COLUMBIA - Saws were still buzzing and art was still being hung late Friday morning when the Columbia Art League's first show in its new gallery opened. Walking by, it was unclear whether the exhibit was open yet; the hubbub of finishing touches made the show organizers and construction workers the focus, not the art.
"The Artists Behind the Artists: Celebrating Mizzou's Art Education Graduate Program" - which did open on time - is the Art League's first show in its fresh space within the newly remodeled Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts.
What: "The Artists Behind the Artists: Celebrating Mizzou's Art Education Graduate Program"
When: Now through Aug. 16. The gallery is open from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. A reception will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 13.
Where: At the Columbia Art League's new gallery in the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts, 207 S. Ninth St.
The exhibit showcases the art of graduates of MU's art education program and the educators who fostered their creative growth. It captures the circle of art life in Columbia: MU art education professors teach their students, which enables them to go on and teach students of their own.
"For me as a professor at MU of art education, I have a firmly held belief that art teachers not only teach but are artists as well," said Kathy Unrath, a professor for MU's art education department. "We wanted to showcase that they're producing, and are creative people. This is counter to the old adage ‘those who can't do, teach.' We both do and teach. This is for the community to be able to come in and see the kind of art teachers can produce."
The show celebrates art educators of all levels, but their underlying tie is that they're all graduates of the MU art education department. Some are already teaching, some are not yet and some have moved out of the area, said Diana Moxon, executive director of Columbia Art League.
"It's a celebration of the work they (the graduates) do, the work they do in the community," Moxon said. "Many stay in Columbia and teach. It's celebrating the flow of art and art knowledge. It's great to be able to have their art here. It celebrates the rhythm of art life in Columbia."
The exhibition showcases grads who now live all over the world, including works from artists who teach as far away as Seoul and Nigeria, and as close as Hickman and Rock Bridge high schools.
About 10 of these far-reaching works were from Larry Kantner, professor emeritus of MU's art education program, who has collected the works of some of his doctoral students.
The joint efforts of the MU art education program and the Columbia Art League provided a venue for the community to see that art teachers are artists continuing to produce art, Unrath said.
"My dream is for people to come into the gallery and say, ‘That's my art teacher. Wow, my art teacher really is an artist.'" Unrath said.
She thinks this dream has been realized in the diversity and strength of the art on display.
"Diana (Moxon) told me this is one of the strongest shows ever at the Columbia Art League," Unrath said. "That says a lot about the MU art education program."