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Book Review: Historic Missouri Roadsides by Bill Hart

This book review is a celebration of sorts of both the Missouri Bicentennial (2021) and National Preservation Month, also known as Historic Preservation Month (May). In Historic Missouri Roadsides, author, historian, and preservationist Bill Hart takes us on a two-lane highway trip through several of Missouri’s small-town destinations, introducing us to, or reacquainting us with, what they have to offer.

Before taking us on the road, Hart breaks down the “how to” of using his book, pointing out that how long each trip takes to complete is, in fact, up to the traveler. Each stop along two-lane Missouri includes basic historical information about the place, suggestions for where to eat and stay, as well as for where to visit and what to do. Hart reminds us that these trips are meant to be leisurely rather than a race from point A to point B: “Chill. You’re not traveling on two lanes to win any races […].”

These adventures are arranged neatly into six road trips: 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. Each tour begins with a summary about the trip and information about where, exactly, to start, and each town visited within a given tour clearly directs us to the next town. Although it is possible to reach some of these points using freeways, I recommend following Hart’s directions, as exploring what’s along our byways (rather than the sameness of our freeways) is the beauty of venturing out in the first place.

I feel a special kinship with this book as I start to travel about again. It’s a fantastic resource for those of us who wish to start by seeing what the places close to home have to show us. One of my favorite things about this title is that the largest city we’re guided through is St. Joseph, with a current population of about 73,400, give or take, whereas the smallest cities are only in the double digits.

Don’t get me wrong – I love visiting Kansas City, St. Louis, and other larger Missouri cities – but Missouri has much outside of those cities to show us. For example, a 1910 Beaux Arts-style post office in Nevada; the historic Hall of Waters in Excelsior Springs; a theatre in Blackwater, where productions written and directed by a local playwright are featured and locals serve free punch and cake during intermission; and landmark bluffs and other natural sites in tiny towns like Arrow Rock. We may even opt for additional “side trips” that take us into more remote areas of the State, such as Lithium, which, once upon a time, was a Victorian resort town.

Hart touches on the prehistory of Missouri, mentioning which Indian tribes traversed which areas before European American settlement, as well as tells the story of town names and sites that take their name from Native American and early European American history. He also makes mention of conservation areas, national register listings and districts, state parks and historic sites, persons of note, and more.

Not to mention the wonderful photographs, which enhance the stories of these lesser-known Missouri places. Check out the magnificent 1884 Second Empire Federal Courthouse on page 20, the picturesque view from the Fourche à Duclos Roadside Park on page 43, or the Old Dutch Hotel and Tavern’s neon sign in Washington on page 86.

It’s worth mentioning that two editions of this book are published and that the second edition is expanded to include “Destinations,” which are meant as stand-alone places to visit rather than a guided road trip. These destinations include St. Joseph, Glasgow, The Boonslick area, Fulton, Sedalia, and the Arcadia Valley.

As noted in his foreword, this book is “a travel book, a history book, a photography book, and more.” Indeed, it is all that and more. It is an opposition to what Hart describes as “Generica,” or the commodification of place and product. The fast-food chains and big-box stores found along our freeways and in our commercial districts, for example, all of which look the same regardless of locale. Hart encourages us to turn away from Generica for the uniqueness of “what lies right beneath [our] noses here in the Show-Me State.” Not only does he encourage us in this direction, but he literally tells us how to get there.

Happy trails and, as always, happy reading.

By Post Art Library Director Jill Sullivan

Art Exhibit: The ABCs of Folklore and Slang

The ABCs of Folklore and Slang, an exhibit featuring 26 linocuts by artist Deby Gilley, is open now through Sunday, May 30, 2021 in The Bramlage and Willcoxon Foundation Gallery inside Joplin Public Library .

Inspired by positive feedback about the titles she gives her works, this series is based on an alphabetical sequence of key letters of the words within the titles. Gilley created these works, which reflect an Ozark heritage, using the relief-printmaking process.

