Arts and Culture

A staple of western Kentucky arts is moving ahead eight months after deadly tornadoes ripped through the area.

The storm destroyed the Ice House Gallery, home to the Mayfield-Graves County Art Guild since 1995.

The building has since been razed, and the guild has been operating out of a Regions Bank in Mayfield while leadership looks for a new facility. 

At the bank, the guild has set up a gift shop, office space and an area for artists to come and create every Thursday. 

Guild director Nanc Gunn said they’ve been running arts programming out of local schools and organizations. It’s all scaled to half capacity, but remains a priority.

“This is the best job I’ve ever had because it’s all about connecting with other people through the arts,” Gunn said. 

Since the tornadoes, Gunn has been returning recovered works to their creators. Some pieces came out surprisingly unscathed.

“Other art was just totally mangled, just punctured, you could hardly recognize it,” Gunn said. “And it was interesting to me that the artists were equally happy to get that back as well. So art is very personal.” 

Mayfield-Graves County Art Guild member Mary Helen Boyd works on a painting in the guild's temporary home, a Regions Bank, on Aug. 19, 2022.Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

Mayfield-Graves County Art Guild member Mary Helen Boyd works on a painting in the guild’s temporary home, a Regions Bank, on Aug. 19, 2022.

Gunn said it will likely take hundreds of thousands of dollars to rebuild. 

“Our first thought was that we could just find a place, renovate it and move in, but so much of Mayfield is just gone,” she said.

And the guild is essentially starting from scratch financially, so Gunn set up a GoFundMe to raise money.

“When the tornado took [the building out] out, we didn’t have a home anymore because we never actually owned the Ice House. We were just allowed to stay there,” Gunn said. “And so because of that there is no insurance money for us.”

The Ice House was a community gathering spot in downtown Mayfield, where the guild held classes, exhibitions, events and summer camps.

Following the tornadoes, people commented on the Ice House’s Facebook Page, saying what the place had meant to them. Many said they had great memories there. One person called it, “the soul of Mayfield.”  

Guild member Steve Polivick perfects some clouds in his painting-in-progress on Aug. 19, 2022.Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

Guild member Steve Polivick perfects some clouds in his painting-in-progress on Aug. 19, 2022.

“So many of us have a special place in our hearts for The Ice House,” gallerist Ruth Baggett posted. “As creative people, we will band together and see a new dawn for something we cherish so much!”

Paducah Mayor George Bray said his city has “been honored to have your art in our City Hall.” 

“If there is more that we can do to support your efforts in any way please let us know,” he wrote. “Keep the faith!

Gunn said they’d like to find something bigger than the Ice House to accommodate more gallery space and classrooms, which would “be quite a metamorphosis if we could come back bigger and stronger than we have been in the past.” 

In the meantime, the guild is getting ready for the annual Gourd Patch Arts Festival, which will be Sept. 17 in Mayfield.

Stephanie Wolf is WFPL's Arts & Culture Reporter.