Since its beginning in April 1967, the Oak Leaf Artist Guild (originally know as the Tri-County Independent Artists) has sought to “promote art in the area and sponsor exhibits and art sales.” Starting with 30 members from St. Charles, Warren and Lincoln counties. Its first president was Jack Elmore, an art teacher at Fort Zumwalt Jr. High School (where the first meetings were held).
Prospective guild members had to show their artwork at a meeting and be voted in before being allowed to join the group. Once a member, they exhibited their works at libraries, banks, shopping centers, city halls, local businesses such as restaurants and movie theaters, a country club, and a nursing home. They also took part in local parades by creating floats. Their float titled “Art Under Three Flags” created for the St. Charles Bi-Centennial Parade in 1969 won first place! Meetings usually included an artistic presentation or demonstration, plus critiques on members’ works.
In 1970 the group changed its name to the O’Fallon Artists Guild and also opened a gallery, the O’Fallon Art Gallery, on Main St. in O’Fallon, Missouri, behind the Ginnie Lee Fabric Shop. Sadly, when the fabric shop moved in 1971 the art gallery lost its home. In 1978 the group changed its name again to the Oak Leaf Artists Guild. Its members continued to promote art in the area which still remains a group goal today.
See the photo gallery for a few historical highlights: Curtis Flood, a Cardinals baseball player, judging a guild art show in 1968; Woody White, guild member, working on one of twelve murals commissioned for the Mark Twain Mall in 1980; and Barbara Harris, founding guild member, posing with one of her many winning paintings at an art show.
–Written by Annette McGarrahan