Annual art contest named for Benton opens for entries

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Aug. 5—NEOSHO, Mo. — An annual art contest named for a native son has opened up for entries.

The Neosho Arts Council on Thursday announced submission deadlines and show dates for the 27th annual Thomas Hart Benton Art Competition and Exhibition.

Artists can compete in one of two divisions — emerging and professional — for a chance to win cash prizes, including a $500 award for best in show. The two divisions give pathways for more experienced artists, and for beginners to try out competition.

The contest is open for 2D works such as painting, printmaking, drawing, pastels and mixed media, but not photography, giclees or digital works, said Sarah Serio, president of the council. The intent, she said, is for artists to create the sorts of works Benton would have created.

Benton's work and flowing style became famous for its everyday subjects and depictions of common people doing common things while revealing the hardships they endure. His works included people in farms, factories and cities.

"His work was very representational of a specific period of time, when regionalism was important to the U.S.," Serio said. "He showed what was happening. He was famous for being a witness to flooding, and for bringing awareness to people's plights."

Kimi Kitada, an arts educator and curator currently based in Kansas City, will be the show's judge. During an awards program Sept. 22, she will speak about the qualities of the prize-winning works.

Serio said Kitada has a diverse experience of working in respected art communities across the country, including as a curatorial fellow at the Charlotte Street Foundation in Kansas City, and is knowledgeable about artistic techniques and media.

"All those experiences give her a wide view of art styles, which is what you need to know in a show of so many media," Serio said. "A judge needs knowledge of each of those to know what goes into the creation of a work, so they can see the technique and know how many hours the artists put in, instead of judging only subject matter."

The show will be on display during September and October at the Big Spring Gallery, located inside the Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce, 216 W. Spring St.

Entries are due by Aug. 23, and may be submitted at