You do it.
I do it.
At one point every single one of us is guilty of plugging into mass-produced cultural entertainment of – let’s face it – marginal quality in our recreational time.
Because it’s easy. It requires very little effort on our part. Just log in to Netflix and zone away.
While doing so has its place in the hierarchy of destressing modes, we often forget that there are other ways in which we can unwind while simultaneously enriching our lives.
But that takes planning, and travel time, and money, you say. (Geez, you sound like my children!)
If your mission is to travel to Kansas City, or Tulsa, or northwest Arkansas to visit the revered cultural institutions there, then, yes, it will take some effort and planning.
But I’m here to tell you that there is another way. You can forgo that hassle and refill your cultural well right here in Joplin with very little planning or travel time.
And you can do it for free.
Perchance to Dream by Paula Giltner
On a recent Saturday, I announced to my brood that we would be going to the George A. Spiva Center for the Arts that afternoon to view the annual membership show. My declaration was met with belabored groans and steely glares that silently cursed me.
Who did I think I was trying to enrich their lives?
Afternoon came, and after thirty minutes of gently reminding my family that we would soon be leaving and barely receiving a grunt in response, I began turning off and unplugging various devices. You can guess how well that went over.
We finally piled into the minivan, along with a variety of Oscar-caliber whining and complaining. During the ten-minute drive to Spiva, I tuned out the back-seat grumbling and focused on my breathing, silently repeating this mantra: I will expose them to culture. I will expose them to culture. I will expose them to culture.
And they’ll like it, by golly. That’s the censored version of my thought, anyway.
Once inside the exhibit at Spiva, it only took a few minutes before I noticed a change in my kids. At times, they were actually getting lost in their thoughts while studying the artwork, and at other times they were enjoying the playful side of artistic expression.
My littlest chick posing by Ruth Miller‘s Under the Feather
This exhibit was the Spiva Membership Show, which takes place at the end of every year. Admission to the exhibit is free, although donations are always welcome.
This annual exhibit showcases the work of around 100 area artists; we have some incredibly talented artists in the Joplin area, I might add.
The Membership Show was juried, and there were cash prizes totaling $2,400 awarded in the adult category, and prizes totaling $600 in the youth category.
There were ceramics, watercolors, oil paintings, photographs, sculptures, and mixed media pieces.
The Dream of Flight by Jeffrey Jones
Not only was I excited to surround myself and my family with high-quality art, I was surprised to discover that I had met at least half of the artists whose works were on exhibit. I don’t say that to give you the impression that I frequent art galleries all the time, dahling. Actually, most of my time is spent running kids to their various activities, so on the rare occasion that I meet a local artist whose talent blows me away, it makes quite an impression on me.
It just so happens that there are some big players making their rounds in the arts community here in the Ozarks, and they’ve got my attention.
Princess and the Pea by Natalie Wiseman
An added bonus of the Membership Show is that many of the pieces were for sale; the pieces that I liked the most ranged in price from $100 to $3,200.
Dear Family: Read this post carefully for gift ideas for Christmas and/or my birthday, and/or just because you love me for exposing you to real-life culture. In addition to the pieces in the exhibit, there’s also some incredible jewelry in Spiva’s gift gallery that caught my eye. Oh, and a gift certificate to a Spiva art class would make a nice present, too – remember that funglass tray I made at a class there?
Birth of a Black Hole by Steve Doerr
When we were finished exploring the exhibit, I asked my family which pieces were their favorites. Here were their responses:
Teenager’s favorite: Dave’s Pain by Kevin Myers. Is she trying to tell me something?
Middle child’s favorite: Eclipse by Josie Mai
Youngest child’s favorite was Refugio: Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, by Brenda Sageng
Husband’s favorite: Mama’s Little Angel by Robyn Cook
My favorite: St. Amelia – Patron Saint of Amassment and Collection by Michele DeSutter
As we were leaving Spiva’s parking lot, I asked my family, “Who had a good time?”
Every single one of those former complainers immediately answered, “I did!”
Take that, Netflix. You don’t own us. We have the power to break free from our electronic trances and expose ourselves to real-life culture.
And we can fill up our cultural well right here in Joplin.
Life is a Circus by Debbie Reed
Spiva is located at 222 West Third Street in Joplin.
To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.