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Torpedo Factory Art Center records, 1974-1996

Torpedo Factory Art Center records, 1974-1996

Torpedo Factory Art Center

Collection Information

Size: 4.7 linear ft.

Summary: Organizational records, correspondence, a file for the Friends of the Torpedo Factory Art Center (TFAC), business and financial records, lists and directories, reports, event files, printed material, and photographs document the history, operations, and activities of one of the largest and longest-running artist collaboratives in the United States.

Organizational records, 1974-1995, consist of brief histories, copies of the constitution and by-laws, minutes of meetings, ballots from elections, and responses to surveys. Correspondence, 1974-1995, consists of both external and internal communications discussing the Art Center's business, including legal and financial matters, and the planning of exhibitions, events, and classes. An organization file for the Friends of the Torpedo Factory Art Center, 1980-1992, contains copies of by-laws, correspondence primarily concerning fund-raising and outreach teaching programs, and newsletters.

Business and financial records, 1974-1995, consist of leasing policies, tax records, insurance records, general budget information, payroll ledgers, rent records, dues assessments, information desk accounts, publicity receipts, and miscellaneous receipts. The general budget information subseries includes miscellaneous check registers, income and expense ledgers, cost projections, and a report of net cost analysis.

Lists and directories, 1975-1996, include listings of artists' names, artist directories, and miscellaneous notes. Reports, 1986-1994, document the operations and management strategy of the Art Center and the cultural plans of the City of Alexandria. Event files, 1979-1995, contain correspondence, receipts, notes, and printed material concerning the planning of special events, including the annual Mardi Gras Costume Ball, and the "Art in the Vineyards" competition.

Printed material, 1975-1995, is comprised of clippings, newsletters, exhibition announcements, brochures, and schedules of classes. Photographs, 1983-1989, are of the Torpedo Factory Art Center building, miscellaneous events, artists, and art work.

Biographical/Historical Note

Art center; Alexandria, Va. Opened September 1974 in an old factory which manufactured torpedoes at the close of WWI and during WWII. The initial proposal in 1973 for the center was from Marian Van Landingham, a delegate for the State of Virginia, and Projects and Programs Director of the Alexandria Bicentennial Commission. It continues as one of the most successful, largest, and longest running artist collaboratives in the United States. In 1998, it boasts of more than eight hundred thousand visitors annually, with eighty-three studios, five cooperative galleries, an art school, and an archaeology laboratory and museum. The artists form the Torpedo Factory Artists Association. The Center is also supported by the Friends of the Torpedo Factory.

Provenance

Donated 1998 by Penelope C. Barringer for the Torpedo Factory Artists' Association.

A Finding Aid to the Torpedo Factory Art Center Records,
1974-1996
, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.torpfaca
Biographical/Historical note
Construction of the original U.S. Naval Torpedo Station on the Potomac River, in Alexandria, Virginia, began on November 12, 1918. This station was responsible for the manufacture and maintenance of torpedoes for the next five years, when work stopped and the building served as a munitions storage facility until World War II. At this time, round-the-clock production of both submarine-borne and airborne torpedoes resumed, and ten buildings were added to the complex to accommodate the increased activity.
Torpedo production halted in 1945, and eventually the buildings were used for storage by various federal agencies, including Congress and the Smithsonian Institution. In 1969, the City of Alexandria bought the complex of buildings, but an acceptable plan for their use was not found for several years.
Marian Van Landingham, a delegate for the State of Virginia, President of the Alexandria-based Art League, and Projects and Programs Director of the Alexandria Bicentennial Commission, proposed a project to renovate two of the buildings into working studio spaces for artists. Her proposal was endorsed by the Commission in December 1973, and renovations began in May 1974. Artists worked to remove 40 truckloads of debris from the buildings and, after City crews constructed partial studio walls, they painted the interior. The Torpedo Factory Art Center opened to the public in September, 1974. The new complex of artists' studios was filled from a list of juried artists, and Marian Van Landingham became the first Director of the Art Center.
By 1983, the building needed major repairs and improvements. As part of a federal program sale/lease-back agreement, the building was sold to Alexandria Art Center Associates (AACA), leased back from AACA by the City, and subleased to the Torpedo Factory Artists' Association. As part of the sale agreement, the City had a one time repurchase option to be exercised in 1998. On September 1, 1998 the Artists' Association took over all management of the building, and the City now acts as landlord.
In 1998, the Torpedo Factory Art Center boasted of more than eight hundred thousand visitors annually, with eighty-three studios, five cooperative galleries, an art school, and an archaeology laboratory and museum. The artists form the Torpedo Factory Artists Association. The center is also supported by the Friends of the Torpedo Factory.
Arrangement note
The Torpedo Factory Art Center records are arranged as nine series, based on type of document. Each series has been arranged chronologically.
Series 1: Organizational Records, 1974-1995 (box 1, 0.9 linear ft.)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1974-1995 (boxes 1-2, 1.4 linear feet)
Series 3: Organization File for Friends of the Torpedo Factory Art Center, 1980-1992 (box 3, 8 folders)
Series 4: Business and Financial Records, 1974-1995 (boxes 3-4, 1.3 linear ft.)
Series 5: Lists and Directories, 1975-1996 (box 4, 8 folders)
Series 6: Reports, 1986-1994 (box 4, 5 folders)
Series 7: Event Files, 1979-1995 (box 4, 0.3 linear feet)
Series 8: Printed Material, 1975-1995 (box 5, 24 folders)
Series 9: Photographs, 1983-1989 (box 5, 10 folders)
Provenance
Donated 1998 by Penelope C. Barringer for the Torpedo Factory Artists' Association.
Processing Information note
This collection was processed by Jean Fitzgerald in 2001.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Torpedo Factory Art Center records, 1974-1996. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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