Over 60 years later, the center is successfully continuing its mission. There are new artwork exhibits in its three galleries every six weeks, and admission is free.To meet the needs and interests of artistic members of the community, Spiva also offers art classes throughout the year (for people of all ages), as well as summer camps. Spiva is able to offer these services and resources to the public thanks in large part to its members and volunteers.On my most recent visit to the center, I was fortunate to see the PhotoSpiva exhibit. The crisp white walls of the main gallery were punctuated with 82 fantastic photographs chosen from over 1,000 entries in the PhotoSpiva competition.Amateur and professional photographers from all over the United States participate in this annual competition. It is the longest-running competition of its kind, having begun in 1977.
In this year’s exhibit, I saw works from photographers from California, New York, Georgia, and Texas, plus several from the Four States (even a few from people that I know!). In addition to PhotoSpiva, other special events at the center include FilmSpiva, a competition where entrants are given 48 hours to complete a short film, and the Spiva Membership Show, where over 100 Spiva members present their own works of art to be exhibited.After I finished walking through the PhotoSpiva exhibit, I went to the upstairs gallery where “Faces of Hope: The Inspiring People of God’s Resort” was being exhibited. In these photos, local photographer Whitney Scott captures the spirit of people who have triumphed over major challenges in their lives while living at God’s Resort in downtown Joplin.
God’s Resort is an organization that provides affordable housing, and offers its residents assistance in overcoming poverty and addictions. Whitney Scott’s photographs of the residents are compelling and inspirational. I’m grateful to have seen the exhibit because I’d never heard of God’s Resort before. I’m glad to know that this organization exists and has helped transform the lives of many people in our city.After viewing the upstairs gallery, I went to the regional gallery on the first floor, and saw the exhibit “Natalie Wiseman: Un-Still Life.” This Joplin artist’s work is vibrant and whimsical, and I felt like I could walk through several more times and discover new details in each painting. Located next to the regional gallery is the gift shop – one of my absolute favorite places in Joplin for buying unique gifts. In fact, when I was there, I found a necklace to buy for my mom for Mother’s Day. When I went to check out, I asked the Spiva volunteer which artist had made the necklace, and she pointed to another woman standing at the front desk, Marta Churchwell. So, I had a chance to meet the artist who made the necklace. How cool is that?
That’s one of the reason’s why Spiva is so special in this community; it allows Joplin residents to easily connect with local artists. Whether it’s buying a handcrafted item in the gift store, appreciating the artwork of a local resident exhibited in the gallery, or learning a technique in a class taught by a Joplin artist, Spiva makes art accessible.
Thanks for making Spiva the fine art hub of the Four States.
George A Spiva Center For The Arts is located at 222 West Third Street in Joplin.
Click here to visit its website and click here to see its Facebook page.
To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.