“I am hopeful that my chosen images and titles offers a new and refreshing experience to the use of the slang and familiar sayings. Some of the images are people and animals that I know very well,” said Gilley.

Her book, The ABCs of Folklore and Slang Told in 26 Linocuts, was released in 2020. For more information, contact Post Art Library director Jill Sullivan at 417-623-7953 x1041 or jhsullivan@postartlibrary.org.

 

Book Review: The Blue Tattoo: The Life of Olive Oatman by Margot Mifflin

Book Review by Post Art Library director Jill Sullivan

March is Women’s History Month. To celebrate, I encourage you to read a book written by – or, better yet, by and about – a woman. I started this year’s celebration by doing just that, with Margot Mifflin’s The Blue Tattoo: The Life of Olive Oatman. Admittedly, this wasn’t my first reading of this title, but my third.

Olive Oatman was born to parents who decided to settle in the American southwest as it was becoming the American southwest. Although much of the Mormonism that she was brought up with was left out of the many narratives about her life, Mifflin picks up Olive’s story at the point when it was, in fact, that very Mormonism that influenced the family’s move. Following the Brewsterite sect that broke away from Brigham Young, the Oatmans set west with others to what they thought would be a sanctuary and some sort of nation in and of itself, a nation within an expanding nation (both of which were destructive, to say the least, in their makings).

On their trek to California from Illinois, Olive’s father, Royce, broke the family away from the original Brewsterite caravan in what is now southwestern Arizona, quickly leading to the family’s demise. After an intense night “marooned on a tiny island surrounded by quicksand in the Gila River in Mexico,” the family encountered members of the Yavapai Indian tribe, who, after seemingly harmless initial contact, killed Royce, his wife Mary Ann, and four of their seven children. Lorenzo, who was all but dead after the attack, was thrown off a cliff and left to (presumably) die, while two of the daughters – Olive, 14, and a younger sister, Mary Ann – were taken by the Yavapai.

Olive and her younger sister spent about a year with the Yavapai Indians. According to Mifflin (and others), they were treated as captives, which is to say that they were treated poorly. The Mohave tribe, upon seeing the girls’ mistreatment, requested that they were traded to them. After negotiations, the girls were traded to the Mohaves, who accepted, raised, and treated them as their own. Olive spent about four years with the Mohaves; Mary Ann fewer only because she perished during a famine that they experienced.

Olive and Mary Ann were led to the beautifully described Mohave Valley by Topeka, who became their Mohave sister. Espaniole, a festival chief, and his wife, Aespaneo, became the girls’ Mohave parents. The bond that the girls, especially Olive, had with their Mohave family was strong. When Mary Ann died, both Olive and Aespaneo mourned in the traditional Mohave manner. The Mohaves gave Olive a nickname, which “confirms her acceptance within the culture; if she had been marginalized within the tribe, she would never had warranted one.” Some suspect, though never substantiated, that Olive married and had children while with the tribe.

It’s unknown whether Olive actually wanted to rejoin white society after her time with the Mohaves. It is known, however, that she had no choice but to do so once her whereabouts were discovered. The Mohave Indians were forced to return her to the whites “in exchange for horses, blankets, and beads.” Olive was upset during her so-called restoration to white society, which, as Mifflin points out, is an indication that she did not wish to return. Also, Olive never spoke ill of the Mohaves and, when the opportunity arose later in life, she went to greet and see a member of the tribe speak at an event.

I would be remiss if I did not mention Olive’s tattoo – the blue tattoo – not only because that is the book’s title, but because I am a visibly tattooed woman, though in another, vastly different, context. Nevertheless, I’m intrigued by Olive’s status as a tattooed woman, as well as interested in the history of women and tattoos, which, admittedly, is what prompted my initial reading of this book (and others by the same author).

