Celebrating the Performing Arts in Joplin

Title: Celebrating the Performing Arts in Joplin

Artist: Garin Baker

Location: CGA Architects (716 South Main Street)

Date Completed: May 2014

Description: As its name suggests, Celebrating the Performing Arts in Joplin pays tribute to Joplin’s performing arts experience – both past and present. Commissioned by the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce’s Cultural Affairs Committee, the mural depicts historic performing arts venues, pulls back the curtain on the performers’ world, and highlights our community’s current cultural offerings.

The mural was created by Garin Baker, a New York-based artist, after extensive research and collaboration with multiple sources throughout the Joplin community. Baker was chosen to complete the mural from a field of highly qualified and talented artists. The public art project was funded through Dancing with the Joplin Stars.

The mural depicts performing arts venues and patron experience from the history of Joplin to the present. From left to right, the mural triptych begins by placing the viewer outside the Club Theater, a significant performing arts venue which was built in the 1890’s and located on the southwest corner of 4th Street and Joplin Avenue. A reflection of the Gay Nineties, the Club Theater offered big name talent from more cultivated eastern urban centers. Live entertainment was a major entertainment outlet before motion pictures and outstanding performers, musicians, and politicians came to Joplin to perform at the Club Theater. In addition, Joplin’s proud mining heritage is highlighted by trompe l’oell elements surrounding the depiction.

A trompe l’oell panel highlights other venues important in Joplin’s performing arts history . The panel includes Memorial Hall, dedicated in October of 1925; the Shubert Theater, later known as the New Joplin Theater, which opened in 1908; and the Park Playhouse, home of the Joplin Little Theater since 1948. Established in 1939, the Joplin Little Theater is the longest continuously running community theater west of the Mississippi River.

By the 1930’s talking pictures were a major form of entertainment and the Fox Theater was built, using the influence of Spanish palaces of the 16th and 17th centuries for inspiration, by Chicago artist and architect Larry Larson. The Fox was completed in the fall of 1930 and during it’s heydey offered movie goers 25 cent matinees. Mr. Baker draws his audience further into the performing arts by inviting viewers into the interior of this movie palace. The Fox Theater was listed on the National Historic Register in 1990 and has been restored by the Central Christian Center. Today, with only a few minor modifications, the former movie palace remains intact and harkens back to the golden age of Hollywood and motion picture studios that once dominated our country’s entertainment venues.

The final panel of the mural triptych invites the viewer into the actual experience of the performer and celebrates the arts by highlighting the performer’s world, pulling back the curtain to Joplin’s performing arts future by featuring our young artists and a few of it’s current cultural offerings.

Press: The Joplin Globe by Carole Liston | The Joplin Globe by Wally Kennedy | KSN News