Throughout its history the Philadelphia Sketch Club has had on its membership rolls a number of artists who made their livelihood as commercial artists. While these commercial efforts occupied a great deal of their time, these artists enjoyed the creative challenge in producing fine art in many mediums. It was even more pleasing when you had other artists in similar situations that share these efforts and a strong mentor to guide their progress. Such a situation was enjoyed by George Beatty and some of his friends in the 1930s. George Beatty worked as an advertising artist for the Whiting Patterson Paper Company. He joined the Sketch Club in 1931 and served on its Board of Directors, reflecting respect from his fellow members. Beatty and several other members enjoyed the art and friendship of Earl “Bill” Horter. Horter was a successful commercial artist and fine artist. He was also a prolific and proficient etcher.
As recorded in the catalogue of an exhibition that was done to honor Horter after his death in 1940, several artists took up the fine art of etching after lunching one afternoon at the Venture Gardens, a restaurant still located near the Sketch Club on Camac Street. George Beatty was one of the artists in attendance who took up the challenge of etching. It all started when someone said, “Quit kidding, Bill, making etchings must be a cinch or you couldn’t bat ’em out like an amorous rabbit.” Horter replied, “Sure, it’s a cinch. I could even take this crowd of morons and make etchers out of ’em.” And so “The Gang” began, meeting one night a week for several weeks to study etching with Earl “Bill” Horter.
Etchings in this exhibition were produced by George Beatty and some of the other artists in “The Gang.” We thank Mary Allison Owens, George Beatty’s daughter, for donating these items to the Philadelphia Sketch Club and to her daughter, Barbara Van Buskirk, for helping to arrange the donation.