|Artists community grows in Mark Twain's hometown of 18,000 near the Mississippi River|
Artist Steve Ayers in his shop in Hannibal, Mo. When Ayers opened his pottery shop in 1985 he was about the only artist in the riverfront town known mostly for its favorite son, Mark Twain. Twain still is the main draw for the half-million tourists who visit Hannibal each year, but now they get a bonus: A growing number of artists, many of national and international repute. AP Photo/The Courier-Post, Mary Lou Montgomery.
By: Jim Salter, Associated Press
HANNIBAL, MO (AP).- Nancy Lee Kaufman was prominent in the arts scene in chic Santa Fe, N.M., and later made her woven art along the ocean near San Diego. So how did she end up living in a previously condemned house near the railroad tracks in small-town Missouri? The short answer: By choice.
Other artists began telling Kaufman about the burgeoning arts community in Hannibal, a Mississippi River town of 18,000 known mostly for favorite son Mark Twain. When she visited in 2005 she happened upon a once-gorgeous old downtown home overlooking the Mississippi River, an early 19th century building in such disrepair that demolition was weeks away.
The inside was a mess of crumbling boards and piled up debris. But, oh, that view from the window.
"I looked out and there were icebergs floating down the river, the sun shining off of them, eagles flying overhead," Kaufman, 64, said. "That was it."
Twain still is the main attraction for the half-million tourists who visit Hannibal each year, but now they get a bonus: A growing number of artists, many of national and international repute.
"The downtown storefronts are filling up with artists," said Gail Bryant, director of the Hannibal Convention and Visitors Bureau. "That's certainly part of the draw."
During the past decade dozens of artists ranging from painters to potters, weavers to photographers have come to Hannibal, attracted to the breathtaking river scenery, the charming if often dilapidated old homes, a welcoming community and a ready-made base of visitors. It also helps that Hannibal, smack-dab in the middle of the nation, is within a day's drive of countless art shows and fairs crucial for making ends meet.
It hasn't always been this way. When Steve Ayers opened his pottery shop in 1985 he was about the only artist in town. Admittedly "lonesome," he began reaching out to others.
Then, about 10 years ago, Hannibal and two other northeast Missouri towns Louisiana and Clarksville worked together to form what they called a 50-mile corridor of arts, even getting banks to commit to low-interest loans to help attract artists and craftsmen.
The project is no longer active, but the influx began. Some say the artists are creating a new vibe in the 177-year-old community.
"It's amazing how alive this little street really is," Ayers said as he glanced out along Main Street, where a young bearded man strummed a guitar on a recent warm day. At another corner, people sat in sidewalk chairs solving the world's problems.
"There's very much a growing bohemian feel," Ayers said.
Joachim Knill, originally from Switzerland, was living out of his van when he heard about Hannibal and moved to town about a decade ago. Knill sculpts, paints and makes three-dimensional art using Polaroid photographs and has won first place or best of show awards at dozens of shows, including the Detroit Festival of the Arts, Uptown Art Fair in Minneapolis, Utah Art Festival in Salt Lake City, and the Plaza Art Fair in Kansas City, Mo. He purchased a large downtown house and even bought the old city jail, with plans to make it into a studio.
Painter Melissa Dominiak and her then-husband, photographer Michael Cole, were living in Seattle when they decided to move to Hannibal six years ago to be closer to art shows and because of its affordability. She finds inspiration in the century-old brick church they bought and rehabbed for a fraction of the cost of a similar fixer-upper in most parts of the country.
"Actually, less than a fraction," Dominiak said.
Kaufman grew up in St. Louis. She developed a passion for weaving decades ago after buying an old loom at an auction. She eventually relocated to Santa Fe and became a prominent artist there, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Georgia O'Keefe. Her family relocated to southern California, and her reputation grew.
She began hearing from other artists about Hannibal but was skeptical. Her only previous visit was to the Twain sites as a 6-year-old. Still, she decided to give it a look.
"The thought of a quaint little shop in a little town intrigued me," Kaufman said.
She bought a historic Main Street building for her shop, then heard about the house along the river, one of the oldest in town, and showing its age. When she went to City Hall to finish paperwork on the purchase she was told the city had been ready to take bids for demolition.
Ayers said artists have invested $3.5 million in real estate purchases during the past decade, including many purchases that saved historic buildings, based on real estate records he has examined.
They're also giving Hannibal a strong reputation in the arts community, earning national recognition for their work. The Cherry Creek Arts Festival in Denver July 6-8, considered one of the best in the U.S., received applications from 2,100 artists. Only 236 exhibitors were chosen. Seven of them were from Hannibal, including Knill, Dominiak and Cole.
Many of the artists also will be among the 60 or so who display their work Saturday and Sunday in the first-ever Hannibal Downtown Art Fair, on Main Street.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.
June 11, 2012
Exhibition of over sixty marble statues and preparatory studies by Rodin opens in Paris
Watch Your Step: A group exhibition of floor works on view at The FLAG Art Foundation
Rare Napoleon Bonaparte letter exhibiting English skills sells at auction for $405,000
The Vanity of Small Differences: Victoria Miro's fourth solo exhibition with Grayson Perry opens
Bonhams to offer Tiffany Studio highlights as part of the June 20th Century Decorative Arts Auction
"Tomas Erhart: Deconstructive Nudes" opens at Inner Circle Consultants in Hamburg
Jerusalem Mayor, Nir Barkat confers title of Honorary Citizen of Jerusalem on Israel Museum Director, James Snyder
Sale of colorful Lalique vases at Bonhams includes one of his rarest designs
50 years later, Seattle Center continues to evolve; from a zip line to a new art glass museum
1879 Flowing Hair Stella brings $184,000 to lead Heritage Auctions sale
Artists community grows in Mark Twain's hometown of 18,000 near the Mississippi River
One hundred years after the introduction of the Oreo, plans for historic NYC home drawing fire
Asian art dealers Duchange & Riché open first gallery in the United Kingdom at Grays
Riflemaker presents exhibition of new photographs by Leah Gordon
One of the oldest military flags, the Dettingen Standrard, to be offered in sale of arms and armour
Los Angeles' Getty Museum illustrates death in Middle Ages
Les Paul guitar auction fetches nearly $5M
Detroit museum to host Navy's War of 1812 display
Most Popular Last Seven Days
1.- Mexican archaeologists study cave paintings found in the northeast part of Argentina
2.- Exhibition of nude photography around 1900 on view at Berlin's Photography Museum
3.- Top of the bill: Giant rubber duck by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman sails into Hong Kong
4.- Researchers say first permanent English settlers in America resorted to cannibalism
5.- Russia's great museums feud over revival plan of Moscow museum of Western art
6.- Dartmouth's Hood Museum appoints first African Art Curator
7.- Survey exhibition of American artist Ellen Gallagher's work opens at Tate Modern
8.- Exhibition of nude photography around 1900 on view at Berlin's Photography Museum
9.- Paris Photo Los Angeles concludes a successful first edition with over 13,500 visitors
10.- Excavation unearths evidence of Thessaloniki's urban life between 4th and 9th centuries AD
Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .
|Royalville Communications, Inc|