Marta Churchwell: Six Southwest Missouri artists selected for Missouri Art Now exhibit | Lifestyles

Congratulations are in order for six Joplin and Neosho artists who will represent the artistic talents of Southwest Missouri in a touring art exhibit, Missouri Art Now, that is part of this year’s state bicentennial observance.

The artists’ work was among 60 pieces selected from 400 statewide entries in the competitive exhibition, designed to showcase the state’s vibrant arts and culture as part of the bicentennial. The exhibit will tour the state with stops at Spiva Center for the Arts and Post Art Library.

Those selected to represent this area and their works that were selected are Steve Doerr, Joplin, “Copper Treasure,” a wood turning; Jim Jackson, Joplin, “Red Sphere,” a brazed steel and plexiglass sculpture; Mary Datum, Joplin, “Shoal Creek in Fall,” an oil painting; Jade Henning, Joplin, “Finch,” a mixed media piece; Sarah Serio, Neosho, “Angle of Small Deaths,” a hand-carved reduction block print; and Lori Marble, Neosho, “Firecracker,” a mixed media piece.

I know each of these artists and the caliber of their work. They weren’t accepted into the state exhibition by coincidence. They have won prizes in area exhibitions and half of them have had their works accepted into national competitions, so their work earned its way into the bicentennial exhibit. They represent the caliber of Joplin area artists well.

They were among 15 artists selected to represent a 31-county region that includes Jasper and Newton counties. An equal number of pieces was selected for each of four regions in the state. Because Spiva and PAL are among the Missouri Art Now exhibit partners, judges for this region were primarily from the Joplin area, plus Springfield, but none were staff of Spiva or PAL, said Susan Adams, Spiva interim director.

The Missouri Art Now exhibit will tour the state from March 5 through Nov. 7. It will be on display at Spiva with select pieces at PAL from May 29 through July 17. Other tour venues will be in Cape Girardeau, Columbia, Hannibal, and St. Joseph.

The Missouri Art Now exhibition is among a variety of art-related projects that are part of the celebration of Missouri’s 200th year of statehood this year. Some projects began two years ago and started touring the state last year with completion of the tours this year.

Among them was a photography competition, My Missouri 2021.

Of the nearly 1,000 photographs submitted to the competition, 200 were selected for inclusion in the Missouri Bicentennial Collection, designed to create a snapshot of the state’s physical and cultural landscape for use by researchers, teachers and students. The collection will have a permanent home at the State Historical Society in Columbia after a 16-venue tour that began in June 2020 and will continue through November. Ten venues are on the 2021 schedule. One of the tour stops will be Sept. 4 through Sept. 26 at the Joplin Public Library.

Area entries accepted for the collection include images of Shoal Creek, Southwest Missouri landscapes and street scenes, the I Am Joplin mural in the local downtown district, the Neosho Fish Hatchery, the Kneeling Miner statue and Minerva Candy Co. in Webb City, the Lawrence County Courthouse in Mount Vernon, and Red Oak farm near Carthage. A digital exhibit of the collection can be viewed online at

Another project focused on creation of a Missouri Bicentennial Quilt to showcase the unique characteristics of each county, plus the City of St. Louis. More than 200 quilt blocks were submitted by individual quilters and quilting groups with 115 selected for incorporation into the quilt.

The quilt panel representing Jasper County features an image of the Kneeling Miner statue in Webb City and the panel for Newton County is an image of renowned scientist George Washington Carver, who was raised in the Diamond area. They were created by Robyn Gragg of Lone Jack.

The quilt pieces for each county can be viewed online at

People who attended the 2019 Joplin Arts Fest got the opportunity to participate in yet another project, Missouri Bicentennial Paint for a Cause, the creation of a mural that will hang in a state office building in Jefferson City. The festival was among 15 statewide stops in which people were given the opportunity to brush paint onto the mural.

When the 12- by 30-foot aluminum mural is eventually completed it will be constructed of 15 panels, each 4- by 6-foot in size. The mural design includes the state seal, flag and capitol building, and such state symbols as the bluebird, the mule, the crawdad, and the fiddle. It also features state landmarks, including the St. Louis Gateway Arch.

The Joplin area is playing an integral part in the bicentennial with selection of local artists, photographers and venues for exhibits. It’s recognition of Joplin as a thriving community and it steels its reputation for the arts.

For more information on bicentennial activities, go to

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