‘Missouri Art Now: A Bicentennial Celebration’ on view now through July 17 at the Spiva Center for the Arts

It’s All Things Considered on KRPS; I’m Fred Fletcher-Fierro. Later this summer, Missouri will celebrate its bi-centennial. The state was admitted to the United States on August 10, 1821, the 24th admitted into the Union. To both mark and celebrate this occasion, ‘Missouri Art Now: A Bicentennial Celebration’ is traveling to five locations, celebrating the diversity of Missouri and it’s artists. The display is on view now through Saturday July 17 at the Spiva Center of the Arts in Joplin. Recently, I spoke with Interim Executive Director of the Spiva, Susan Adams who says, ‘A Bicentennial Celebration’ sets itself apart from other exhibits in a unique way. (Piece aired on KRPS’s Friday, July 2, 2021 All Things Considered)

Steve Doerr’s ‘Copper Treasure’

“You know most of our exhibits tend to be a compilation of work by one particular person. But in celebration of the Missouri 200th anniversary this exhibit features artists from all over the state. It was the brainchild of Jill Sullivan, the Director of the Post Art Library, and her vision was to rather than look back at the past 200 years and show historical pieces. To kind of freeze this moment in time with what is happening in the Missouri art community right now.”

Susan Adams

The result is an exhibit with 60 pieces from 60 artists from across Missouri. From the large metros area of Kansas City, Springfield and St. Louis to the rural areas of Central, Southwest and Southeast Missouri. Susan from the Spiva explains how the state was divided up to ensure equality.

“So the state was divided up into four regions. And art centers in each of the four regions facilitated a call for artists, and then each region was allowed to pick 15 artists from, Northeast, Southeast, Northwest, Southwest. And so we have this amazing selection of sculpture, painting, textiles, ceramics, just a little bit of everything.

Susan Adams

Late last year when the Missouri Arts Council put a call out to artists to submit work for the traveling exhibition they had one requirement. The artist had to be a Missouri resident. Beyond that, the Council accepted both 2D and 3D art, and both are on display at the ‘Bi-Centennial Celebration’. When you visit the exhibit, you’ll notice names familiar to Southwest Missouri art lovers. In fact, members of the Spiva knew so many of the artists, members of Joplin’s art non-profit played no role in selecting any of the pieces, so there wouldn’t be an appearance of favoritism. Regardless, Susan is proud to see one of the Spiva’s own as one of the 60 pieces featured in the exhibit.

“But we were delighted to have Jade Henning Cantrell, who is an employee here. Sarah Serio, who is the Director of the Neosho Arts Council. Local people who tour the exhibit will see familiar names, Laurie Marble, Jim Jackson, Steve Doerr, Mary Datum.”

Susan Adams

Speaking of local artists, there is a piece by Joplin’s Steve Doerr on display at the Bi-Centential Celebration. It’s called ‘Copper Treasure’ and appears to be a piece of pottery, but upon a closer look, the pot is actually a piece of maple. The copper patina was created by oxidizing a metallic paint containing copper crystals. Susan tells us a little bit about Steve and his work.

“Steve has got a very interesting story. He was a teacher of Franklin Tech for many, many years and he is a wood turner. He and his wife Valerie are both award winning wood turners and the name of their businesses, The Wooden Doerr. And you can see his work on Facebook and his beautiful piece. It has a copper colored patina to it and when you look at it, it’s so graceful and you really don’t know whether it’s metal or wood.

Susan Adams

‘Interim Executive Direction of the Spiva Center for the Arts in Joplin, Susan Adams, speaking about Missouri Art Now: A Bicentennial Celebration’ on display now through Saturday July 17. The Spiva is open Tuesday through Saturday from 12 pm until 5. Visit their Facebook page or their website for more information, SpivaArts.org.

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