Last year put a lot of actives on hold for businesses and clubs alike and the Art Guild was no different.

Already making an impact on the community with their projects to inspire people to love art, the guild is already making plans for this year.

“We had our first meeting since early last year this past May,” said Dr. Lee Waltress, president of the guild. “And we are looking forward to the things we can do the remainder of this year.”

The governing board of the Art Guild includes, Bob and Robbie Boyd, June Caldwell, Dr. Miriam Clark, Desha Cruse, Claire McGee and Dr. Gerald Durbin.

Dr. Waltress said that last year was almost surreal like for so many others. “We didn’t meet, we didn’t have the gala in April and we didn’t get to participate in the Bodock Festival.”

“First we are looking forward to a more active role in the Bodock Festival this year. We will not only have the picture frame fun like last time, we are also going to be painting rocks with flags on them which will eventually be a permanent display near the Tanglefoot® Trail,” Dr. Waltress said.

She also said that the members that have been in the guild since 2019 will have a booth at the festival to sell their products. “We are very excited about this and feel it is a way to highlight their work in the community.” So make sure you drop by the Renasant Bank Court yard during the festival on Saturday, September 11 to visit.

And speaking of Bodock projects, many of you who have been to the courtyard in years past remember making marks on gingerbread men and round pieces of clay.

“We have since fired and glazed and re-fired these pieces,” Dr. Watress said. “And I’m happy to say that we have at last found a place with the city’s blessing to display them. They will be attached to the wheelchair ramp beside Renasant Bank. We are looking forward to getting this completed for the public to view their art work.”

To help bring this mosaic together, Dr. Waltress said she is in need of the old style metal bottle caps that are crinkled around the edges like are on coke bottles. “We need these for fill in between the art work that will be displayed.”

If you work a vending machine and have any of these, please drop them by her studio at the Mulberry Tree Yarn Shop on South Main Street two buildings south of the hospital. You may also drop them by the Progress office and we will see that she gets them.

The guild is also looking forward to a successful art gala in April 2022. “We also are working toward having an artist to come and do pointing like we had a couple of years ago. That was very well received and we’d like to do it again.”

She is most pleased with the role the guild pays in Pontotoc. “This is part of the community spirit, you don’t have to be a painter or potter or sculpture to be in the art guild, just be interested in art and enjoy it. Please come and join us because we want more people involved. The guild meets the second Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m. at the Mulberry Tree Yarn Shop on South Main Street.”

Corner Grocery art restoration

One major project some of the art guild members will be working on is the most visible piece of art in the town, the fading Corner Grocery sign that includes a Barber’s Milk advertisement and a CocaCola® advertisement as well as the Corner Grocery lettering at the top.

The parts of the original signs that will be restored is the Corner Gro, Barbers Milk, Coca Cola, Delicious and Refreshing and Furr Drug Co. In addition, there will be a bodock tree painted on the well and the top of the Furr Drug Co and the bottom of the milk sign will have muscadine vines with the dark bronzy blue fruit painted on them and to the west of the glass door a group of cattails will be painted.

Dr. Waltress said she is excited to be able to restore this. “We are preserving something from the past. It is a building I’ve seen most of my life. It is in a location that is seen by a lot of people so we need to persevere it. I see people taking pictures beside it now and if we don’t preserve it the future generations won’t see it.”

One of the chief reasons also to have the sign preserved is “we want our town to look nice. Originally these signs weren’t made to last, be we are going to make it last when we re-paint it. I want to make the painting look so real that you think a real muscadine is growing there.”

She said the reason for the muscadines and the cattails goes back to the old history of Pontotoc when we were known as the land of the hanging grapes or the place where the cattails grew.

“And the grapes weren’t the table grapes like we imagine, but muscadines.”

And if you are wondering about the tree in the background she said it was to lend an artistic touch to the wall.

“We didn’t want it to be all advertising and the bodock tree adds that little touch that we needed to fill in that space,” she said.

The project will include a grant phase because it will take scaffolding to get the top part of the building painted. “Kit Stafford, who did the First Choice Tanglefoot® sign is going to do that part for us,” she enthused. “We will project the image on the wall for her and she will do the painting.”

Dr. Waltress said she hopes to complete this project in the next nine months.

“Of course this is weather permitting and a lot of the work will be done after five in the afternoon.”

She is excited about seeing the project completed because it will be so visible. “It will show up quite well at night.”

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