“I would say MARK YOUR CALENDAR! We did last year and this is what we saw and what we accomplished” – David Salerno
Traveling to Missouri for the 23rd NOAPS Best of America 2013 Exhibition
On October 12, my wife Leah and I attended the opening night reception and Awards Banquet for the 23rd Annual National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society (NOAPS) Best of America 2013 Exhibition, at the Dunnegan Gallery of Art in Bolivar, Missouri. We live in Chattanooga, Tennessee, more than 600 miles east. This was the first time one of my paintings was chosen for a national exhibition, so deciding to make the trip was easy. We decided to drive and make a vacation of it, but of course I brought my painting gear along! The organizers of the NOAPS exhibition certainly made our trip worthwhile.
The trip out was pleasant, and the early fall weather was great. Bolivar is a peaceful, clean, friendly small town in mid-Missouri. The surprise was the elegant, spacious gallery. The Dunnegan Gallery has an outstanding permanent collection and a large exhibition space. The 110 paintings selected for the show were nicely accommodated in the exhibition theater.
What a show it was! The work was consistently outstanding. I was honored to have a painting in such a collection. But the evening was made memorable by the gallery staff members, the artists who traveled to the show, the leaders and organizers of NOAPS who attended, and the guests who came from around the region. After an hour of admiring the paintings and meeting as many of these people as we could, we sat down to a delicious dinner in the exhibition hall. After dinner, Phil Starke, the judge for the exhibit, carefully explained his general approach to judging art work. Then he thoroughly discussed the attributes of each of the paintings that he had chosen for awards. Not only did I learn from his presentation, but he explained his choices in terms that all the guests could understand, including those who were not artists themselves. After dinner and his presentation, he generously and politely critiqued the paintings of the artists who attended. What a great help he was for me!
The exhibition stayed at the Dunnegan Gallery of Art until November 2, 2013, when it moved to the Vine Wine and Art Gallery in Osage Beach, Missouri until November 20. Phil Starke hosted a painting workshop in the days following the reception, but Leah and I had already made plans to visit Osage Beach for a couple of days. (I was curious to see the gallery where the paintings would be moving to.) On the morning we were leaving Bolivar, we happened to find JoeRay Kelley (NOAPS Executive Director) and Hebe Brooks (NOAPS Publicity Director) at breakfast at our hotel. Both are successful artists whom we had met the night before. At the reception, Leah and I had been very impressed by Hebe’s and JoeRay’s warm friendliness, and our second encounter confirmed our impression.
After breakfast it was on to Lake of the Ozarks, a beautiful area about 90 miles northeast of Bolivar. We had dinner at the Vine Wine and Art Gallery, which has an excellent restaurant in addition to its outstanding collection of artwork from the area, which it rotates frequently. Coincidentally, at the Vine Gallery, we saw the 2013 President of NOAPS, Bob Silverson, whom we had also met in Bolivar at the reception. Although he was busy making some final arrangements for transporting the exhibition from the Dunnegan to the Vine, like all the NOAPS leadership, he took the time to chat with us. Bob is another talented artist, with several of his impressive paintings hanging at the Vine Gallery.
As an added bonus, we met Joseph Orr and his wife Rita, both outstanding artists who have their home and studio just down the street from the Vine. Mr. Orr, an acrylic landscape painter, was one of the founders of NOAPS. He and Mrs. Orr were very generous, taking time to chat with us in their wonderful studio.
We hiked at the large and beautiful Lake of the Ozarks State Park, where I was able to get in a plein aire painting of the lake. The next day was stormy, but I found a sheltered area to get another painting done of the lake. Being mid-October, most of the boating was done for the year and the boat slips were empty, with the stormy sky signaling the end of the season.
Later that day we visited Bill Wood, the 2013 Vice President of NOAPS, at his gallery. Another excellent artist, he works on his paintings in between customers, where he also has art supplies for sale and holds art classes.
As if all that wasn’t enough, there are several excellent wineries around the lake. We managed to enjoy two of them, Seven Springs and Casa de Loco (located on a hill with a gorgeous view of a tributary of the lake and surrounding hillside farmland).
After two days in the lake area we headed eastward toward Louisville, for the wedding of our friends’ daughter. We stopped along the border of Illinois and Indiana to see Beall Woods State Park, where we hiked in one of the few remaining virgin uncut forests in the Eastern US. The park is on the Illinois bank of the Wabash River. We caught the late-afternoon light looking east across the river to the Indiana side, where I was able to get a small painting done.
On to Louisville, Kentucky, which is a great city located along the Ohio River. Although we spent most of our time with our friends, I did manage to get a little painting done of the elegant old Louisville City Hall.
It was a wonderful trip. Leah and I were both surprised by the rural beauty of Missouri. The people that we met were very warm and interesting. I am motivated to work hard to get another painting into future NOAPS shows, so that we can go back!! I would encourage NOAPS members to take the time to make the trip to this jewel in the mid-west.
What David says:
“I love oil paint – its texture, its luster, and the sweet smell of linseed oil. I enjoy making plein air paintings. I try to preserve the freshness of my outdoor work by painting alla prima in the studio.”
And, see NOAPS Events displaying on the right side of this article!