“Members Showcase” at the Heartland Art Club | Webster Kirkwood Times

Crowds filled the gallery at the Heartland Art Club in Kirkwood recently for the annual ‘Members Showcase’, which is on display until Saturday, September 24. | photo of Max Bouvatte

The annual Heartland Art Club members’ showcase opened with the Kirkwood club’s first reception since the pandemic began in March 2020.

Nearly 100 community members continued to settle into post-pandemic life as they were treated to high-quality figurative art, refreshments and an awards ceremony at the recent reception of the Heartland Art Club. The reception and awards ceremony on August 31 was held before a large crowd of members of the arts community.

“I’m very pleased with the number of people who came,” said Heartland Art Club CEO Mary Drastal. “It’s always hard to know how confident you’re going to feel going out and being in a group with COVID-19 still within the community. I know we’re trying to learn to live with that. So, I’m very lucky when we arrive and spend time together. It’s a big party.

The Heartland Art Club Membership Showcase attracts talent from across the Midwest to exhibit figurative art – an art form in which the artwork contains a discernible subject. The showcase is open to the public until September 24.

“I think the exhibit is wonderful,” said Michael Kilfoy, who attended the opening of the exhibit. “The Heartland Art Club showcases a lot of great talent that we have in the area. I think St. Louis is often underestimated for the amount of talent that is here.

The Members Showcase contains artwork by members of the Heartland Art Club. Visitors to the exhibition will likely recognize some of the most prominent artists featured in the exhibition, but this exhibition is also the first time some of these artists have exhibited their work.


Margaret Von-Kuenel (left) and Char Braun look at a unique painting on a brick titled ‘Soraya’s Choice’ by BJ Parker. Parker’s piece won first place at the Heartland Art Club’s annual “member showcase” and awards. | photo of Max Bouvatte

“I’m thrilled,” artist Jane Reed said of her works featured in the exhibition. “Every year, I think the member showcase gets better. The gallery is just full of everything. It’s beautiful, it’s just an amazing place.

For Drastal, it is almost impossible to identify the pieces in the exhibition that stand out – for her, they all do. As CEO of the Heartland Art Club, she knows all of the works on display intimately.

“I have the pleasure of personally knowing almost every artist who has a part in the show,” Drastal said. It is because I know them that their work touches me so much. I know their work and what this particular piece represents. They all speak to me, they are simply magnificent.

While it may have been difficult for Drastal to select a Best Show award for just one of the pieces in the exhibit, guest judge Matthew Ballou, a professor in the School of Visual Studies at the University of Missouri, was tasked with determining which piece would receive the highest honors.

The first place recipient was BJ Parker for his work “Soraya”, an oil painting on a brick panel in the shape of a puzzle piece.

“It was this unique presentation that really caught my eye,” Ballou said of Parker’s article. “There is a sense of time, as if the brick indicates that the artwork is going to last one way or another.”

Winning first place took Parker by surprise. The humiliated Parker planned to spend the night as a member of the artistic community, enjoying the works of his fellow artists.

“I’m very, very honored because there are so many really substantial pieces here,” he said.

At the awards ceremony, Ballou praised the Heartland Art Club’s unique space, commitment to depicted imagery, perceptual painting and drawing.

The honorable mention, third and second place awards went to artists Arthur Heyne, Lorraine McFarland and Jane Flanders respectively. The Heartland Art Club also presented the David M. Cornell Memorial Award, an award funded by its members, to Michael Halbert.

The Heartland Art Club Member Showcase is on display through September 24, Wednesday through Saturday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., at the gallery, 101A W. Argonne in Kirkwood. All works are available for purchase. For more information, visit heartlandartclub.org.

Caleb Sprous is a journalism student at Webster University and an intern at the Webster-Kirkwood Times.

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