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Joplin celebrates 125th birthday of local artist, Thomas Hart Be - KOAM TV 7

Joplin celebrates 125th birthday of local artist, Thomas Hart Benton

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Joplin's rich display of art is now honoring the man who gave it a whole new meaning.

Tuesday (April 15th) would've been Thomas Hart Benton's 125th birthday.

"Only 7 cities in the world are having Thomas Hart Benton recognition on his 125th birthday. We're the only one in Missouri." says Director of Joplin Convention & Visitors Bureau, Patrick Tuttle.

Benton was at the forefront of a revolution in the art world, 'regionalism', which concentrated on everyday people, specifically from Southwest Missouri.

"He was much more interested in portraying Midwestern subjects, working people, very very much interested in this social presentation of working people." Jo Mueller, Director of Spiva Center for the Arts explains.

A Neosho-born resident, Benton began his career as a cartoonist for the newspaper, but his style quickly expanded.

"He was a lithographer, he was a water-colorist, he was painter, he did drawings, large scale muralist. " Mueller explains.

The new exhibit displayed in Joplin City Hall showcases rarely seen works from Benton, so rare...that many aren't sure where they came from.

"They're from his personal era. Ones he personally sketched. Whether they are actually part of Joplin, we don't know those history pieces behind them, but they're all of the era that we so cherish." Tuttle adds.

Benton's art legacy that he left in the city of Joplin is truly one of a kind, and you can find that here in the mezzanine of city hall. You can find everything from the start to finish, which is something no one else has.

Upstairs in the Mezzanine of City Hall, you find a permanent exhibit dedicated to Benton, where you can visually see his whole process for a work of art.

"He started with sketches. He sketched people. There are people in this mural that he knew and he used as his subject. He also created clay models for many of his pieces. Joplin is fortunate to have one of those models because he usually destroyed them." Mueller explains.


Benton's works will be on display until May 9th. The exhibit is located on the first floor of City Hall during regular business hours.


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