I’d noticed them earlier when I pulled up the drive—the first lemon-tinted, end-of-summer scatter—maple leaves artfully sprinkled across our serene green grass. As an artist and artCentral’s executive director-curator, I may have a fair amount of creative power, but for the wonder of these perfectly placed omens I must give full credit to Mother Nature. She’s telling us ever-so-kindly that autumn’s waiting in the wings.
While the leaves begin to color brightly and twirl down from the canopy above our beautiful campus outside, our galleries inside are reflecting this annual miracle. “The Colors of Autumn” are displayed and ready for your viewing on the high walls throughout Hyde House, upstairs and down, generously underwritten by The Country Caboose Wedding Chapel and Railroad Museum and The Print House Fine Art.
Please come join me and artCentral’s board members and the artist photographers of the Four State Photography Enthusiasts for the exhibition opening reception: this coming Friday evening, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., at Hyde House, 1110 East Thirteenth Street. Admission is free. You’ll find complimentary libations for your enjoyment as you take in the wonders on our walls, then pause to visit and feast around our vintage, wooden table colorfully spread with autumnal fare presented by board member Lee Pound.
There is a backstory to every evolving season and to every exhibition, as well. Just as autumn follows summer, “The Colors of Autumn” comes to us as a lovely unfolding that began two or three years ago with a phone call from Jane Ballard. Jane wanted to know if her local photography group, the Four State Photography Enthusiasts (FSPE), might have a gallery exhibition at Hyde House. I assured her the possibility was likely, if their art was ready.
Visiting the group’s exhibit at the next Carthage Downtown Art Walk, I found my premonitions to be accurate. I saw talent that was worth sharing and suggested FSPE initially mount displays in artCentral’s three satellite galleries. Jane, herself a gifted photographer, agreed to serve as my co-curator for all three exhibits. Following these successful presentations, a gallery exhibition at artCentral was scheduled.
The Four State Photography Enthusiasts first started to develop somewhere around 2008 as Danny Wilson and Robert Vise became friends through an online forum for Missouri photographers. When they found out that they were both from the Joplin area, they started getting together and shooting everything from storms to skateboarders.
From the four state region they added to their adventures other like-minded folks who loved to play with their cameras. Soon they started having regularly scheduled get-togethers with area photographers, including hobbyists, amateurs and full time professionals. They discussed photography issues and went on photographic outings. From their group shoots and photo walks they learned new techniques. They had their limits pushed by monthly contests sponsored by Print House Fine Art in Carthage. Over the last ten years this group has learned about and practiced their passion—photography!
Since word of mouth was the only way local photographers would come to know about the group, the group initially grew very slowly. In the fall of 2009 Danny took the group to social media. The FSPE moniker was chosen, local professionals were asked to come and speak at their first-Tuesday-of-the-month meetings in Joplin where members, as well, spoke about their specialties
Through the social media format the FSPE now serves as a learning resource for members worldwide. FSPE has expanded rapidly, today boasting over 2,100 international members. If you want to participate in FSPE, go to Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/4Statephotogs/about/.
My collaborations with FSPE member, Jane Ballard, continue to be a source of great pleasure as she serves as co-curator for “Colors of Autumn”. She’s recently become a member of artCentral’s board of directors enriching our work with her experience, expertise and uniquely vivacious joie de vive. She’s also been raising awareness of the photography "industry" and local photographers by helping with the Spiva FSPE galleries over the past three years. She’ll assume direction over these in 2019, while she concurrently shares her booth at the Joplin Empire Market with fellow photographers.
Jane currently has a photograph, one of only fourteen selected, in an exhibit with the Photographic Society of Northwest Arkansas. She’ll have her own gallery exhibit in Neosho in March 2019 with the Neosho Arts Council and is working on several books of her photographs including "The Four Seasons through Photographs", just now available through Amazon.
Visit artCentral soon and see Jane Ballard’s beautiful photographs along with those of over two dozen other photographers in artCentral’s autumn season opening exhibition “Colors of Autumn”! The installation will be on view August 31 through September 23, 2018, while Mother Nature continues to scatter colorful leaves over our spacious lawn.