Crowds flock to Oxford for Double Decker Festival

BY JENNIFER FARISH

Daily Journal Oxford Bureau

OXFORD -The restoration of an old church was the indirect beginning of a growing business for one Brandon artist.

Vickie Gilbert displayed her unusual creation – paintings on the glass of wooden frame windows – at the Double Decker festival here Saturday.

She was one of more than 100 artists, potters and jewelry makers from across the Southeast who traveled to Oxford for the fifth annual event.

The festival is a major show for Gilbert who said she sold 40 pieces last year and received orders for additional work.

Gilbert, who has always enjoyed painting, got her start using windows as a medium when one of her friends managed to acquire 20 old wooden frame windows from a local church.

Gilbert estimates she has painted more than 1,000 windows since that beginning two years ago.

“I feel like I am recycling,” she said. “It is a way to save these windows that aren't made anymore, and I have done a lot of paintings on windows people wanted to save like windows from their parents' homeplace.”

Her hobby is quite a break from her full-time job as a secretary for a prison in Brandon.

“That's another reason I do it. It's a break,” she said, with a laugh.

Linda Sarden, mother of water color artist Brooke Sarden, said she and her husband have been setting up a tent at Double Decker since it started five years ago.

They began setting up and selling Brooke's work when she moved to Boston, Sarden said, adding Brooke has since returned to Memphis.

The festival is the only one outside of their hometown of Memphis that they travel to, Sarden said.

Sarden's paintings feature a variety of urban figures and settings and are vividly colorful. Bright blues, reds and yellows make the paintings feel as if they are moving.

Angels, groups of women and little girls are among Sarden's characters and some of the paintings feature poems also written by Sarden.

“I knew from the age of three she would be an artist. Her work is just so her. It is a lot of color and a lot of whimsy, a lot of color and a lot of whimsy,” her mother said, emphasizing the final words.

In addition to the impressive gathering of artists, Double Decker festival featured musical entertainers including traditional singer Gillian Welch, the blues-based Bobby Rush and alternative country performer Robert Earl Keen.

Kids were not left out. Face painting, kids' games, storytellers, magic shows, dancers and other activities completed the family atmosphere.