OASIS Fine Art & Craft Gallery
Who We Are
OASIS Fine Art & Craft Gallery is a totally volunteer-run cooperative that has served
the community seven days a week for nine years at its location in downtown Harrisonburg.
They offer rich art, music and spoken word experiences at little or no cost through exhibits
and openings, classes, concerts and informal music sessions, children's projects, poetry
readings and other programs. Juried artists, artisans and musicians, have the opportunity
to exhibit and have their work for sale to the public. College students are welcomed to take
part in OASIS internship program, and may apply for student membership.
Judith Ligon, president of the art cooperative in 2010, says "OASIS continues to
be a source of inspiration, empowerment and healing through the arts in our community. OASIS
has expanded its classes and educational offerings and special programs in the visual arts,
music, poetry as well as community outreach. We are recognized as partners in downtown events
from the Museum and Gallery Walk when we host The Big Draw, to First Night, and are regular
participants in First Fridays."
A Heartfelt Thank You
OASIS and its parent organization, Shenandoah Council of the Arts, are extremely grateful
to our many wonderful partners, supporters and customers. It is a privilege to have your
friendships and to share in our community life. Thank you for being an integral part of what
artist member Deb Booth calls "the great big ball of wonder that is OASIS"!
OASIS opened its doors in October 2000 as Harrisonburg's first artists' cooperative.
The name OASIS stands for "our art space in the Shenandoah Valley". The founders were
leaders from Rockingham Fine Arts, in particular its progenitor, Dr. Crystal Theodore,
then head of the art department at James Madison University. She strived tirelessly to
bring OASIS into being. Others like Paul Miller Kline, then art department head at
Bridgewater College, and Phil James, art professor at James Madison University, were
among the founding board members who devoted great energy toward establishing the
In 2000, after years, if not decades, of dreaming and searching, RFA leaders had learned that
the Sycamore Gallery was closing, making the Hostetter Building storefront available for lease.
Sycamore Gallery owners were willing to donate their display equipment to RFA's project, a
gesture of generosity that was key to moving forward. RFA leaders invited local artists
and artisans to view the space, give feedback about the opportunity, and begin committing
to the formation of a co-op.
RFA obtained not-for-profit status, then changed its legal name to the Shenandoah Council
of the Arts, to better reflect its goals for the arts in the Shenandoah Valley. With help
of good friends like Dr. Ronald Carrier and then-mayor Larry Rogers, SCA sought support from
Harrisonburg's City Council to help realize its dream of a place to exhibit local fine art
and craft and to offer art programs to the community. The city's grant made it possible for
SCA to get OASIS on its feet.
Shenandoah Council of the Arts
Today the parent organization of OASIS, Shenandoah Council of the Arts, has board
members from many community organizations--among them are Harrisonburg City Schools, James
Madison University's School of Art & Art History, Central Shenandoah Arts, Shenandoah Valley
Watercolor Society, and Virginia Penwomen. Current SCA president Barbara Gautcher is an art
teacher at Eastern Mennonite High School and past president of OASIS' cooperative.