Placed on her chin, Olive’s tattoo was a very public, permanent mark – in the 1850s – of her time with the Mohaves. Unlike some other tribes, the Mohaves did not tattoo their captives. Rather they tattooed only those who became a part of their tribe. Mifflin writes that Olive’s willingness to be tattooed indicates her willingness to become Mohave. Olive is the first known tattooed white woman in the United States, as well as the first known to profit from her tattoos. (In addition to her chin tattoo, she had vertical lines on her arms, though those were never shown publicly.) Olive’s narrative became so popular that tattooed ladies – women with real tattoos – started showing their skin in circuses and sideshows, stealing Olive’s story, distorting it and claiming it as their own, saying that they were captured and forcibly tattooed by Indians.

Olive was not like any other woman of her time. Upon her return to white culture, a man by name of Stratton wrote a (highly profitable) sensationalized account of her capture and she became a touring lecturer during a time in which it was highly unfavorable for women to work or have agency outside of the home. Eventually, Olive married a man named John B. Fairchild. In a letter to her aunt that the author includes and discusses in the postscript, it seems Olive’s marriage was a happy one. Eventually, Olive and her husband settled in Texas, where she died in 1903.

In her epilogue, Mifflin discusses Olive’s posthumous appearances. That is, her ongoing legacy in literature and television, connecting her to numerous novels and shows inspired by her story, as well as to those who tried to write themselves into her story. The author refers to this legacy as “Oatman’s Literary Half-Life” and notes, and seems disappointed, that not once in these fictional accounts is Olive reunited with her Mohave family. Indeed, it is disappointing that, even in fiction, Olive never makes her way back to the Mohaves.

I might mention that you will not find this book on the library’s shelves, but as an e-book via the library’s Ebsco eBook Collection database, which may be accessed with your library card on Joplin Public Library’s website or through their card catalog.

As always, happy reading.

Display: BOOKBINDING by Sullivan Book Arts

This display features the steps and tools of bookbinding as practiced by Sullivan Book Arts, a bindery based out of Pittsburg, Kansas.

Olive Sullivan is obsessed with books. She is a writer as well as a bookbinder and recently opened her own Little Free Library. Her poetry collection, Wandering Bone, was published in 2017 (Meadowlark Books, Emporia). She began bookbinding with Sharen May in 2011 and is now training her own apprentice, Angel Abshire, in this art.

Sullivan Book Arts specializes in restoration, custom bookbinding, art books, and more. For more information, visit them HERE.

Bookbinding is on display inside Joplin Public Library now through November 15, 2020.

Click HERE to see a news feature about Sullivan Book Arts’ Bookbinding.

Above: Bookbinding by Sullivan Book Arts
Above: Restoration In-progrss
Bookbinding by Sullivan Book Arts

Exhibit: PLACES I HAVE BEEN by Paula Giltner

We’ve resumed art exhibits in the library!

Now through November 30, 2020 Paula Giltner’s Places I Have Been is on exhibit in The Bramlage and Willcoxon Foundation Gallery and the Local History Room inside Joplin Public Library.

Places I Have Been features watercolor and oil paintings that take viewers to Colorado, Wyoming, California, and several Missouri locations, including Joplin.

Giltner is an award-winning artist who is part of Local Color Art Gallery in Joplin, Missouri. For more information, visit HERE. Click HERE for a news feature about this exhibit.

Artist’s Statement

If only I could show paintings of all the places I have been! Although I’m someone who has had very few dreams of traveling, my life events have taken me all over the globe. I have been to 48 states in the US and to 9 foreign countries.

Watercolor was the first medium to challenge me artistically. Eventually I experimented with acrylic and finally oil. What’s my favorite? That’s like choosing between steak and lobster. It’s all good, but in different ways.

I find that local people enjoy seeing paintings of familiar places around the four states. I love to paint the landscape in all seasons along with the wildlife, domestic life and architecture. I think the world is a beautiful place and there’s no place like home.

