The non-profit Best of Missouri Hands has changed how Missouri artists show and sell their work. On the Road, an exhibit at Lee’s Summit City Hall, features the work of 15 Western Missouri artists.
One of those artists, Linda Schwermer, turned her attention to crafting jewelry and torn paper art about eight years ago when she left the interior design business. The Sedalia artist says it’s been in the three years since she became a juried member of Best of Missouri Hands, and her career making Japanese and Nigerian inspired jewelry has taken off.
“They’ve been wonderful,” Schwermer says of the group’s members. “They take you under their wing. It’s opened a lot of doors, it really has.”
The organization watches members’ social media and reposts items of interest to broaden each artist’s reach. Additionally, the group offers workshops on advertising and how to photograph work, and will aid members in the jury process for gallery shows.
Any Missouri artist can pay to be a member but must complete a rigorous application process to become juried: Just over 300 members are listed as juried. Schwermer found the undertaking daunting and almost didn’t apply.
“They’re very strict about who they take, but I’m so glad I did,” she says. “If you have the credentials, Best of Missouri Hands, under your belt, that opens a lot of doors. Some galleries won’t even talk to you unless you have those credentials.”
Juried member Wanda Tyner, a member of the organization, curated the Lee’s Summit show. She only considered juried members in the area and worked from a list provided by Best of Missouri Hands.
Tyner, of Lee’s Summit, became a full-time glass artist after retiring from a career as DST’s chief information officer. She’d purchased glass art in her travels and wanted to learn how it was made.
“I really thought it would be ‘check, now I know how it’s made’ and I’ll go onto the next thing on my list,” Tyner says.
Now she owns three kilns and shows all across Missouri. Her pieces range in size from pendant to an 80-by- 45-inch work for an office window.
“I think our lives should be filled with a vibrancy of color,” she says. “I tend to start with that premise.”
She points to her landscapes, with vibrant hues from water, land and objects like bright yellow kayaks.
This is the first time City Hall has hosted a Best of Missouri Hands exhibition. Tyner explains that the program is more robust in the eastern half of the state, but recently organizers have pushed to move it west.
The pieces will be on display at City Hall through May 24 with public receptions during Lee’s Summit’s Fourth Friday Art Walk on April 26 and May 24.