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Painter celebrates 30 years of spreading fine art

Although Mary Jo Palmer did not get in on the ground level of the 30-year history of the Ironton Artists Association, she was about as close as one could get.

"I'm a charter member," Palmer said. "I was with them by the second meeting of the organization."

A long-time painter who most commonly works in oils, it's natural that Palmer would be a member of the association, which works to promote culture and fine art in the area.

Palmer said that in her three decades with the club, she has held almost every office. These days, she creates the club newsletter.

In addition to monthly meetings where members discuss painting styles and works of art, they also host regular exhibitions where local artists can have their work seen and see what other artists are up to.

"It's an outlet for local artists to exhibit their work," Palmer said. "It's a teaching thing as well as an opportunity to display work - and sometimes sell paintings."

On Sept. 17, the group will hold its 31st such exhibition at Ohio University Southern's campus, beginning at 9 a.m.

This latest offering looks to be an exercise in variety. Every skill level, from beginner to professional, and every media from crayons to photographs will be on display. In fact, the only thing visitors won't find are hand-made crafts.

Association founder and current treasurer Pati Payne said that this year's exhibition should be a stroll down memory lane.

"We paint a lot of local scenes," Payne said. "We have a special category this year called 'My Childhood Memories,' so there should be a lot of paintings that bring back memories for people."

In addition to selling some of their work, artists will also have the opportunity to have their works reviewed with judging at the show beginning at noon.

With a schedule that she describes as part-time work and part-time loafing, Palmer hasn't had much time lately to craft new pieces to sell at the show. But even though she may occasionally be too busy to paint, she said her passion for art will keep her involved with the group.

"It's a love of art, you have to have a love of art," Palmer said.