Paula Giltner | jnpgiltner@hotmail.com

Above: “Colorado Waterfall” by Paula Giltner
Above: “California 1” by Paula Giltner
Above: Places I Have Been Exhibition
The Bramlage and Willcoxon Foundation Gallery | Joplin Public Library

Paper-Mache Earring Workshop

We’re glad to partner with local artist Kristin Girard of Kristin’s Laboratory to offer a FREE Paper-Mache Earring Workshop–and just in time for Valentine’s Day!

During this hands-on workshop participants will learn the basics of paper-mache bead making with Jill Sullivan of Post Art Library and the basics of earring making with Kristin Girard of Kristin’s Laboratory.

After getting messy with paper, glue, and paint, participants will create a complete pair of paper-mache earrings to take home along with any other paper-mache beads they make during the program.

This is a FREE workshop, though space is limited and registration is necessary. Registration is open to the public, ages 16+, and spots are filled on a first come, first serve basis. Library card NOT needed. To register, call Jill Sullivan at 417-623-7953 x1041.

GRIND by Brett Dorrance

Brett Dorrance’s GRIND is comprised of a typographic sculpture and posters. Dorrance’s background knowledge of graphic design and 3D design is displayed in a pragmatic, modern, and uplifting way. He has a large interest in motivational messages and helping others from the bottom to the top. His desire is for the viewer to walk away with a sense of encouragement.

“We all go through a daily GRIND no matter what the circumstances are. I want that daily GRIND to be applied in a way that brings success and hope, not destruction or failure,” said Dorrance.

GRIND is on exhibit in The Bramlage and Willcoxon Foundation Gallery inside Joplin Public Library, 1901 East 20th Street, Joplin, MO now through January 5, 2019. An artist’s reception will be held in the gallery on Thursday, October 24, 2019 from 6-7:30pm. 

For more information, contact Jill Sullivan at 417-623-7953 x1041.

Photography by Maxwell Heckman

Maxwell Heckman’s photography show juxtaposes two of his series: M.A.D: Mutually Assured Destruction, a black and white series which opposes nuclear war and weapons, and Morning in Joplin, a color landscape series.

In his application to show artwork in the library, Maxwell Heckman described himself as “a young, somewhat inexperienced photographer.” He went on to say his philosophy is artists must enjoy their work, be proud of their failures, and, above all, keep going.

In his practice, he wakes at 5am and walks about with his camera, taking photos, whether it’s 5 degrees or 106, rain or shine, good or poor lighting, etc. He keeps going, shooting as many frames as he can, enjoying the process.

Rather than viewing his artwork as good or bad – “peeks or valleys” – he sees it as a vehicle for improvement, as “always having the opportunity to get better.” That, he says, is why he’s an artist.

When working with Maxwell to determine which of his work to show in the library, I became intrigued with juxtaposing his gas mask series and landscapes. The stark contrast between the black and white gas mask photographs and the saturated color landscapes demonstrates Maxwell’s aptitude for exploring his medium while eliciting an indescribable connection between the two series.

Indeed, he might be young and somewhat inexperienced, but his work is experimental and promising.

Heckman’s photography is on display in the Genealogy, Local History, and Post Reading Room wing inside Joplin Public Library now through November 30th.

Lydia Humphreys’ New Portrait Series

A few weeks ago, local artist Lydia Humphreys popped into PAL and asked if she could take a photo of me to paint my portrait for a series that she’s currently working on. Between blushing and laughing as she snapped the photo, I managed to ask her a couple of questions about the series, which she’s been releasing via social media. Perhaps what intrigues me most is that she paints each portrait in the color that she sees the person. Not their auras, necessarily, but the colors that she associates with that person. Last week, I had the fortune of meeting with Lydia to further discuss her art and this portrait series in particular.

Jill: Could you tell me a little about your background? Are you from Joplin? How long have you been involved in Joplin Arts?
Lydia: I’m from Joplin, but I’ve been involved in Joplin Arts for about two years, since I started college at MSSU. Although I’ve always drawn, painted, and taken lots of art classes, I didn’t want to do art. I wanted to become a physical therapist and work with kids with disabilities.

