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Gift allows museum to acquire largest watercolor yet to collection

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The Springfield Art Museum is pleased to announce the acquisition of Missouri artist’s “Loosened #3” (roughly four-foot by 11-foot wide) to its permanent collection. Pearce represents the State of Missouri in the current Four by Four: 2016 Midwest Invitational Exhibition (4×4), on display through December 4, 2016. “Loosened #3” was inspired by a float trip the artist took along the Current River, making not only the artist, but also the subject intimately tied to the region.

The acquisition was made possible through the generous donation of funds given to the Southwest Missouri Museum Associates (SMMA) in a bequest from the late Shirley A. Carr.

A native of Lawrence, Kansas, Anne Austin Pearce, and graduated from the University of Kansas in 1990, studied at the Kansas City Art Institute and Brighton Polytechnic. In 1993 Anne received a full scholarship to James Madison University, where she received her MFA with an emphasis in drawing and painting in 1996. Currently she is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Rockhurst University and Director of Greenlease Gallery.

A native of Lawrence, Kansas, Anne Austin Pearce graduated from the University of Kansas in 1990, studied at the Kansas City Art Institute and Brighton Polytechnic. In 1993, she received a full scholarship to James Madison University where she received her MFA with an emphasis in drawing and painting in 1996. She is a visiting assistant professor at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, and director of Greenlease Gallery.

“Our Executive Committee voted to designate those funds toward the acquisition of art,” explains SMMA President Brenda Stiles. “We are pleased to be able to donate the monies to purchase this work for the Springfield Art Museum’s watercolor collection. Given its scope and scale, it is a unique addition to the strong watercolor tradition that Springfield, and the Springfield Art Museum are known for through the Watercolor USA exhibition.” SMMA has long provided major support for Watercolor USA.

Sonya Wise, a member of SMMA and a docent at the Museum has spent many hours introducing visiting fifth graders from local schools to the 4×4 exhibit this fall. “Loosened #3 seemed to be one of the favorites,” says Wise. “The idea that the artist captured her memories and portrayed their essence on paper really got the children thinking. Encouraging students to think and see like an artist, and then watching them sketch their own ideas was particularly rewarding.”

Teaching Artist Will Knauer elaborates, “Loosened #3 is an excellent example of a work that stirs the imagination. It is open to interpretation, yet beautifully depicts the scene the artist had in mind. At times soft and fluid, at other times dark and murky, you can experience this painting in a myriad of ways and senses.”

The purpose of the 4×4 exhibit, envisioned by its creator Curator of Art Sarah Buhr, is to document contemporary artistic practice in the four state region, while supporting and encouraging that practice through prize money and by acquiring work, when appropriate.

“Loosened #3 has brilliant ties to our collection, offering an abstract counterpoint to Thomas Hart Benton’s realistic study of the Current River already in our collection,” adds Museum Director Nick Nelson. “Abstract work lends itself to other abstract activities, giving us a platform to engage learners in non-traditional ways. We continue to be thankful for the support of our friends in SMMA who support the Museum’s mission in our community.”

The four by four exhibit, including “Loosened #3” will be on display through Dec. 4, 2016, at the Springfield Art Museum, 1111 E. Brookside Drive. Anticipate Benton and Pearce’s points of view on the Current River to be juxtaposed in our Creating an American Identity exhibit in the future. Admission is always free, although donations are gratefully accepted.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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