Last rotation of Art in Our City exhibition on display until Oct. 20


The fourth and final six-month rotation of the Springfield Art Museum’s Art In Our City exhibition went on display March 23 and features 10 artists from seven neighborhoods located in City Council Zone 4.

The featured artists are:

  • Morgan Frew, Seminole Holland
  • Penny Gordon-Chumbley, Seminole Holland
  • Holly Goodwin, Meador Park
  • Donald Allen, University Heights
  • John Short, Sequiota
  • Scott Phifer, Brentwood
  • Katherine Botts Whitaker, Brentwood
  • Janelle Patterson, Southern Hills
  • Janeshae Henderson, Southern Hills
  • Sarah Gatewood, Lake Springfield

Zone 4 is located in the southeast quadrant of the city and is represented by Councilman Matthew Simpson. Selections were made by Springfield Art Museum Director Nick Nelson, from an open call for artists in the summer of 2017. The artists’ works range from painting, to photography, to textiles. Their work will show through Oct. 20.

The museum has long collected works by local artists including Julie Blackmon, Bill Armstrong, Bill Wright, Jacob Burmood, Robert E. Smith, Beverly Hopkins, Dwaine Crigger, Rodney Frew, Sarah Perkins, Roberta Stoneman Baker, Louis Freund and Elsie Bates Freund, among others.

Representative works by these artists are frequently on view in the museum’s semi-permanent rotating exhibition of the museum’s permanent collection, Creating An American Identity, placed within the larger context of the contemporary American art world.

“Art In Our City is unique in that it places the emphasis solely on living local artists who are currently working,” says Joshua Best, Development and Marketing Coordinator. “The exhibit’s location in Avant Art places it at the forefront of the museum, making these works some of the first that patrons encounter upon entering the museum.”

About the exhibition

Art In Our City is a special exhibition that highlights local artists and the character of Springfield’s unique neighborhoods. Art In Our City debuted in October 2017, featuring artwork from eight artists living or creating in five neighborhoods located in Zone 1. More than 76,000 patrons have visited the museum since this exhibition opened.

In addition to its great neighborhoods, Springfield is home to a vibrant artistic community, which inspired Nelson to dedicate the museum’s flexible gallery space, Avant Art, to local artists over the two years of the Art In Our City initiative.

“The Art In Our City exhibition highlights and celebrates the creativity of the Springfield community, focusing on artists living and working in the neighborhoods that make up our city. This exhibition not only concentrates on the artists on display, but the neighborhoods they live in and what it means to live and work creatively here,” Nelson said.

About the pieces

“Time Dilation,” by Morgan Frew
Oil on wood panel, neon, electronic transformer

“‘Time Dilation’ is part of a larger body of work title ‘Cosmic Debris,'” Frew says. “Combining the media of painting and neon, Cosmic Debris explores the vastness of the universe, the transience of the individual, and the life force that connects all things. The essential pigments in oil paints … the noble gases that animate neon tubes … and the physical architecture of the human body … all are made from the dust of stars. Yet despite our inherent connection to a vast universe, our own human affairs are impossibly small and perhaps accidental in the grand scheme of things.”
“‘Cosmic Debris,’ highlights this contrast: the impermanence of a single life, the infinite nature of life itself. The juxtaposition is both unsettling and comforting. The neon phrases that illuminate these paintings evoke these enigmas for me: the cycle of breath, the cycle of stars, and the deep serenity that comes from contemplating the night sky,” he added.

“Molecular Koi,” by Holly Goodwin
Ink on paper

“In 2012 at the age of 33, I was diagnosed with a very rare form of muscular dystrophy called McArdle’s disease, which is a genetic condition that affects my skeletal muscles and causes constant fatigue. It is incurable,” Goodwin says. “I became passionate about exploring the genetic structure of my own cells and DNA and the damage that can be caused due to the delicate nature of my skeletal muscles. I have used tiny muscle molecules for my ink illustrations. I have illustrated a variety of creatures with my molecular doodles to express different emotions. The koi represent tranquility, peace and acceptance of my diagnosis.”

“I use my artwork as a vehicle to explore my own emotional journey and to simultaneously educate others and bring awareness to diseases that remain unseen. It is a personal dream of mine to show my work in The Springfield Art Museum and it is such an honor to be chosen to represent artists in our city,” she added.

“Remember,” by Don Allen
Acrylic and crayons on canvas

“I love the bright colors that acrylic provides and the depth, patterns, and richness that crayons add to the painting.  In ‘Remember,’ I recreate a moment with my partner standing out in a field overlooking a hillside covered in lavender. The original setting was inspired by a field in Spain but the setting could be anyplace that brings back fond memories for the observer whether it is from Spain, Italy, or the Ozark hills,” Allen says.

“My paintings grow organically as I paint and I like to include symbolism, sometimes unconsciously.  In this painting, pineapples in the lower border are symbolic of warmth, friendship, and hospitality. Bamboo is a symbol of love, wisdom, and happiness. I frequently stop by the Springfield Art Museum to tap into the creativity of other artists and be inspired. It is an honor to have my painting displayed there,” he added. 

