The hunt for October art: 10 area artists step up to fill open slot on Liberty Center’s calendar

October 3, 2012

The Liberty Center’s Loft Gallery was scheduled to collect dust in October, and many artists’ unsold work was collecting dust in their homes. Sedalia artist Dustin M. Schmidt solved both of those problems by organizing “The October Show,” which will open with a Friday reception.

“I told everybody to bring what they had, and I wanted it to be a big show,” Schmidt said. “And a lot of these guys, they have a lot of work sitting around the house, because if it doesn’t sell, you hang onto it or donate it. I wanted people to get motivated and excited and do more of these shows.”

The exhibit isn’t a reaction against the established Sedalia Visual Art Association, which is currently exhibiting at the Katy Depot. Rather, Schmidt made sure every artist in “The October Show” signed up for the SVAA.

“That was one of my requirements — that they join the SVAA,” Schmidt said. “But yeah, it’s just a group of friends. (Liberty Center president) Madge Gressley had told me October was unbooked, and I asked her on a whim, ‘Can I put together a group show?’ and she said yeah. I shot a message out on Facebook. There was not a theme to the exhibit other than just a circle of friends — the first 10 to respond.”

The exhibit features 64 pieces by 10 artists, most of whom are from Sedalia or the area. It’s an up-and-coming batch of artists: All are in their 20s or 30s, and only a few of them — Schmidt, Damon Freed and Billy Welch — have done solo exhibits.

“This is definitely a generation that’s been inspired by the Daum Museum,” Schmidt said of the renowned decade-old gallery at State Fair Community College. “As everyone’s going through school here, they see the Daum regularly instead of waiting for a field trip. I think that’s caused a burst of interest in the visual arts.”

“The October Show” features some experimental styles. One of University of Central Missouri student Dustin R. Mothersbaugh’s more straightforward paintings features a man planting a flag on Mars, but others are three-dimensional.

“The Martian landscape — I thought that was great, especially due to current events,” Schmidt said. “(The 3-D pieces) are done with cardboard. I think the back is acrylic, then latex paint and cardboard is used to layer it up. I haven’t seen that style anywhere else.”

Another unusual approach comes from Josh Martin, a “MO 50” exhibitor at this year’s Missouri State Fair, who blends a standard canvas with stuffed fabric attached to the sides.

“I think he’s also pushing new media with that,” Schmidt said.

At the other end of the spectrum, some of Dane Stilfield’s pieces are planks of plywood with smooth, pastel-painted blocks of wood attached to them.

“It’s certainly minimalist,” Schmidt said.

Stilfield is also exhibiting industrial-style sculptures featuring metal tubes and rubber cords like one might find in an automotive shop.

Schmidt — who had to turn away artists from “The October Show” due to space — plans to organize more group exhibits in the future.

“Sure, everyone wants to sell, but you need the feedback to grow and develop better work,” Schmidt said. “You gotta take the criticism and not clam up and be shy about talking about your work. That’s what we’re doing here — getting people’s work out there. So yeah, we’re gonna keep doing it as long as there are artists and a venue.”

“The October Show” lineup is rounded out by Anthony Mitchell II, Jenny Ragland, Phillip C. Tindell, Nathan Naylor and Todd Kriesel. Schmidt said about 80 percent of the work will be for sale.


WHAT: “The October Show”

WHEN: Reception 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday; exhibit open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Tuesdays through Fridays through October

WHERE: Liberty Center Loft Gallery, 111 W. Fifth St., Sedalia

PHONE: 827-3228