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Saving the Art

For the past 26 years, the Mayfield/Graves County Art Guild has painted, sculpted, drawn, and exhibited their way into the very cultural fabric of the area. With classes for children and shows for local adult artists, the organization and their gallery, the Ice House Gallery, became a cultural hub for art and artists to show their work and for the public to appreciate art that spanned the spectrum. 

But, like many things in the Mayfield and Graves County area on December 10, 2021, the gallery came to a literal crashing halt. In the middle of celebrating their two-decade long Impressions Art Show, the Ice House Gallery took a direct hit by the massive Quad-State Tornado. 

Guild Art Director Nanc Gunn remembers the morning of December 11. Like so many others in the area, it’s likely a feeling that she will never forget. 

“As soon as we had daylight, I went down to the Ice House,” she says. “My husband and I were able to get in and start saving art.” 

“Since we were right in the middle of our Impressions Art Show, we had over 100 artists that had artwork damaged in the building.”   

“Our goal was to get in there and salvage as much art as possible and reunite it with the individual artists, in whatever state it was in.” 

Nanc pulled out art that was covered in mud, ripped, torn, and hard to identify. But she worked diligently and carefully to salvage as much as she could.  

It was the same in many places in Western Kentucky on that morning – communities pulling out of the torn, the muddy, and the destroyed, what they could salvage. 

The Mayfield/Graves Art Guild, suffering a complete loss of their facility, their offices and their exhibition space, could have stopped their efforts to bring art to the community.  

But, just like she did on the morning of December 11, Nanc went about saving the art. The Guild set up temporary shop with the help of the local Regions Bank, who provided both conference space and lobby space, where Nanc continued to provide programming to children through local schools and hold art exhibits. 

“It’s been a long, hard road coming back from the tornado and the devastation, both to the building and to the art itself,” Nanc says. 

When it came time to make a decision about hosting one of the group’s signature fundraising events, they had no hesitation. 
The Gourd Patch Arts Festival would go on, just as it has for the past 20 years.  

This year, the goal is even bigger – the Festival will be key to the Guild having a new space to call its own in the near future.  

“We felt the importance of keeping the tradition going,” says Gloria Galloway, Chairman of the Mayfield/Graves County Art Guild Board. “We really feel the need to create a new location for the Art Guild, so we are trying to raise funds to get a new location. And, we are still very interested in the arts and the importance of arts to our community and we want to continue support of that.” 

But, for Nanc and Gloria, the Festival is also a way for the community to come together and continue to heal from the damage done by the tornado. 

“Everyone continues to be working diligently to get our community pulled back together. We are a big part of that,” Gloria says. “The Gourd Festival provides a fun activity for the community, as well as promotion of the arts.” 

So, on September 17, the Gourd Patch Arts Festival will once again bring art and fun together for the community. Starting at 9:00 a.m., festival goers can enjoy art by local and nationally-recognized gourd artists, gourds, pumpkins and mums from local growers, music, craft vendors, face painting, and a gourd derby car race. For Nanc, the festival is a way to expose the public to the passion that the Art Guild has. 

“We are all about the art, so this festival features a lot of art for people to enjoy and do together,” she says. 

Gloria knows that, in this year especially, the Gourd Patch Arts Festival has a lot of hope for the future riding on its fun shoulders. 

“The more activities that we have as a community, where people have the opportunity to come together, it just lifts everyone’s spirits and they see that there is hope for the future.” 

Mark your calendars for the Gourd Patch Arts Festival, September 17, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at the Graves County Cooperative Extension Service office, 4200 US-45 in Mayfield, Kentucky. 
You can learn more by following the Ice House Gallery and the Gourd Patch Arts Festival on Facebook, or by visiting
If you’d like to know more about the Mayfield/Graves County Art Guild and join their year-round programming, you can visit, call 270-247-6971, or email

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