‘Missouri Through Lens and Palette’ juxtaposes paintings, photos

Wednesday, September 10, 2008 | 6:41 p.m. CDT; updated 10:30 a.m. CDT, Monday, September 15, 2008
"Farm Auction" by Jackson Lee Nesbitt, contributed by MU's Office of the Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services, is from about 1946 and is egg tempera on composition board.

COLUMBIA - Tough times often inspire art. That's true of "Missouri Through Lens and Palette," a new exhibit in MU's Museum of Art and Archaeology that juxtaposes paintings from the past 100 years and post-1948 photographs from the Missouri Photo Workshop.

The exhibit was timed to open just before the Missouri School of Journalism's centennial celebration, which began Wednesday. Part of what the exhibit captures is the feel of rural life that comes through examples from the Regionalist movement championed by Missouri artist Thomas Hart Benton. The details of small-town life pop through his lithograph and the paintings of other artists such as Georges Schreiber and Charles Morgenthaler on display.

If you go

WHAT: "Missouri through Lens and Palette," an exhibit of paintings and photographs

WHEN: Through Dec. 24. Gallery hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays

WHERE: Museum of Art and Archaeology, Pickard Hall, Ninth Street and University Avenue, Francis Quadrangle, MU




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Photographs from the workshop do the same; each year, photographers spend a week documenting a different Missouri community.

Missouri Photo Workshop founder Clifton C. Edom was inspired by the documentary photo unit of the Depression-era Farm Security Administration to create a workshop that would capture rural life as it happens. The workshop still operates under Edom's credo, "Show truth with a camera. Ideally truth is a matter of personal integrity. In no circumstances will a posed or fake photograph be tolerated."

Regionalist Jackson Lee Nesbitt followed the same guiding light when he painted "Farm Auction." The scene was modeled after the auction barn in Independence. Nesbitt first came across the auction barn while on a sketching trip with Benton. He started to frequent the weekly sales and became familiar with the regulars.

"The show has some truly spectacular paintings that have not been previously exhibited," said Mary Pixley, the museum's associate curator of European and American art, who selected the paintings in the exhibition. Works from the university, private collectors, the museum's private collection and works on loan from the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department and the Boone County Historical Society will be on display.

Photos for the exhibit were chosen by David Rees and James Curley, co-directors of the Missouri Photo Workshop. They spent seven or eight months poring over 4,000 photos in the workshop archives, Rees said, chairman of the photojournalism sequence in the School of Journalism. The idea behind the exhibit was to show the similarities and differences of the work done by the documentary photographers and artists associated with the regionalist movement, he said.

Pixley hopes that visitors enjoy the broad portrait of Missouri that has been assembled through painting and documentary photos as much as those who have worked on creating the exhibit.

"We have brought together images from the realms of art and documentary photography to explore the differing visions of Missouri as seen through the lens of the photographer's camera as well as the palette of the artist," Pixley said. "Together, they provide a fuller portrait of the people and land of Missouri - of the life of Missouri - in a way which has not previously been done."



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W. Arthur Mehrhoff November 7, 2008 | 10:31 a.m.

The University of Missouri Press has just published a wonderful book entitled Painting Missouri: The Counties En Plein Air, featuring paintings of every county in Missouri painted in the open air ( It's a great book in its own right but also a marvelous complement to "Missouri Through Lens and Palette."

(Report Comment)
Notley Hawkins December 17, 2008 | 2:30 p.m.

I saw the show yesterday and it's a wonderful show. A great juxtaposition of paintings and photographs by group of talented Missouri artists past and present. The photographs from the Missouri Photographers Workshop are in important document and real piece of Missouri History. I especially loved the paintings by Georges Schreiber.

I'm also a photographer who documents Missouri. Please check out my work at:

(Report Comment)

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