As told by Jack Mulhollen W.P.A. Past President

The origin of our unique club is quite a story in itself.  The WPA was started in the late ’50s and chartered in 1962 with the club electing a President and forming a Constitution and by-laws, with rules for membership requirements.  It started in Akron, Ohio, with a small group of professional artists belonging to the Akron Society of Artists, and one individual in particular, Joe Ferriot, artist and owner of a local Plastics Mfg. firm, who was instrumental in the formation of the Whiskey Painters of America.

Joe, who was traveling extensively for his firm and longing to paint on these trips, devised a small palette out of an aspirin box, divided with plastic strips to hold his paint and devised a screw-together brush [like a pool cue] that would fit inside this small box, along with strips of watercolor paper cut to about 4″ X 5″ so that all would fit neatly into his shirt pocket.

After business hours were completed, Joe would retire to the nearest “watering hole” for relaxation and friendly imbibing.  He would then remove his small painting kit, and to the delight of the bartenders and patrons, produce one of his miniature masterpieces by dipping his brush into his glass of booze, which then he would give away.  Needless to say, he was an instant celebrity, making many new friends and rarely having to buy a drink!  His mini paintings, which he dubbed “Whiskey Paintings”, became a sought-after commodity!

Back among his cohorts from the Akron Society of Artists, he encouraged each to do likewise when they got together for a lavation after their regular meetings.  After they finished their paintings they would put them all into a hat and then retrieve one.  Thus having a great time and going home with a fellow artist’s painting.  To encourage this Joe had his factory design and produce mini palettes which he then distributed to his friends.  Many of the artists still have those original palettes and use them today!

One foggy night in 1962, at the Tangier Night Club in Akron, Ohio, approximately 14 members met, formed a charter with by-laws, governing rules, elected a president [Joe Ferriot], trustees, and named it “The Whiskey Painters of America”.  Joe served as the President for about 10 years until his business requirements forced him to step down, turning the duties over to A.H. Don Settle, who served for the next eight years.  Settle then relinquished the duties to Louie Mong, who then served as President for the following eight years.  Citing health problems, he turned the job over to L.J. [Tony] Cross, who served as the fourth President for the next fourteen years. Tony decided to step down in Aug. 2003 and asked Jack Mulhollen to take over as the fifth President, who served until 2016 when Ron Beahn took over and is the current President.

The Purpose of the organization is:

  • To Promote the fine art of painting in miniature.
  • To promote the good fellowship among imbibing artists.
  • To prove to fellow bar habituates that loud music and free verse are not necessary adjuncts to good art.
  • To permit an artist to enjoy two of the three greatest pleasures in life while sitting on a barstool or a dimly lit cocktail table.
  • To add interest to an otherwise dull evening. To become a member of this exclusive organization, an applicant must have a bonafide member of the Whiskey Painters of America as a sponsor.
  • Unwritten rules require that an applicant paint a watercolor by candle-light after 10 PM, no larger than 4″ X 5″, dipping their brush in some form of alcohol.  This can often result in a Manhattan swamp scene, a Martini landscape, or a mixed-up fuzzy seascape!

As you can tell we are a fun group, but W.P.A members are cautioned to submit only qualified artists as applicants as this is very exclusive and only the organization of its kind in the world.