ABOUT THE CLUTCH ARTISTS
America is a nation of “joiners.” In ever increasing numbers, people are flocking to join clubs. But, in the long run, this “belonging” fever is tempered by the fact that some organizations aren’t around forever. This is due, in part, to the flux that has produced America itself. It is noteworthy, then, to find a body like the Clutch Artists who are celebrating their 64th year in existence.
The Clutch Artists was founded in 1954. The first meetings were held in an attic and had 4 members present. Six months later, the membership had grown to 16 and dues were 50 cents a week.
In 1958, the Clutch Artists put on their first annual Autorama. It had been the goal from the start and the time was at hand. It was held at Memorial Auditorium and it grossed $4000.00. Of course, it cost $4000.00 to put on.
In 1960, the Clutch Artists joined forces with Bob Larivee, the owner of Promotions, Inc. Bob had put together an international string of custom car shows, and, an association of judges and statisticians to run an annual competition of show cars toward a Grand Finale with lots of prizes.
In 1961, the Clutch Artists outgrew the garage of one of the member’s family and rented a garage on Rhode Island Street. Here, the group attended weekly meetings, took care of Autorama business, and, built race cars, custom cars, street rods, and, show cars.
For 1962, the Autorama had outgrown the Aud and the show was moved to the Masten Avenue Armory. This was a huge building, with excellent accessibility and no columns to block your view. With plenty of parking, the Autorama continued to grow.
In the fall of 1975, a burned-out building was purchased on William Street. With a great deal of cooperation, a lot of hard work and the talents of the member, the clubhouse was created and opened in 1976. Four years later, a mortgage burning party was held with all members present. In 1979, The Buffalo Convention Center was opened, and the Autorama was the first big show to take place in it. Although not as big as the Armory, The Convention Center had the freshness of a new facility and was conveniently located in the heart of Buffalo with Highway access from everywhere.
In 2002, the Clutch Artists started a one day summer show at the Pier. It was at the lakefront, which was a great venue, but subsequently has been moved to the Main and Transit Fire Hall on Father’s Day weekend due to the Reclamation Projects of the Buffalo Waterfront. The Clutch Artists use a portion of their Show Profits for philanthropic and public service projects. Over the years, the group has worked with many charitable organizations.
We are currently involved with the Variety Club and also the NYS Adopt-A-Highway program which requires the club to maintain the cleanliness of Harlem Road from Ogden St. to Walden Ave.
For over 50 years, the Clutch Artists have been a positive influence on motor sports. Due to our efforts the community at large has recognized the Clutch Artists with various awards.
The Clutch Artists would like to thank all the organizations, participants and sponsors that have been involved with us over the years and look forward to continued cooperation with everyone in the future.