“Now, Where Was I?,” by Katherine Botts Whitaker
Gouache and embroidery floss on canvas

“My Sewing Samplers series uses traditional sewing sampler techniques in a contemporary way. Sewing samplers were at one time foundational to young women’s education. But, in my lifetime, computerized, digitally programmable embroidery machines for home-sewers have always existed,” Botts Whitaker says.

“While my grandma was teaching me to sew traditional sampler stitches, she was teaching herself to use a digital embroidery machine. Thus, if machines exist to construct perfect samplers, how then, do we re-think the purpose of the sewing samplers? My contemporary samplers use gouache underpaintings as the base layer to non-objective sewing samplers. As a freelance designer for the Springfield Art Museum, I worked on the marketing materials for String Theory. Studying the textile collection at the museum interested me in re-approaching my hobbies from a fine art perspective,” she added.

“Friends and Allies,” by M. Scott Phifer
Mixed media with spray paint, acrylics and oil pastels

“’Friends and Allies,’” is an intuitive mixed-media piece,” Phifer says. “Having this piece in the Springfield Art Museum is a great thing. The Springfield Art Museum has always been a place I have enjoyed visiting to see the variety of art and now my piece will be there for others to enjoy.




“Mon Monet,” by Penny Gordon-Chumbley
Mixed media primarily of painted pieces of paper, cut and glued onto canvas

“A few years ago, I was privileged to have seen an exhibit of Monet’s cut paper pieces in New York City. A world of possibilities opened up for me and I began to save the paint from my painted works, paint the leftover paint onto scrap pieces of watercolor paper, cut them apart and glue them into garden scenes,” Gordon-Chumbley says. “My husband coined the term “fleurage,” a combination of the French word for flower and collage, the process I use for these creations.”

“The Springfield Art Museum is a big part of my world; I live in the neighborhood and visit it frequently. Exhibiting there with my neighbors, in a place that has brought me much joy, gives me an even greater connection to the museum and to my neighborhood,” she added.

“Harvest,” by John Short
Mixed media, oil and acrylic base

“There are four panels in the lamp and the media I use is mixed, oil base and acrylic base for the reason that some colors of each base may or may not lend to translucent light. Of course, this is not any usage of either one that was ever thought of at development. When painting in reverse with a back light, you are talking about sign cabinets intended for exterior use. The paints used for signage are usually solvent-based translucent colors best for light transmission, sprayed letters, graphic elements and backgrounds,” Short says.

“In my adaptation of the media I use the base and colors that work best for the application method I use. My motivation for this piece originally was to satisfy the adaptation of the Japanese rice paper lantern to a hand-applied study of images in my style that would also be backlit,” he added.

“Tower Theater,” by Janelle Patterson
Acrylic on canvas

“There are so many interesting places around this area, and I’ve so enjoyed painting many of them over the last few years,” Patterson says. “‘Tower Theater’ is from my ‘Placenalities’ series.  For this series, I created several pieces based on local landmarks that meld a portion of the history or identity of the structure with its current architectural appearance. These pieces allow me to show the emotions I sense with these locations visually through their abstracted backgrounds.

“It was a joy to work on this piece. I’m over the moon to have been chosen to participate in this exhibition.  It is such an honor to have one of my pieces included among those of so many other amazing local artists. I also love that for a while a little part of me will get to reside in the same building as so many great master artists. What an inspiring life experience that the Springfield Art Museum has provided,” Patterson says.

“Emerge,” by Sarah Gatewood
Acrylic on canvas

“This piece was inspired by the color blue and that was going to be somewhat of a challenge. Most of my paintings before this one heavily showcased warm tones of red, orange, yellow and brown. Simply put, I wanted to try something opposite,” Gatewood says. “As you can see, I still incorporated my warm palette and did so in a way that it almost dominates the space. This time I could not put aside my love of those warm tones. When I finished the painting, I felt like I was looking through the cool water into the blazing sun.”

“It is an honor to have my work displayed at our Springfield Art Museum. My late grandmother loved visiting and she would be so proud of me. The thought of her viewing my work in a place she thought so highly of makes me feel incredibly valued. Thank you Springfield Art Museum for this amazing opportunity,” she added.

“Scoliosis,” by Janeshae Henderson
Digital photograph

“What inspired this piece and the project ‘Permanent Fear’ behind it, was my curiosity and interest of skin: what it can do and how it can heal. The deeper I got in to the project, the more it changed. The end result being that this project, including this photo was all about me and my fear of something like this happening to me. I am not fearful of the permanent scar, but the pain behind it,” Henderson said.

“I have been living in Springfield for about seven years, and I have visited the Springfield Art Museum on several occasions. Having my work being on display at a place where I have enjoyed other amazing artists work is amazing! I am forever grateful for the opportunity,” she added.


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