A debatable question in the Carthage community has been asked. Do you consider Carthage art hard to find?
Besides the mainstream artists such as Andy Thomas, Bob Tommey, Larry Glaze and Lowell Davis, some people have expressed surprise by the number of other local artists and galleries. The well-known events such as the Midwest Gathering of the Artists, Maple Leaf Festival and the (growing in popularity) Carthage Art Walks are hard to miss – but what else is there?
Koka Art Gallery, artCentral at Hyde House, Cherry's Custom Framing & Art Gallery and the young talent at the Carthage High School under the direction of Cheryl Church, are just a few of the places that can be overlooked in the art community.
“There's a lot of art here that people don't see,” said Helen Ryan, Joplin, potter at the Mud Puddle. “People don't realize Carthage is a hub in the art community.”
The Mud Puddle is located downstairs of the Emporium on the Square. Ryan says her workshop receives several visitors, and enjoys the location immensely.
On an opposing side, Debby Jeffries, Carthage, says finding the local art is easy.
“I don't consider Carthage's art community hidden,” she said. “artCentral does a good job of making the public aware of openings, visiting artists and workshops offered. Carthage hosts the Midwest Gathering of Artists each year, a well publicized event. The quarterly Art Walk on the Square seems to be a success, too … Of course, more opportunity to appreciate the artists in our area and to encourage new artists would always be welcome.”
Ross Gipson, formally of Carthage and art enthusiast, said new art isn't welcomed with open arms.
“I think the reason the Carthage art community has remained hidden is because of the way the community perceives art as a whole,” he said. “Ever since I was a kid, Carthage has only had a handful of 'Carthage Artists' who do work that caters to what the community desires, mainly work that contains subject matter with a local flare, or that is historical in nature, work that people want to hang in their homes. I don’t want to suggest that I have a problem with these artists. I don’t. I think they are all very talented and produce fantastic work. My problem is that the community has held these artists up and said, 'this is what Carthage art is,' and the result has been an influx of similar styles and subject matter flooding into what few galleries we have. Again, I’m not saying that subject matter like this is bad either, but any time there is a demand for one kind of thing, it hurts the people doing other things.
“There are a lot of terrific artists in the community, and the area, but without an increasing interest in the kind of art they’re doing, or unless more venues become, no one is ever going to know who they are. I do believe the situation is getting better. Events, like Midwest Gathering of Artists, and the Carthage and Joplin art walks, have given more community artists a venue to exhibit their work and generate interest. Ultimately, though, I think the community could do better by businesses asking artists to exhibit their work on their walls, or by the implementation of more opportunities for artists to exhibit their work.”
Page 2 of 2 - Neely Myers, membership director for the Carthage Chamber of Commerce, begs to differ on the opinion that new artists aren't welcome in the art community.
“The next Carthage Art Walk is scheduled for April 13-14,” she said. “If anyone is interested in participating, they are welcome to come to the office of the Convention and Visitor's Bureau, 402 S. Garrison and pick up an application. There is plenty of space for new and returning artists.”