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New home for Oxford Artist Guild

The Oxford Artists Guild has been around for decades, but it wasn’t until two months ago that they got a space to call their own.

Nestled in the upstairs level of the Sugar Magnolia antique store (1919 University Ave.), the guild’s gallery features the work of numerous members, ranging from watercolor paintings to pottery. The guild’s current membership stands at over 90 individuals.

Janet Barnes, who has been part of the guild since 1988, says that it all began (at least in the ‘70s) when several ladies used to get together to do artwork.

“It kind of spread from there and people joined them,” Barnes said. “They started out with about four people. The members come from anywhere. We have people from Memphis, the southern part of the state, one from North Carolina, there’s really no boundaries.”

Barnes added that the purpose of the guild is, “to encourage interest in the arts and present original artwork.”

When the group officially became known as the OAG, Barnes says that it was Evelyn Crockett, who was instrumental in putting them on the map with their “Arts and All That Jazz” program back in the ‘80s.

“That was our first series of shows that were held on the Courthouse Square,” Barnes said. “We combined with certain jazz musicians in town and they played during the art show. We sold our artwork and they played their music. It was a great day for everybody.”

Current guild president Pam Locke found the space at Sugar Magnolia while she was exhibiting some of her work there last year. Locke says that the antique store eventually asked her if she wanted to use the upstairs space since it was hard for them to lug furniture up and down the steps.

“At that point, I asked them if the Guild could have the space and what they would charge us for the space,” Locke remembered. “They said they wouldn’t charge us for the space. They would take 25 percent of whatever we sell, just like a normal gallery. We came up with the design and how to hang everything.”

That was in January, and now it’s a fully-functioning and well-assembled gallery. Locke also credits Linda Peters and Cindy Aune with assembling the space and getting everything in order.

Susan Rose, the guild’s treasurer, is thrilled that the organization now has their own gallery.

“Normally, we just have shows in spring and fall and our member show at the Powerhouse and at the Library,” Rose said. “It’s nice to have a place where people can come and see the work of the different artists not on those weekends. We’re just really excited about this opportunity to let the people of Oxford, the surrounding areas and people who come to visit, see our work.”