Awards for the 22nd Annual Thomas Hart Benton Art Competition and Exhibition were presented Saturday in Neosho at the Big Spring Gallery. Neal Barbour, this year’s judge, presented 15 awards to area artists along with more than $1,000 in prize money.
“I was really impressed,” Barbour commented, “The quality of the show is remarkable.”
"This event was created to honor famed regionalist painter Thomas Hart Benton, a Neosho native, while creating an opportunity for area artists to exhibit their work and be seen by the community," explained Sarah Serio, Neosho Arts Council Board Member.
The Neosho Arts Council took over directorship of the event in 2016 to ensure the continuation of this two decades old tradition.
Awards were presented in both the emerging and professional divisions where 100 pieces of art were competing.
This year Best of Show went to Carol Melton (Lamar) for her oil painting “Muddy Creek.”
“It made me feel like I was in the painting, it was an immersive experience,” Barbour said of the piece.
Melton was award $500 and a solo exhibition of her work at the Big Spring Gallery in early 2018.
In the professional division first place went to Dan McWilliams (Jasper) for his oil painting “Incoming Clouds.”
“This was the first piece of the show that just captured me. It’s downright gorgeous,” Barbour said. “His brush work is so meticulous.”
Other professional division prizes included second place to Larry DeGraff (Ozark) for his oil painting “Arrangement in Orange and Green,” while third place was awarded to Sarah Serio (Neosho) for her hand carved 8 color reduction block print “One More Transaction Going Down,” and fourth place went to Brad Mace (Joplin) for his oil painting “Mho’s Got Your Back?”
In the emerging division Jackie Stone (Willard) took first place for her charcoal and graphite piece “Lean On Me,” while second place was awarded to Barbara Barley (Asbury) for her oil painting “Wish Me Luck,” third place went to Trish Robinson (Joplin) for her acrylic painting “Sausalito Boats,” and fourth place was awarded to Melody Knowles (Carthage) for her mixed media piece “3 Shamen.”
Margi Tucker (Bella Vista) took home the Mary Ellen Pitts Memorial Pastel Award for her piece “Portrait of a Blue Heron.” This award is in honor of the events late co-founders.
This year’s merit in acrylic went to Penny Bantel (Springfield) for “In Time,” the merit for mixed media award went to Pheobe Burke (Joplin) for “Haemothorax Colubris,” Marilyn York (Olathe, KS) took the merit for watercolor award for “Let’s Go Tubing,” and merit in oil was awarded to Robert Langford (Branson) for “A Toy With No Wheels,”
“We invite the public to come see this great showing of diverse work by area artists. It’s a unique mix of style and subject matter so there is something for everyone,” Serio said.
“Each piece in this show is an original, there are no giclée copies, so this is a great place to find a piece. Buying art for your home or office will give your space character and warmth while supporting the artist so they can continue creating work,” Serio added. “Each piece in this show is for sale and we are here to help make those sales happen.”
A reception will be held September 19 from 4:30 to 6:00pm and is free and open to the public of all ages. The exhibition is open for viewing Monday through Friday 8:30am to 4:00pm at 216 West Spring Street, Neosho, MO. You can view the winners online atwww.neoshoarts.net.