Women in the arts invite others to join their La Jolla ‘support’ group
By Leigh Ann Dewey
A multi-talented group of women working in the arts is looking to welcome other such women to their “club.”
The La Jolla chapter of the National League of Pen Women, composed of professionals in the writing, art and music fields, will hold its 28th annual holiday luncheon from 1 to 3 p.m. Dec. 28 in the Seminar Room of the La Jolla Library, 7555 Draper Ave. Admission is free and the public is invited. Members will perform original poetry, prose and music, and refreshments will be served.
“With our combined knowledge and skills,” said president Sandi Nielubowicz, “we plan to reach out to women of all ages in La Jolla and beyond, to create more proficient professional artists, musicians and writers.” By doing so, she said, the group hopes to add members to the La Jolla chapter.
Now 30 members strong, the group is planning workshops, essay and art contests to encourage women to express their talents and connect with others who have been earning money for their creative work for many years.
The oldest multi-discipline organization in the United States, the National League of Pen Women was established more than 100 years ago. Today, with 135 branches across the country, the group’s goal is to promote members’ accomplishments, and conduct outreach programs that encourage women to pursue their artistic dreams and become members.
The La Jolla branch was established in 1954, and meets the fourth Tuesday of each month at the La Jolla Library. It is the only chapter of the organization in San Diego County.
During meetings, members share their accomplishments, such as recently published works, and the process that keeps them growing as artists. While members now range from ages 50 to 90, Nielubowicz said the group is encouraging younger women to become members.
Women come from all walks of life, she said, and have discovered the group in a variety of ways.
Twelve-year member Beverly Green, 92, a Santee resident who has lived in San Diego County since 1943, is an opera singer whose career has included work with the San Diego Opera and other Starlight Musical Theater. She heard about the Pen Women through friends “who thought I’d really love it,” she said. “They insisted that I come. They knew I’d love it right off the bat and I did. The people who speak inspire us. I wouldn’t miss a meeting unless I had to.”
Nielubowicz, a lifelong writer and county resident since 1965, said she learned about the group from Green. “At the time, I had four children … and with four acres of land, I was busy with a lot of aspects of my life, but I found out that joining the group actually helped my career.” By listening to the experiences of other professionals, she said, “it opened doors I didn’t realize were available.
“We understand each other even if our forms of art are different. I can’t paint a picture, but I know what it’s like to sell one.”
Doris Lee McCoy, La Jolla resident and 30-year member, has authored six books. She was referred to the group by June Crosby, a former member and wife of Bob Crosby, brother of famed singer Bing Crosby.
“As a writer, if you have a story to tell, this is a good place to try it out,” McCoy said. “The group is really supportive. It’s a great opportunity for women who might be working on their own at home to get feedback from other artists. It’s a place where you can share things that are important to you.”
Looking to join?
The National League of American Women is open to professional women in the arts, including photographers, painters, sculptors, graphic artists, authors, editors, poets, screenwriters, composers, musicians and choreographers.
For more details, visit americanpenwomen.org. For more information about the La Jolla branch, call Sandi Nielubowicz at (619) 448-6144 or Anne Hoiberg at (619) 223-8074.
This first meeting of The League of American Pen Women was organized by Marian Longfellow O’Donoghue (yes, Henry’s niece), who wrote for newspapers in Washington D.C. and Boston. She invited fellow journalists Margaret Sullivan Burke and Anna Sanborn Hamilton to join her in establishing a “progressive press union” for the female writers of Washington.
“The Dauntless Three“ brought together 17 women: writers, novelists, newspaper women, a teacher, a poet and an artist. They hoped that these “active pen women” would find in the group, “mutual aid, advice, and future development” for each other and their careers.
— Quotes from The League Minutes, June 26, 1897.
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