It’s one of the oldest women's art organizations in the country.
The Athena Art Society was started in November 1903 by Nina Spaulding Stevens, the wife of the director of the newly created Toledo Museum of Art. Athena was formed to "assist and encourage women in all branches of the fine arts." The majority of the original members were painters, printmakers, musicians and writers. The group met for two sketch sessions a week, plus a monthly social evening during which artwork was displayed, readings were given, and instrumental selections.
Athena's mission has always been to promote and develop the visual arts, stimulate further community participation in art, sponsor demonstrations, seminars, internships, and exhibitions, and provide instruction for the members and the community.
Athena offers scholarships to young women in the arts. Each year, two scholarships are given to high school students, and two to college students.
Throughout its history, Athena membership has included many of the area’s most well-known women artists. Athena members continuously receive awards for their work locally, regionally and nationally.
Today, the members of the Athena Art Society embrace and acknowledge the rich heritage of the society’s past and share their creative gifts to keep the beauty of the arts for all.
We asked a number of current Athena members to tell us about their art, and their creative process.
The pandemic has freed up my time to experiment with my painting. I have time to play with different materials, try different techniques, and to be in touch with my inner self. Following art museums and artists virtually has been a valuable resource when I’m not sure where the next step in my painting should go—the hardest part for me. At the beginning, painting is automatic and comes easily. Then, my background knowledge takes over to pull the painting together. I build up layers of shapes and colors while I’m scraping into other layers. At the same time, I explore with mixed media in my artwork to add texture and dimension. Just recently, the Toledo Artist Club has opened. Having other artists around has energized my thirst for discussing art.
My love for American Frame has gone back to my days in art school. They’ve always been supportive and have suggested new ideas to showcase my art.
I have always enjoyed combining text and art, even as a kid writing horse stories with pictures. Later I branched out into note cards, brochures, t-shirts, a book of my dance poetry, and a children’s book, “The Middle Princess.” I pursued design at BGSU (Bowling Green State University) before the advent of computers. I used these skills in administrative positions in New York City years ago. I love color and texture. For a while I did my own version of macramé wraps, and I pursued pottery—hand building and extruding—studying with Julie Beutler, and others. When I got Lyme disease, the effects forced me to stop all of that. Now I love to create collage and alcohol ink abstracts and dreamscapes. I also seem to be going full circle to create new text and alcohol ink magic, including an art collage story and a book inspired by it.