Missouri artists recognized in Missouri State Fair’s Top 50 show


By Nicole Cooke - [email protected]



Donita Kniffen takes a photo of her husband, Grant Kniffen, both of Dardenne Prairie, standing next to his award-winning artwork in the Missouri Top 50 show in the Fine Arts Building on the Missouri State Fairgrounds on Wednesday evening. Kniffen, a retired art teacher, created “Among the trees,” an acrylic painting.


Ted Denton, of Marshall, stands next to his piece, “EFC #41,” that won an award in the Missouri Top 50 show at the Missouri State Fair. The non-representational piece is made of Masonite, wood pieces and paint.


Missouri Top 50 Juror Carol Carter, a watercolor artist from St. Louis, addresses the audience gathered at the opening of the show Wednesday evening. Carter selected the 50 pieces from works entered by 89 artists, then chose the awards from the top 50 pieces.


Dan Rackley, of Columbia, takes a look at “Sleep,” a sculpture by Steve Gorman, at the Missouri Top 50 show opening Wednesday evening in the Fine Arts Building on the Missouri State Fairgrounds. Rackley attended the show to support his wife, Marcia Jeanne Rackley, who’s soft pastel painting, “Chance Gardens Koi,” was in the Top 50 and is pictured just behind him.


Gary Cadwallader, left, shakes hands with Daum Museum of Contemporary Art Director/Curator Tom Piche as he receives the State Fair Community College Purchase Award for his acrylic painting, “Refuge,” which had already won an award in the Missouri Top 50. Piche said SFCC President Joanna Anderson was so “taken” with the piece that she wants the painting’s rotation on the campus to begin in her office.


Hope Heimsoth, of Versailles, left, and Marilyn Heimsoth, of Cole Camp, look at a porcelain piece by Yukari Kashihara titled “Meadow” during the Missouri Top 50 show opening Wednesday evening. Hope said she was there to support her grandpa, Neil Heimsoth, of Cole Camp, who had a painting of her in the Top 50. The oil painting is titled “Hope.”


As is tradition for the Missouri State Fair, the Missouri Top 50 kicked off the annual event Wednesday evening, honoring the best artists in the Show-Me State.

Fine Arts Superintendent Alan Weaver said 89 artists entered the Top 50 show this year, with many entering two works. “If it’s not up here, the artists can enter in the open professional division without another fee,” Weaver explained. “It’s good because a lot of good work that’s not up here winds up downstairs (in the Fine Arts Building in the open division displays).”

The entries were narrowed down to 50 by Juror Carol Carter, a watercolor artist from St. Louis, who then chose the winning pieces within the Top 50. The result was a varied and beautiful collection of pieces, ranging in size, color, style and technique. Weaver said Carter took her time when deciding which pieces would receive an award.

“I was surprised and overwhelmed at the amount of choices that came to me to review to pick 50 works for this exhibition. It was really hard,” she said. “There’s a lot of gorgeous imagery and execution, a lot of thoughtfulness. There’s a lot of genuine, heartfelt application of your craft and that should be thoroughly appreciated and observed in each work of art you see.”

Grant Kniffen, of Dardenne Prairie, has entered the Top 50 four times before, and 2016 marked his second year to see a ribbon hanging next to his piece. This year he won was a Second Premium recipient for his acrylic painting, “Among the Trees.” According to the artist’s statement accompanying the piece, it “portrays two deer amid the trees and shadows of the woods. While the subject matter is important, so are the abstract concerns that make up composition.”

A retired art teacher from Parkway North High School, Kniffen said he typically creates western or music scenes, but applies his style to different American subject matters.

“It was a concept I had to use deer. I began experimenting with multiple perspectives,” he explained. “If you look, there are a lot of different views that in reality couldn’t happen. You could say it’s cubist in style, influence by it. I try to take subject matters and compose them differently.”

He added that he struggled with the patterns painted in between the deer, repainting them five or six times.

“I came up with an abstract to fill the space and it seems to work,” he said. “Sometimes with art you have to let it sit and vegetate for a little while and that’s what happened here.”

Ted Denton, of Marshall, has also entered the Top 50 before and was included again with his piece, “EFC #41.” He said he’s always glad to be included, as “there is great competition here.”

He said his award-winning, non-representational piece is made from Masonite and wood pieces.

“Several pieces are leftover from other projects and I wanted to incorporate them into a smaller piece,” he said. My work is like improv. I played with it for two hours, manipulating the pieces until I found something I was happy with. Then I primed it white, and then the tricky part was deciding which colors.”

Weaver has continued to grow the Top 50 show during his tenure as superintendent, with 89 artists entering this year compared to 69 in 2015 and 61 in 2014.

“I’m trying to build it up, I’m talking to universities,” he explained. “The rules used to say the work could not be done under instruction, which I’m not really sure what that means, I think it meant college artists; that’s exactly who I want. The only requirement is you must be 18 and live in Missouri.”

Weaver taught a ceramics class this summer at the University of Central Missouri and encouraged his students to enter. His three advanced students took his advice and it paid off — all three were included in the Top 50.

