Rose O’Neill’s ‘Frolic of the Mind’ unifies her talents

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Frolic of the Mind: The Illustrious Life of Rose O’Neill, opens at 5:30 p.m. Friday, April 13, and will run through Aug. 5, 2018.

This exhibit takes as its underlying theme the unification of all O’Neill’s creative pursuits and examines how they were related, from her hundreds of illustrations for the major periodicals of the day, to her many illustrated advertisements, from her creation of the Kewpie doll, to her more secretive “Sweet Monster” drawings.

The exhibit was organized by the Springfield Art Museum and curated by Sarah Buhr, Curator of Art.

“Each of these pursuits are rooted in the singular mind of Rose O’Neill – a woman who created a life on her own terms with sheer will, determination, and creative talent,” writes Buhr. “The ability to pursue all of her interests, in spite of the strict social rules placed upon women at the turn of the century, is perhaps the most fascinating story of them all.”

A portrait of Rose O’Neill, whose many talents will come together through Aug. 5 at the Springfield Art Museum.

This exhibition traces O’Neill’s work in all media and will feature 150 works from a number of public and private collections including the Springfield Art Museum, the Huntington Library and Art Museum, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Bonniebrook Home and Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, among others. The exhibit includes illustrations, rarely seen paintings, drawings, archival documents, personal effects, and smaller sculpture.

An illustrated catalogue will bring new research to the topic, featuring several guest essays. In conjunction with the exhibition the Museum is hosting a revival of Marcia Haseltine’s one-woman show, Saving Rose O’Neill. This two-act play written by and starring Haseltine, under the direction of Robert Bradley, is produced by the Springfield Contemporary Theatre. Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 13 and 14  at 2 p.m. April 15  in the museum’s auditorium. Performances are free and open to the public, no tickets are required.

The Springfield Art Museum is located at 1111 East Brookside Drive. Admission is always free. Donations are gratefully accepted. Financial assistance for this project has been provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.

The Springfield Art Museum is Springfield’s oldest cultural institution, founded in 1928. A department of the City of Springfield, the Museum invites you to connect with the world, your community, and yourself through active engagement with art objects. For more information, please visit www.sgfmuseum.org.

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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