The Portrait Society of Atlanta was originally formed in 1979 as The Portrait Club of Atlanta. Inspired by John Howard Sanden’s New York organization at the time, Anna M. Norris, an Atlanta artist and wife of prominent architect Henry D. Norris, organized the club with David A. Peoples agreeing to be her first member.
The group included renowned Atlanta artists, Ben E. Shute, Bruce W. Hafley, Roman and Constantin Chatov. Harriette Gortatowsky, other artist friends and several fellow students of Ben E. Shute were some of the earliest members.
The most important concept in forming the organization was to set up a non-competitive atmosphere which would provide members with mutual benefits and generously shared expertise. By sharing technical advice and professional tips, portrait artists could improve the quality of portraiture being offered in Atlanta— creating a consistently higher level of work available to the public. By holding exhibitions for the public to enjoy, knowledge of protaiture as a valid art form would be shared while individual artists gained useful exposure. Outside Jurors were utilized to assure a certain level of quality was displayed.
For the first three years, meetings were held in the home of Anna and Henry Norris, then were moved to the Ida Williams Library, Buckhead; a Buckhead bank; the Sandy Springs Library and then to North Dekalb Cultural Art Center (a former school designed by architect, Henry Norris). In recent years, meetings have been held in various locations around Atlanta.