What changed that?
I did an internship in St. Louis and art was all around. Living in a bigger city you catch on to trends more, see the arts more, and art is everywhere. Being there helped me realize that art was a possibility, that I could do it my own way, that it was something that was attainable. I started making art in St. Louis.

Why do you do what you do? Why art?
My brain works better with art. It’s easier for me to communicate through art. I can express things that I don’t know how to verbalize.

What if what you’re trying to communicate is viewed differently by the viewer?
If the person doesn’t see what I’m going for, then I’m either not communicating it right or they aren’t the right person for it.

How do you work? Meaning do you have rituals or routine?
I always have headphones on to tune everything else out because I work mostly at school. I work alone, mostly, but sometimes with one friend.

What are some of your favorite mediums?
Mixed media, installations, everything. I’m intrigued by big installations. I did one and it was exhaustingly fun.

In addition to making art, you’ve curated exhibits. What appeals to you about curating the art of others?
I like making a space pristine with art. Something about walking into an area to see the art and not being there for anything else.

What generally inspires your work?
Right now, it’s varied. …I’m upset with issues that are interpreted wrong, like the emotions and actions of others. So I want to destigmatize. For example, I did a series about depression and anxiety.

I’d like to talk about this portrait series that you’re working on. Why depictions of people?
People make up the community. It all feels like family and I love community. It’s another way to support the community. And the act of making the art breaks the ice, helps me to get to know the individual better. I’m inspired by spending so much time with the faces, getting to know a certain type of beauty that’s often initially dismissed.

You’re painting these faces in the color that you see the person. You said not their auras, but the color that you associate with them. Could you discuss this a little more?
I assign certain colors and patterns to things so that I remember them. It’s the same for people. I’ll remember a face and a color that I’ve assigned to that face better than a name. But none of the colors have particular meanings to me. I don’t know why certain colors, it’s just what happens. It’s not always personality based. Sometimes I see the same color for someone who I like and for someone who I dislike.

Does the color come to you more easily for some people than others?
Yes. Sometimes I start one color and change to another color. I might assume a certain color, but when I go to mix it I realize it’s a different shade, hue, or value. Or more than one color. Sometimes the background is another color I associate with that person.

How have those depicted reacted to the paintings? Has anyone been surprised or disappointed about their color?
Generally, people are excited to be painted. One person did think the color I chose was weird, but others agree.

Do you know how many portraits you will paint for this series?
I don’t have a certain number in mind. The project needs to evolve somehow. I like the idea of a large amount of portraits. I want to do a lot.

I have one more question. Do you have a certain color that you associate with yourself?
Pink. Vibrant pink.

At the time of this interview (2/2/2017), there were 14 portraits in Lydia’s series, four of which are shown here. You can follow Lydia and her artwork on Facebook (Lydia Humphreys) or Instagram (lydia_humphreys).

The Scoop: Coloring Book Club

In October 2015, Connect2Culture, Post Art Library, and Spiva Center for the Arts launched Coloring Book Club (CBC), with plans to meet every other month, alternating between the library and Spiva, for one year. Our goal was to offer adults a well-deserved “brain break” without expectations while promoting mindfulness and self-expression, reducing anxiety, and strengthening community. Now that we’ve met that goal, we’ve considered feedback from CBC-goers and reassessed to determine the best way to move forward.

Although Connect2Culture and Post Art Library had a wonderful time helping to launch this fantastic club, Spiva is taking the lead. Starting in January 2017, ALL Coloring Book Club meets will be held monthly at Spiva Center for the Arts on the second Saturday of each month, 10:30am-noon. We believe that participants will have a better experience with monthly meetings at a consistent location. Plus, this location eliminates the need to register for meets–simply show up and color!

If you have any questions about Coloring Book Club, then please contact Spiva Center for the Arts at 417-623-0183 or visit their website at www.SpivaArts.org.

Thanks for the great year and color on!

coloring-book-club-2