DMA Insight

Mrs. George K. Meyer (Sallie Griffis Meyer)

Mrs. George K. Meyer (Sallie Griffis) was a founding member and officer of the Dallas Art Association. Beginning in 1909 and continuing through 1926, she was President of the Art Association for much longer than any other leader would be. More remarkable, for many of these years she also served as surrogate Director of the museum, assembling exhibitions, promoting funds, staging events to attract the public, conducting meetings of the Trustees. In these roles she contributed energy, devotion and distinction, and as all the minutes stated: "in all these affairs she outgeneraled herself in efficiency, in capability, and in great executive ability, while always presiding in a stately and gracious manner."

Mrs. Meyer led the negotiations in the move to the Fair Park Art Gallery and in securing the contract and support from the city. For some twenty years she was instrumental in gathering the annual exhibits for the State Fair of Texas and in making purchases from these shows for the permanent collection of the Art Association, often prompting funds from Dallas businessmen for these purchases. She started the idea of having annual exhibitions for Dallas artists with awards in many classifications.

Starting in 1915, the Dallas Art Association began holding annual exhibitions in downtown locations. Mrs. Meyer traveled to East coast museums and collectors to negotiate art loans and drum up support. These exhibitions were launched with "socials" where, it was written, members of the Dallas Art Association "dispensed a cup which cheered but did not inebriate." There were also dinners which were "veritable feasts of reason and flow of soul!" In addition to the social affairs, special lectures were presented by authorities from near and far away. Illustrated catalogues were available with supplementary price lists for paintings which were for sale. The introduction by Mrs. Meyer to one of these catalogues was titled "Nothing so stimulates an appreciation of art as the ownership of paintings," and continued: "Dallas is becoming recognized as the foremost art center of the Southwest. Every picture which is added to the collections of the people of Dallas strengthens our hold on that enviable position. Our American artists and dealers have generously lent their pictures, and if we show appreciation not only by our thanks but by our purchases they will be encouraged to send again."

In 1926, after seventeen years of continuous service as President of the Dallas Art Association, Mrs. George K. Meyer indicated her health would no longer permit her to hold that office and carry out the mounting obligations ahead. Mrs. Meyer was named President Emeritus, with profuse thanks for her great contributions to the Association since its founding in 1903 and for her activities in relation to the important annual exhibitions held at the State Fair of Texas.

Adapted from

Jerry Bywaters, Seventy-Five Years of Art in Dallas: The History of the Dallas Art Association and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, (Dallas, TX: Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, 1978), 6-8, 14.