The Citrus County Art League was founded in 1964, with 8 members. Mrs. Ralph Beddow as its first president. The original by-laws were drafted by Mr. Joseph Bowler, who was also the art appreciation chairman. Meetings were held in the Citrus County High School library. Originally founded by a small group of artists and educators, this small but dedicated gathering quickly grew, holding yearly exhibits to promote art in our county. By 1970 the League had grown the point where an exhibit at the Plantation Inn was able to show 102 works by local and other Florida artists.
By 1974, at the 10 anniversary celebration held at the Inverness Golf and Country club, the League had grown to over 100 members. In the ensuing years the Art Center sponsored a winter arts festival every year in downtown Inverness, drawing artists from all over Florida. By 1984 the League had established a cultural center on Hwy 486 about 3 miles from Hernando.
Around 1999 the Camera Club was formed as a special interest group within the Art League and began meeting independently at the Cultural Center. The original group was lead by Merle Hoar and George Dowling and focused its monthly meetings on exhibits, visiting photographers, and technical experts in the field. By the year 2000 the club had dwindled to just a few members. In one of our last meetings I recall Matt Beck, Citrus County native photography editor for the Citrus County Chronicle demonstrating the first Digital camera that the Chronicle had acquired. He returned to the club in early 2019 to demonstrate some of his award winning work. The club has hosted many notable guest photographers over the years. Matt Kowalski noted Photoshop author, Dr. Dan Montgomery, published fine art photographer and many others.
In it’s next incarnation, the Camera Club was reborn as the Digital Camera Club. It’s first chairman was Ed Katterson. The club grew and prospered under the able leadership of Ed Katterson, Dale Massey, and Jim Houle into the vibrant organization it is today, boasting over 150 members and sponsoring a rich, yearly menu of workshops, photography classes, software classes, photography competitions, field trips and special interest groups extending across the spectrum of modern photography and imaging.
* Special thanks to Kathy Turner of the Citrus Historical Society for help with this article.