The San Antonio Art League was organized in March 13, 1912. Representing several art groups, the founders sought to achieve a three-fold goal; to provide artists with a place to exhibit their works, to acquire paintings for the public's enjoyment, and to found an art school.
In 1926, the Art League began what was to become a 45 year alliance with the Witte Museum, sharing space. A dream was realized in 1927 when the Museum of Art school was born.
During 1927, 1928, and 1929 the San Antonio Art League conducted the Texas Wildflowers Competitive Exhibitions. These competitions were made possible through the generosity of Edgar B. Davis. The Davis Competitions, as they became popularly known, proved to be among the most significant cultural events in Texas during those formative years of the twentieth century.
The Art League experienced encouraging progress until World War II. In early 1942, the school closed for "the duration". Mrs. Marion Koogler McNay, a wealthy arts patron, and graduate of the Chicago Art Institute, assessed the situation. Thanks to her generosity, the Art League continued classes in a spacious aviary on the McNay Estate.
Then, circumstances forced another move, this time to the Belgian Pavilion at HemisFair Plaza. After a brief stay, the Art League moved again to the Koehler Cultural Center. The Otto Koehlers had given their mansion to San Antonio Community College, and Mrs. Koehler requested that they allow the San Antonio Art League to office there.
Needs grew, times changed, and the Art League once again needed a home. More security and proper temperature control were prime requisites. The ideal opportunity arose in the King William Historic District, one of San Antonio's most notably distinguished areas. Within this highly restricted and historical environment the home for SAAL&M is, at last, a permanent place.
Cherry Tree in a Snow Storm, Bill Bristow, Julian Onderdonk Memorial Purchase Prize, 1961.
Annual San Antonio Artists Exhibition - Onderdonk Prize:
Each year the San Antonio Art League Museum sponsors a juried Exhibition. This annual San Antonio Artists Exhibition grew out of the fabled Edgar B. Davis Competitions of the late 1920s. Although perhaps not as spectacular in scope as the Davis Exhibitions of 1927, 1928, and 1929, the Annual San Antonio Artists Competitions are juried events and the purchase prizes will add to the permanent collection of the San Antonio Art League Museum (SAALM).
List of Onderdonk Winners
Ethel T. Drought Founders Award:
2018 Awardees are Terry Gay Puckett and Val Alexander
The Ethel T. Drought Founders Award for outstanding contribution to the Arts is awarded to an art patron in May. Previous recipients are: