The East County Art Association was initially established as an arts and crafts organization. The first meeting of what was then called the El Cajon Art Association was held in 1979. From 1979 to 1984 The East County Art Association showed at local community shopping centers. These open air shows were highly successful for crafts, but proved to be a problem for the showing of fine art paintings. In 1984, then President, Dorothy Cohen, convinced the owner of a local shopping center on East Main Street in El Cajon to allow the Association the use of a small store for a Fine Art Gallery and meeting place until the space was rented.In the tradition of many art organizations, the ECAA members enthusiastically transformed the former shoe store into a suitable place to display their art works and to hold monthly meetings.
The ECAA used this first store-front gallery for six months. During this time, the first Annual Juried Awards Exhibition was held in February 1984.ECAA’s second gallery was located in the Rancho San Diego Shopping Center. The 3000 square foot gallery was home to the Association for more than five years. After this period the ECAA gallery relocated several times. As of December 2006, there is no active gallery.
Presently the ECAA offers members juried shows, non-juried shows, art education programs, workshops and critique sessions. The ECAA has branched out to provide members additional opportunities to exhibit their work in the East County Courthouse and the El Cajon City Hall.
The Association’s “Masters of the Moment” Annual Juried Show has become one of San Diego County’s premier juried art exhibitions.In 2002, in order to better reflect the breadth of their membership base, the El Cajon Art Association formally changed its name to the East County Art Association.