The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

January 7, 2013

Joplin arts committee seeks mural proposals

By Debby Woodin

JOPLIN, Mo. — The Cultural Affairs Committee of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce has put out a call for proposals from artists to create the next mural in the Art in Public Places program.

This will be the third mural to be provided to a public place by the private- and grant-funded effort. One of those projects is a mural of downtown Joplin by Anthony Benton Gude, grandson of Thomas Hart Benton. The Gude mural hangs next to Benton’s mural at City Hall. The other project is “Butterfly Effect: Dreams Take Flight,” a mural that is on a building wall at 15th and Main streets. It was led by artist Dave Loewenstein with participation by children in the community after Joplin’s 2011 tornado.

Members of the committee envision a different look for a third mural.

Nancy Morton, co-chairwoman of the committee, said in a statement that the committee voted for a different technique than that used in the other murals, this time opting for a trompe l’oeil, or 3D, effect. “The committee decided that this departure would help introduce the community and visitors to a new artistic design and hopefully spark conversation over the value this particular style of art brings to murals,” she said.

Co-chairwoman Becky Brill said the subject of the mural should involve Joplin’s performing arts centers of the past. A new performing arts center is proposed to be built downtown as one of projects to be undertaken by a master development firm the city has hired in the wake of the 2011 tornado.

In Joplin’s early years, two theaters brought national celebrities and shows to town.

The Club Theatre was built in 1891 in the 400 block of Joplin Avenue by investors who made fortunes early in Joplin’s history; they included Charles Schifferdecker, Thomas Cunningham and John Wise. That theater seated 1,400 and brought top-name entertainers, including John Philip Sousa and Eddie Cantor, to Joplin, as well as performances of Viennese and Italian operas and minstrel shows.

The Club became the home to vaudeville and other second-tier entertainment after a larger performance hall, the Shubert Theater, was built in 1908. Located in the 700 block between Joplin and Wall avenues, where the current Memorial Hall parking lot is located, the Shubert brought the latest in stage shows and concerts to Joplin for 20 years. Its 1,520 seats were filled for appearances by stars of the day such as John and Ethel Barrymore and Will Rogers. It was where the nation’s first blockbuster movie, “The Birth of a Nation,” was screened in Joplin.

The Club burned in 1918, and the Shubert was abandoned for years before it was razed in 1940.

The mural depicting Joplin’s cultural history is to be painted in the 700 block of Main Street.

The request for proposals can be found on the chamber’s website at or its Facebook page, or a copy may be obtained by calling Cary Beasley at the chamber, 624-4150.


DANCING WITH THE JOPLIN STARS, an event to be staged by the chamber to underwrite the mural effort, is scheduled for March 30 at Downstream Casino Resort.