Art Within Reach

Dispersed throughout 417-land is a buzzing art scene that is constantly evolving and growing.

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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George A. Spiva Center for the Arts 
222 W. Third St., Joplin, 417-623-0183, 

First opening its doors in 1947, George A.
Spiva Center for the Arts has made it a mission to celebrate the creative experience. For decades, Spiva has served as the hitching post for art in the Joplin area. It hosts numerous shows throughout the year, ranging from photography and paintings to sculpture and fiber arts. Over the years, the center’s claim to fame has become PhotoSpiva, the longest-running photo competition of its kind in the United States. Part of its popularity stems from its accessibility, as photographers of all skill levels are welcome to participate. Each year, hundreds of photos are submitted from all across the country. The 2014 competition is March 8 to May 4. Visit for more info. 


Springfield Art Museum
1111 E. Brookside Dr., Springfield, 417-837-5700,

Home to an impressive collection of more than 9,000 pieces, the Springfield Art Museum is very much at the center of the art scene in Springfield. From the time it was incorporated in 1928, the museum has made it a mission to place art at the fingertips of those who are interested. Its gallery space hosts work by artists from Rembrandt to Warhol, and it even features a variety of local artists. Its impressive auditorium hosts performances by theater and musical groups, including Springfield Contemporary Theatre, The Springfield Regional Opera: A Lyric Theatre and more. In recent news, the museum announced it is unveiling a new outdoor concert series in summer 2014 that will host music shows, ranging from rock to classical, on the first Saturday of the month. 

Inside its walls, the museum houses a wide range of art, including ceramics, decorative arts and contemporary paintings. There’s even a wing of the museum lined with classrooms where those with even the slightest artistic inclination can try their hands at painting, pottery and sculpture. 

Aspiring artists or everyday art enthusiasts can also pick up new techniques and get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into an artist’s methods at the museum’s regular Artists Talks. At the talks, featured artists are invited to speak about their work, methodology and techniques. 

An inside look with Julie Blackmon. Next to take the stage at an Artists Talk is renowned photographer Julie Blackmon. Her show, which opened September 14 and runs through January 19, features large-scale photographs of her domestic scenes that tap into the surreal nature of domestic life. Her talk takes place October 17 at 5:30 p.m. in the auditorium, and like the rest of this museum experience, it’s free to attend. 


Fresh Gallery 
400 W. Walnut St., Springfield, 417-862-9300,

This cooperative art gallery is made up of approximately 20 artists, and each one does a lot more than simply display his or her work at the gallery. Each artist is juried in by a committee that looks at new artist applications every two months. During those two months, artists display their work, whether it’s sculpture, jewelry, wood carving or painting, and they all share shifts to keep the gallery doors open. As a result, there is always new art on display, as different artists rotate in every month. The gallery is also a participant in Springfield’s popular First Friday Art Walk, and several of the featured artists make an appearance to chat, discuss their work and meet the viewing public. 

351 N. Boonville, Springfield,

Photo courtesy Meganne Rosen O’Neal

The ideaXfactory is not your traditional art gallery. Only three to four artists are featured at one time, and none of this art is for sale. Instead, ideaXfactory is a place where artists can tap into new art forms and work together to create larger-than-life art installations. As one of the newest member to the Springfield art scene, this space tends to blur the lines between traditional visual art and modern day performance art. Launched in October 2012 after receiving a grant from ArtPlace America, the ideaXfactory set to work turning a vacant city building into a hotspot for contemporary art installations. When it comes to securing grants, Springfield is often overlooked for sexier cities like St. Louis or Kansas City. But not this time. This time, the creative masterminds behind the ideaXfactory put Springfield on the map. Out of the 70 cities that have received grants from ArtPlace America, Springfield is one of only two from Missouri. Now that deserves a round of applause. 

The idea behind the ideaXfactory is simple: It’s a place where artists can dive into types of art they otherwise might not have had the opportunity to experience. But more importantly, the new art center is all about turning up the volume on the local art scene. It wants to create a real buzz about art. 

Only a few artists can be featured at a time because the installments are so large, so the shows change every two months or so. And unlike most other art galleries, there’s nothing for sale here. Again, it’s about the art itself and about getting local artists to network with each other. From massive yarn installations and an interactive wall of neon lights to musical performances and educational art panels, you never know exactly what you’ll find next at the ideaXfactory. But that guessing game is half of the fun, and you can bet that it’ll be creative. To stay up to date on recent happenings at the ideaXfactory, check out its monthly blog at and click on “Springfield.” 

Local Color Art Gallery & Studio
1027 S. Main St., Joplin, 417-553-0835,

Photo courtesy Local Color Art Gallery

After working out of a one-room home, six local painters scored some extra legroom when they moved into the historic Gryphon building in downtown Joplin in 2010. Housed under a new roof, the artist collaborative has grown in size and now includes 15-plus artists of all sorts. From paintings, wood carvings, jewelry and pottery, there’s a little bit of everything tucked into this gallery. Even better, making a pit stop by Local Color often includes a behind-the-scenes view of art in the making, as the gallery doubles as a studio. Local Color even has painting classes every Saturday afternoon for ages 8 and older. One of the gallery’s most popular classes is its once-a-month Vino and Van Gough class where wine and light hors d’oeuvres combine with a night of painting. Be sure to check to find out about upcoming Vino and Van Gough nights and learn about workshops hosted by nationally known artists. 


