Who's Who in the Springfield Visual Arts Scene?

A subjective accounting of who’s doing some interesting art and who’s making and shaking the arts scene. Your eyeballs will thank us later.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this article was fact checked and accurate at press time, but 417 Magazine cannot guarantee its accuracy indefinitely.

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Chamber of commerce types love talking up Springfield as the “regional downtown” of southwest Missouri. The city is our population center and our economic hub. It’s also our aesthetic hub. While the arts flourish throughout the region, Springfield is now home to a proper urban visual arts scene, evidenced by a First Friday Art Walk that (finally) boasts its own website (ffaw.org), newsletter, spokesperson and sponsors. As you prepare for those crowded-wonderful Art Walks of the spring and summer (and fests like Arts Fest), here’s a who’s who guide to some of the names making Springfield a more creative place. How’d we make the list? We spoke to some people plugged into Springfield’s scene and asked their opinion, and mixed those names in with ones we know. Inevitably, the results are subjective (and listed in no particular order), so visit 417mag.com and pile on the story comments. Who should be on this list but isn’t? Who are your favorites?

Jan Hyde
A Springfield art dealer for many years, Hyde was long a main mover behind First Friday Art Walk, helping it reach its current standing-room-only popularity. She led the push to make downtown an arts district, not merely a nightlife district. Her galleries, Hyde Gallery and Walnut Street Gallery, showcase heartlander American regionalists of national reputation. Learn More: hydegallery.com

Photo Edward Biamonte

Susan Sommer-Luarca
Susan Sommer-LuarcaThe artist who will be live-painting at the Beijing Summer Olympics—she was chosen as an official artist for the event—has already done so at the Kentucky Derby and just last February at the Best of 417 Party. She’s got a reputation of national stature, plenty of commissions and her own gallery in downtown Springfield. Learn More: sslworldwide.com

Randy and Shannon Bacon
The photographer hubby shares who’s-who status with his make-it-happen manager wife. For years, Randy Bacon Photography has been a major First Friday Art Walk stop. When the Bacons chose to relocate their gallery into a building they christened the Monarch Art Factory in 2006, they opened their doors to a squadron of arts collectives that share space with Randy’s photographs. The place also hosts innovative musical acts that wouldn’t otherwise be in 417-land. Learn More: randybaconphotography.com

Robert E. Smith
You’ve seen this octogenarian painter’s work if you live in Springfield, even if you’re not sure who painted it. (A building that once housed this magazine is now named after him.) Of national stature, Smith’s raggedy, child’s-play (or are they?) canvases have earned him a rep as a “folk” or “outsider” artist.
Learn More: Smith’s work is sold by more than one Springfield gallery. Ffaw.org has info on many of them.

courtesy Brad Noble

Brad NobleThe premiere artist of southwest Missouri. Has been compared to Chagall; is represented by Weinstein Gallery in San Francisco, which also sells Chagall. And Picasso. And Dalí. You get the point. Noble started drawing at the age of 18 months; his career has taken his work to biennales in Italy and culture-palaces including the Moscow Museum of Modern Art. Learn More: b-noble.com

Rob Weislocher and Brian King
These gents own the MudHouse locations, as well as MudLounge and Gailey’s Breakfast Café. Seems like every trendy coffee shop puts art on its walls, but King and Weislocher’s choices as to what’s displayed at MudHouse determines some of the art seen by a wide swath of Springfield society who might not otherwise go to galleries or museums. Learn More: Visit the MudHouse, 323 South Ave., Springfield

Jane Troup
Troup creates market-friendly pet portraits featured in national magazines as well as thank-you cards and other items, but (most importantly) she creates paintings with a stylized, nature-fantasy aesthetic. It’s a world of wonder worth loving. It’s her work you’ve seen at venues such as MudLounge, Hyde Gallery and Hawthorn Galleries (which also focuses on local artists to a great degree). Learn More: janetroup.com

Jacqueline Warren
Drury’s artist-in-residence is a noted watercolorist. She divides her time between teaching in Springfield and studios in California and Florence, Italy. She has great influence over budding artists at Drury and is pals with art dealer Jan Hyde. Learn More: Search “Jacqueline Warren Portfolio” at drury.edu

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