The Well




On Sunday, June 30th dancers and musicians performed an improvisational score at Spiva Center for the Arts as the final event in the exhibit ArtWorkers: Creativity and America, which closes Sunday, July 7th.  Dancers Susan Rieger and David Ollington and musicians Tom Polett, Ray Castrey, and Marcy Kamler presented “The Well” for a captivated audience.

“The Well”, an improvisational score created by Pauline Oliveros in 1962, provides a loose framework for performers to create and interpret based on a five-point star formation. Musicians begin by using the same pitch, and the entire ensemble interacts as performers shift between the points of Listen, Merge, Match, Support, and Soar.

Confused? Don’t be. No two interpretations of “The Well” will ever be identical. Ensembles can include as few as four or as many as fourteen performers and musical instruments vary. Musical instruments in this performance included a trombone, violin, melodica, and mouth harp.

In Sunday’s performance, the dancers inspired the musicians, and the musicians inspired the dancers. In a Q&A session, the performers also spoke about finding inspiration to interpret from the art hanging on the walls in the gallery. Dancers and musicians moved around the room, interacting with one another and their surroundings. They covered the span of Listen, Merge, Match, Support, and Soar, sometimes performing in corners or behind walls away from the audience, sometimes performing, literally, on top of one another.  At one point during the performance, one dancer even placed his head in the trombone’s horn. Nothing was off limits.

True to art, contemporary music and dance is a vast venue for exploring the human experience. As the performers interpreted “The Well”, they also interpreted a plethora of ideas and emotions relevant to everyday life. Each audience member seemed to take away something different. Contemporary improvisational performance is not so foreign that the audience is left grappling to interpret the meaning themselves.

If you have an opportunity to see “The Well” performed in the future, seize it. This was really one of the most artful performances and unique uses of space the Spiva Center for the Arts has witnessed.

-Bailey Stehm, MSSU English Major


Civic Lincolns


Michelle Ducre

Finding Lincoln is designed to allow everyone to find their own Lincoln and express who he is, what he means, and to consider what would have occurred if he had not been assassinated. How would our country be different? Would civil rights have come sooner for people of color? Who would Abe Lincoln be today? If he were a senator from Illinois elected in 2012 would he be a republican or a democrat? Would he support voting rights and affirmative action or be more concerned with reducing the debt and creating a smaller federal government? Would he compromise or be unbending in his beliefs?

Merrill has designed Lincoln Portraits by making a digitally altered print of a Lincoln from a photo taken by Alexander Garner in the 1860’s. Lincoln’s figure has been made transparent, leaving space for folks to draw and write their feelings about Abe.  Each individual visiting the art center can fill in their own visual or written ideas of who Lincoln is, what he stands for today, and why is he still meaningful to us. The Lincoln Portraits created by Spiva audience members will be pinned up in the regional gallery, dubbed The Lincoln Room during the ArtWorkers exhibition.

Artist Hugh Merrill and Spiva worked together to send out the print to Joplin-area civic leaders and elected officials. They were asked to use a Sharpie and write about Lincoln’s importance to them. The following leaders and officials responded:

Brad Belk

Anson Burlingame

Dr. Al Cade

Michele Ducre

Virginia Laas

Senator Ron Richard

R. Mark Rohr

Allen Shirley

Victor Sly

Carol Stark

Jim West

Dr. Steven Wagner


Compose Yourself




Dr. Stacey Barelos taught a room full of mostly-amateur musicians how to compose their own music. Starting  simply with things like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Old MacDonald, students plunked their xylophones or metallophones to short and long tones, leaps and steps, melodies and pentatonic combinations. They received lots of handy handouts and a pencil, so that their learning was visual as well as aural. For the finale, students composed their own short pieces and voluntarily shared them with the group. It was great fun. Thanks, Stacey!

Art Teacher Appreciation


photo 2

photo 1

Casual, fun, nostalgic, family-centered. This was the gift that Spiva wanted to bring to our hard-working Joplin-area art teachers for an evening. Spin art, Spirograph, Cooties, Shrinky Dinks, Trouble, Lite-Brite and more, accompanied by some yummy snacks and surrounded by the ArtWorkers exhibit. Thanks, art teachers for all you do with our precious and creative little ones!

Zumba: Shakin’ It like a Polaroid


The climate changed in the gallery Wednesday night, June 27th as about 20 people danced and sweated their hearts out! Ruth Stamper, local Zumba instructor, whooped and hollered surrounded by the fantastic ArtWorkers exhibit. Dance and movement are distinct art forms, worthy of a place and space in an art center. Bravo, Zumba-cisers! Thanks for filling the gallery with your energy!