407 N. Boonville Ave., Springfield, 417-278-6377

Photo courtesy LemonDrop/Squidfoo

About to enter its fifth year, LemonDrop has had quite the coming-of-age. Now a mixed-use space that blends a gallery, studio and music venue, LemonDrop actually started as a recording label before changing directions and starting the non-profit group it is today. 

For several years, the gallery  hosted art reaching across all mediums before it found itself in need of a new building. So with its belongings boxed up, LemonDrop took a temporary hiatus until the opportunity arose this year to merge with SquidFoo Gallery on Boonville Avenue in Springfield. With extra space to fill and even more creative minds churning away under one roof, LemonDrop morphed into an all-out hub for the arts. It hosts out-of-the-box gallery exhibitions, provides studio space and serves as an all-ages music venue. 

Photos by Meganne Rosen O’Neal

Soon to come, the gallery will be adding art classes to its list of offerings. Of course, like everything else it does, these won’t be your traditional painting classes. LemonDrop is all about making art more accessible, which means you’ll find classes for things like needle felting here. And for those who just want to jive, LemonDrop and SquidFoo combine efforts to host Art Jam, an open studio session, Sundays from 4 to 6 p.m. There anyone is invited to bring their art of choice and set up shop at the gallery. 

As for art shows, the gallery débuts a new art lineup the first Friday of each month and welcomes four to five music performances a month. But art fanatics beware. These aren’t your traditional gallery receptions. LemonDrop tend to play off of the obscure. They have included a Star Wars tribute, a shout-out to Halloween creatures, an artistic take on the seven deadly sins and even one show that featured artwork done by tattoo artists. Just visit for news on upcoming shows, and be sure to mark your calendar for the much-loved annual Post-it art show where artists create a piece of art using a minimum of 15 Post-it notes. At the show, each piece of art is sold for $1 per Post-it. What a great way to start your personal art collection! The next Post-it show is December 6.


Koka Art Gallery 
409 S. Main St., Carthage, 417-358-2889,

Located just south of the historic square in Carthage, Koka Art Gallery is a melting pot for artists from all over the western corner of 417-land, including Joplin, Jasper, Neosho, Nevada and Carthage. At any given time, the small-town gallery displays pieces by a collection of more than 30 artists, and it has two to three shows on its calendar each year. 

Relatively new to the 417-land art scene, Koka opened up shop six years ago and moved into the old savings and loan building. Besides serving as a home for dozens of local artists, the gallery doubles as the studio for photographer Koral Martin, who specializes in floral and landscape photography. Over the years, word of mouth has kept this gallery fully packed to capacity. There’s always a waiting list of artists trying to get in the gallery. With buzzing art centers (including the ever-so-popular George A. Spiva Center for the Arts) just around the corner in Joplin, Koka has helped emerging artists establish footing by giving them some pretty valuable real estate on the gallery’s walls. From up-and-comers to well-established names, the mix of experience is a big part of what has made Koka a successful gallery. Also, the spot is a great place to spot the next big name in the 417-land art scene, especially during Carthage Art Walk, when artists hit the pavement and take part in the evening by mingling with the public.


Ralph Foster Museum at College of the Ozarks 
100 Opportunity Ave., Point Lookout, 417-690-3407,

You won’t find a huge collection of modern art at the Ralph Foster Museum. Instead, it’s a step back in time as you take in a snapshot of what life in the Ozarks was like decades ago. Opened in the late 1920s, the museum started collecting anything and everything depicting life in the Ozarks. As a result, all three floors are packed with paintings, sculptures, wedding dresses, christening gowns, preserved china, kitchen trinkets and even a 9-foot polar bear. While most of the museum is dedicated to the past, there is also an art gallery that exhibits two to three shows each year. Spring welcomes the annual children’s art show, and in the fall, the White River Painting Show returns as a way to highlight works by local artists. 


Cherry’s Art Emporium
311 S. Main St., Carthage,, 417-358-2707

Photo courtesy Cherry’s Art Emporium


New to the art scene in Carthage is Cherry’s Art Emporium On The Square. While the gallery itself might be new, owner Cherry Babcock has been in the business for several years. Before opening the emporium this August, Babcock ran a custom framing shop in Carthage that had a small art gallery crammed in as well. When the opportunity to open a full-blown art gallery presented itself, Babcock jumped at the chance and quickly relocated to the Carthage square. The new space is at least four times larger than her old shop, which gives Babcock plenty of room to display works by some 30 artists. There’s a little bit of everything here, including wooden sculptures, bronzes, oils and water colors and a variety of styles ranging from realism to impressionism. Babcock is even hosting a long list of art classes for both adults and children and is continuing her custom framing business. Also exciting, the emporium is attached to The Woodshed, a bluegrass music venue that plays shows on the first and third Friday of each month. Stay tuned for more updates from the Woodshed as it looks to expand its musical repertoire with folk and ragtag.

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