Historic Missouri Roadsides by Bill Hart

In his recent title Historic Missouri Roadsides, author Bill Hart takes readers on a journey of Missouri’s two-lane roads and highways. This wonderfully illustrated book is for both the figurative and literal traveler. In addition to beautiful photography, Hart offers facts about each destination, directions, and information about where to eat, stay, visit, and what to do, as well as a few travel tips. Perhaps unique to Hart’s adventure advice is that he does not manage your time, but encourages you “to take your time at every juncture of your trip” so that you may explore and enjoy Missouri’s heritage.  What’s more, all of his listings for food & drink, accommodations, and such are venues that are truly local to the area in which they are found.

The book proper is divided into six tours: Missouri Highway 79 / The River Road; El Camino Real; Route 100 / Gottfried Duden & the Lewis and Clark Trail; Osage Hills and Prairies; Mostly Route 24; and The Platte Purchase. Throughout each tour, Hart expertly covers historic, small-town Missouri. He engages with intriguing histories of towns traveled and captivates with photographic landscapes and streetscapes, ranging from beautiful buildings and homes in current use to structures that have either fallen into serious disrepair or stand vacant.

Although Joplin is not featured in this title, the Osage Hills and Prairies tour winds through Jasper County, beginning in Avilla and passing through Carthage and Jasper before moving on to nearby towns. Carthage’s Boots Motel, a decorative parapet made of “Carthage marble” that crowns a downtown building, and “A Victorian lady of a building” on Maple Street are among the sites photographed in Jasper County. Hart touches on the rich history of Carthage, including the infamous Belle Starr, the lawful Annie Baxter, the Civil War, and more.

Not only is Hart’s Historic Missouri Roadsides an entertainingly educational read for those interested in history and preservation, but its a fantastically fun resource for those who are interested in taking the drive through Missouri’s roadside heritage. To learn more about Missouri author Bill Hart or his recent publication, then visit his website or visit him during his book signing in the Post Art Library, 300 S Main St, Joplin, MO, on Saturday, September 19, 2015, from 4pm-6pm.

Carthage 13 Boots Edited

The photograph above shows the Boots Motel in Carthage, Missouri. It’s but one of numerous buildings depicted in Historic Missouri Roadsides. (Photograph courtesy of the author, Bill Hart.)

About the Author:
Bill Hart grew up in Perry County in southeast Missouri. His interest in small town and roadside Missouri was fostered by his work for the past several years with the Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation (Missouri Preservation), where he currently serves as executive director. He holds a degree in Historic Preservation from Southeast Missouri State University and did his graduate coursework in Architectural History at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. Bill is particularly interested in vanishing Missouri building types, including roadside and countryside. He was one of the founders of the Missouri Barn Alliance and Rural Network (Mo BARN), advocating for documentation and preservation of Missouri’s historic farmsteads.

Cher’s Fairyland

Once upon a time…. Cher Jiang is an artist from China, where she grew up in the countryside. As such, she didn’t have many friends. “Art was something I could play with. So I made art,” said Cher. Indeed Cher and art have become very good friends over the years. In China, she is known as one of the most popular illustrators for children’s books and her technique is referred to as “Cher’s Style.” Here in Missouri, she’s becoming increasingly known for her imaginative drawings and paintings. Residing in Carthage, Missouri, Cher continues to publish illustrations in China, as well as for Precious Moments. She also makes custom illustrations. Last week, I had the opportunity to meet with Cher to discuss her art, some of which is currently on exhibit through June at the Post Memorial Art Reference Library.

My comments/questions are in bold,
whereas Cher’s are not.

You’ve been illustrating for over ten years. What did you do before you became an illustrator?
I was a computer video game designer. I designed characters and made 3-D models on the computer and painted it. I like illustration better. I wish to be an international illustrator.

I see that you like to take photos and recreate the scene using animals. Why do you illustrate the people as animals?
Animals make it more beautiful and happy. I like to use the cute, nice animals.

You’ve created Cher’s Fairyland. Why do you like the fairytale style?
I like fairytale style because I want people to be happy. I turn life into a fairytale.

Could you tell me about your creative process?
I make the drawings and scan them on the computer to add color. Computer drawing is very popular in China. I wanted my unique style. I always draw in pencil first.

Where do you draw?
Everywhere! I’m uncomfortable when I’m not drawing. My husband drives, I draw in the car. I draw at dinner, on vacations. Once it’s done, I move on to the next one. I enjoy the process, but when I’m done I’m thinking of new things I can draw.

How do you add the color to the illustrations?
I use Photoshop to add color.

Why do you prefer to add color on a computer?
I like to do it on the computer because the colors are more vivid. Sometimes when you scan a painting the colors do not turn out.

But you also paint. Could you tell me about the paintings in this exhibit?
These are mixed media of acrylic, oil and Chinese watercolor.

Your art often brings together Eastern and Western elements.
Yes, my characters are more Western looking because I like [the diversity of] Western style. But my technique is more Eastern. I have one of the Phelps House [a local historically significant home] with water lilies. The water lilies are very Chinese.

The Phelps House is but one of many local/historical structures in your art. What are some others?
Fantastic Caverns, Silver Dollar City, the Neosho Fish Hatchery, Red Oak II and the Carthage Courthouse.

Most of your illustrations are published in China as magazine covers. And you’ve illustrated a Chinese children’s book. Have you illustrated any books in English?
I have illustrated one, but it’s not published yet.

How is your art viewed in China compared to here? Are the same pieces popular?
I think it’s viewed about the same. The tree house is the most popular.

Which is your favorite piece?
My favorite always is my next one!

Why art?
It’s a way to show others how I see the world.

To see the world from Cher’s enchanted perspective or to learn more about her Art Services, visit Cher’s Fairyland at & like her on Facebook at