlines across the province – to having exhibitions closed down because they deemed “inappropriate”.

“I can’t believe that I’ve been part of the association for 40 years, it doesn’t feel like 40 years,” he said.

The exhibition will run until Saturday June 9, Tuesdays to Fridays from 10am to 5pm and Saturdays from 10am to 1pm.