Joplin Arts Fest

Ahh, September in southwest Missouri.


It’s a time when the weighty summer air dissipates, revealing a clear sky the color of a robin’s egg. After spending the sizzling days of summer indoors in the air-conditioning, people emerge from their homes to breathe in the cooler air and to reconnect – with the outdoors and with each other.


When summer hibernation ends, the community festival season begins. One of the first festivals of the season is Joplin Arts Fest. This is the granddaddy of arts festivals in southwest Missouri, and it’s expected to draw a crowd of 20,000 art lovers to Main Street during this year’s event.





I went to Arts Fest last year and was wowed by the talent of the artists, both local and regional, who displayed their work. The artists’ booths were set up in the middle of Main Street which I liked because all of the visual art was centralized, and I was able to walk up one side of the street and down the other without missing any of the artists.


There’s pottery, glass art, sculptures, drawings, photography, woodworking, and jewelry (including one of my all-time local favorites Kristin’s Laboratory). Here are some of the highlights of my Arts Fest walk down Main Street, along with links to the artists’ websites so you can see for yourself how gifted they are, in case my photos don’t do them any justice.



Devon Baumann paints, draws, and uses mixed media (like wood) in her work. If you want more information about her work, you can email her at



I love this photo of her standing next to a cutout painting of her mother.


Steve Doerr of The Wooden Doerr turns pieces of wood into works of art.



To me, it’s a miracle how he does it. Check out the brilliant turquoise running through this piece of maple.



Absolutely stunning.


Moss Ridge DesignsEd Bratton of Rogers, Arkansas, patiently bends wire to make a tree sculpture.



It’s mesmerizing to watch him transform the plain, boring wire into delicate and unique pieces of art.




A few months ago, I walked into a gallery in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and saw several of these tree sculptures and I immediately remembered that I had first seen this artist at Arts Fest in 2015. Small world, huh?


Angel Brame of Dragonflies and Mud Pottery made these lovely pieces.



Have you ever tried to make pottery? I have, and my pieces did not look anything like Angel’s, but I had a blast making them. Try it out for yourself sometime at one of Joplin’s studios: Phoenix Fired Art and Crackpot Pottery and Art Studio.


This is Jane McCaulley of Jane’s Glass Art, and a former teacher of mine. I took a glass tray-making class from her last year at Spiva Center for the Arts and created a serving tray that I use fairly often because, well, I’m just so proud of it.




Oh, Jane, what you do with glass takes my breath away! These guitars are exquisite.





Lisa Krannichfeld, from Little Rock, Arkansas, creates with ink and watercolor in a nontraditional way, and pairs her paintings with unconventional materials like wood and resin.




Now for 2015 Joplin Arts Fest Best in Show: Natalie Wiseman.




I was introduced to Natalie’s work at Spiva Center for the Arts a few years ago and became an instant fan. Her bright, somewhat surreal still life paintings are whimsical and fun, like this one called Sink or Swim.




Arts Fest also has booths offering children’s activities, like this one from Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center where kids can make a painting with a fish stamp.



Adorable Ian Suzuki’s having fun creating a painting of two fish in love.




Performing arts have their place at Arts Fest, as well.  There’s a stage where local musicians and dancers perform throughout the day, like Luke Shafer from the group Me Like Bees, and dancers from Karen’s Dance Studio of Joplin (including my daughter this year, so I’m extra excited to go!).



Turn off the A/C, open those windows, and let that cool September air flow through your house. Meanwhile, you can join your friends and neighbors in downtown Joplin to celebrate the beauty of the season at Arts Fest.


For details about this year’s event, visit



To read more about my adventures in the area, visit