The Old Curiosity Shop is a dream come true

The Old Curiosity Shop is a dream come true
Lori Feeney

Linda Clugston opened The Old Curiosity Shop in Wilkshire Hills.


Linda Clugston is a collector of quotes, a lover of the arts and, at age 66, the owner of her own art gallery — a dream she has held since her childhood in England.

"She believed she could, so she did" is one of Clugston's favorite quotes, and it sums up the story behind her opening of The Old Curiosity Shop in Wilkshire Hills.

To appreciate the endurance of Clugston’s dream, one must travel back to England in the 1960s when, at the age of 8, she lost her mother to cancer. The youngest of seven children, Clugston felt rudderless when her mother died. She found sanctuary in an art gallery owned by a wealthy couple. Although there was a sign on the door that said, “No Children Allowed,” they never turned Clugston away.

“That’s when I fell in love with the idea of being an artist,” Clugston said.

Fast forward to around 1970 when Clugston met Dave Clugston, an American serving in England in the Air Force. The two were married in 1973 and made their way to America to raise a family that had started with the birth of their son Scotty in England.

In the nearly five decades since, one wonders what delayed Clugston from realizing her art gallery dream. She chalks it up to the life of the average woman. “Women always put everyone else first,” she said.

Like many women, Clugston put husband, children and grandchildren first. She did have a career as a dental hygienist, but for the most part, she said, “I’ve always just done what others wanted from me, and I never really knew how to ‘do’ me.”

The Old Curiosity Shop is a place where Clugston is definitely “doing” her. Entering the place feels like entering a haven, where the bustle of the outside world ceases to exist.

Clugston exhibits her own art, along with the art of at least one other local artist at all times. She plans to change the exhibits every two months. The featured artist for January and February is Wanda Cunningham of Canton. In March and April the gallery will feature the works of Dover artist Nancy McDonald.

Art classes

Clugston also has planned a full schedule of classes. There was a paint and sip workshop in full swing the night of this interview, and about a dozen women were creating a wooden sign featuring a snowman made of crisscrossed string under Clugston’s tutelage. Other classes scheduled include beginner’s watercolors, a Mommy & Me class, ceramics, Knit Night and more.

The beginner’s watercolor class will take place from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Feb. 1. A $30 fee includes all materials and instruction. Space is limited, so those interested in taking the class should reserve a spot as soon as possible by calling 330-280-6724.

Grand opening

Clugston has a grand opening planned for Saturday, Feb. 8 from 2-5 p.m. A number of local artists will be there to meet guests and discuss their work. Refreshments will be served.

The “why”

When asked why she opened the art gallery, Clugston said it’s not for recognition or to sell her art. In fact she’ll be thrilled if she just breaks even. “I want to inspire women and children to feel good about themselves by creating art,” she said.

Clugston wants to conduct a four-to-five-week children’s class where the kids create artwork and then display it at an exhibit. She also feels women need a place to go where they can just get away for a couple of hours with their friends. She hopes women will drop by and find a haven here.

There’s one other reason why Clugston opened the gallery and why she creates art. “When I leave this earth,” she said, “I want to leave a part of me behind."

From the looks of things, she’ll be leaving behind many pieces.

The Old Curiosity Shop is located at 364 Edgebrook Road in Bolivar.

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