OA Gallery


Adler Bowman, features writer

The OA Gallery is cozily tucked away in the corner of downtown Kirkwood’s basement. You can find it on West Argonne Drive, directly across the street from the Kirkwood Train Station and next door to Mattress Direct. Upon entering, visitors must creep down a flight of stairs to be transported into this other world of art, a place for anyone to stop by and view a variety of paintings, sculptures and even handmade jewelry for free.
For six years, the OA Gallery has been a piece of downtown Kirkwood that presents the work of regional artists to the community. Many of the featured artists are from areas surrounding Missouri, but since its arrival, the gallery has added pieces from known artists in Canada and Scotland and plans to expand further. Anyone can come and view ten rooms full of artwork Wednesday through Friday from 12-5 p.m. Lisa Ober, one of the owners and working artist, said their mission is to preserve representational art, which is a type of art that displays a realistic, non-abstract view of the world.
“[Representational art] enhances and preserves our culture, and what these people are doing is
documenting the world as they see it,” Ober said. “I think that’s really important.”
The OA Gallery relocated from Clayton to Kirkwood in 2011 in search of a larger and unique space for the art to breathe. Since then, the gallery has been selling pieces to passersby as well as hosting art shows. Ober describes the gallery as casual and open to the community, whether they choose to purchase the work or simply browse. Lilly Palmer, junior, was shocked to stumble upon such a large gallery while exploring downtown Kirkwood with her friends.
“I first came [to OA] two years ago,” Palmer said. “When you go down the stairs it’s so amazing. It was a very eye-opening experience because in a town like Kirkwood you see your usual boutiques and restaurants, but this was so cool and different.”
Rebecca Shaffer has been working at the OA Gallery for a month and a half, and said that she feels at home in the gallery atmosphere. According to Shaffer, only seven to eight visitors enter the gallery on a typical weekday. Shaffer is working with the rest of the staff to become more visible to the Kirkwood community.
“[The gallery staff] is trying to bring in more artists and open the upstairs of the gallery so more
people can see it from the street level and we can get into the community a little bit more,” Shaffer said.
On the OA Gallery website, artists can submit their work for a chance to have their work featured in the gallery. An aspiring painter or sculptor can attach pictures of their work and include a brief preview of themselves, and their relationship with the gallery will proceed from there. Ober said a talented artist of any age can pursue a relationship with the OA Gallery or participate in a gallery show. In the past, they have held shows to promote young people who are going through the process of trying to become a known artist.
“From crayons to colored pencils to oil paints, there’s a building process to creating art that would hang in a gallery,” Rebecca said. “Kids sometimes don’t realize that they’re able to do that at some point, they just have to find the right schools and resources.”
The OA Gallery will hold their third annual “Many Mini” reception where small, affordable pieces can be purchased for holiday gift-giving Friday, Nov. 3. Hundreds of pieces are featured, ranging from $50 to $1,000. Ober describes the show as a lively event filled to the brim with local art enthusiasts and dozens of artists with varying ages and levels of experience.
“I love the people that surround this gallery,” Ober said. “I love the artists we represent and the people I meet in Kirkwood that may just be strolling by and accidentally discover us. I love meeting people who a appreciate what we put on our walls.”