Other award winners included Gary Cadwallader’s acrylic “Refuge,” Maria Ogendengbe’s photograph “Painting Contest: MO Real,” and Shawn Hunsaker’s oil painting, “Adelynn.” Other second premium recipients included Maggie Wheelock’s acrylic and ultra-fine glitter on board, “Glittering Grackle,” Sylvia Mooney’s watercolor “Daffodils,” and Steve Gorman’s “Sleep” sculpture.

Cadwallader also received the State Fair Community College Purchase Award, which is chosen by Daum Museum of Contemporary Art Director/Curator Tom Piche and SFCC President Dr. Joanna Anderson. His piece has been purchased by the college and will be displayed on one of its campuses. Piche said Anderson was “so taken” with the piece she has requested it start its rotation in her office. Cadwallader will be an artist-in-residence in the Fine Arts Building during several days of the Fair.

Donita Kniffen takes a photo of her husband, Grant Kniffen, both of Dardenne Prairie, standing next to his award-winning artwork in the Missouri Top 50 show in the Fine Arts Building on the Missouri State Fairgrounds on Wednesday evening. Kniffen, a retired art teacher, created “Among the trees,” an acrylic painting.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/web1_TSD081116Top50-1-2.jpgDonita Kniffen takes a photo of her husband, Grant Kniffen, both of Dardenne Prairie, standing next to his award-winning artwork in the Missouri Top 50 show in the Fine Arts Building on the Missouri State Fairgrounds on Wednesday evening. Kniffen, a retired art teacher, created “Among the trees,” an acrylic painting.

Ted Denton, of Marshall, stands next to his piece, “EFC #41,” that won an award in the Missouri Top 50 show at the Missouri State Fair. The non-representational piece is made of Masonite, wood pieces and paint.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/web1_TSD081116Top50-2-2.jpgTed Denton, of Marshall, stands next to his piece, “EFC #41,” that won an award in the Missouri Top 50 show at the Missouri State Fair. The non-representational piece is made of Masonite, wood pieces and paint.

Missouri Top 50 Juror Carol Carter, a watercolor artist from St. Louis, addresses the audience gathered at the opening of the show Wednesday evening. Carter selected the 50 pieces from works entered by 89 artists, then chose the awards from the top 50 pieces.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/web1_TSD081116Top50-3-2.jpgMissouri Top 50 Juror Carol Carter, a watercolor artist from St. Louis, addresses the audience gathered at the opening of the show Wednesday evening. Carter selected the 50 pieces from works entered by 89 artists, then chose the awards from the top 50 pieces.

Dan Rackley, of Columbia, takes a look at “Sleep,” a sculpture by Steve Gorman, at the Missouri Top 50 show opening Wednesday evening in the Fine Arts Building on the Missouri State Fairgrounds. Rackley attended the show to support his wife, Marcia Jeanne Rackley, who’s soft pastel painting, “Chance Gardens Koi,” was in the Top 50 and is pictured just behind him.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/web1_TSD081116Top50-4-2.jpgDan Rackley, of Columbia, takes a look at “Sleep,” a sculpture by Steve Gorman, at the Missouri Top 50 show opening Wednesday evening in the Fine Arts Building on the Missouri State Fairgrounds. Rackley attended the show to support his wife, Marcia Jeanne Rackley, who’s soft pastel painting, “Chance Gardens Koi,” was in the Top 50 and is pictured just behind him.

Gary Cadwallader, left, shakes hands with Daum Museum of Contemporary Art Director/Curator Tom Piche as he receives the State Fair Community College Purchase Award for his acrylic painting, “Refuge,” which had already won an award in the Missouri Top 50. Piche said SFCC President Joanna Anderson was so “taken” with the piece that she wants the painting’s rotation on the campus to begin in her office.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/web1_TSD081116Top50-5-2.jpgGary Cadwallader, left, shakes hands with Daum Museum of Contemporary Art Director/Curator Tom Piche as he receives the State Fair Community College Purchase Award for his acrylic painting, “Refuge,” which had already won an award in the Missouri Top 50. Piche said SFCC President Joanna Anderson was so “taken” with the piece that she wants the painting’s rotation on the campus to begin in her office.

Hope Heimsoth, of Versailles, left, and Marilyn Heimsoth, of Cole Camp, look at a porcelain piece by Yukari Kashihara titled “Meadow” during the Missouri Top 50 show opening Wednesday evening. Hope said she was there to support her grandpa, Neil Heimsoth, of Cole Camp, who had a painting of her in the Top 50. The oil painting is titled “Hope.”
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/web1_TSD081116Top50-6-2.jpgHope Heimsoth, of Versailles, left, and Marilyn Heimsoth, of Cole Camp, look at a porcelain piece by Yukari Kashihara titled “Meadow” during the Missouri Top 50 show opening Wednesday evening. Hope said she was there to support her grandpa, Neil Heimsoth, of Cole Camp, who had a painting of her in the Top 50. The oil painting is titled “Hope.”

By Nicole Cooke

[email protected]

Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or @NicoleRCooke.

Sedalia Democrat

Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or @NicoleRCooke.

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