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Living Life to the Fullest In Southwest Missouri

George A. Spiva Center for the Arts

George A. Spiva Center for the Arts

Did you know that Joplin is bursting at the seams with artistic talent? I’m always reminded of this whenever I visit the George A. Spiva Center for the Arts.

Referred to simply as “Spiva,” the center is housed in the historic Cosgrove building in downtown Joplin. Founded in 1947 as the Ozark Artist Guild (in a different location), this center was the vision of Joplin businessman George A. Spiva, who wanted to promote the arts in the area.


Spiva sculpture


Over 60 years later, the center is successfully continuing its mission. There are new artwork exhibits in its three galleries every six weeks, and admission is free.

To meet the needs and interests of artistic members of the community, Spiva also offers art classes throughout the year (for people of all ages), as well as summer camps. Spiva is able to offer these services and resources to the public thanks in large part to its members and volunteers.

On my most recent visit to the center, I was fortunate to see the PhotoSpiva exhibit. The crisp white walls of the main gallery were punctuated with 82 fantastic photographs chosen from over 1,000 entries in the PhotoSpiva competition.

Amateur and professional photographers from all over the United States participate in this annual competition. It is the longest-running competition of its kind, having begun in 1977.


Spiva still

At first glance, this appears to be a top hat, but it’s actually a covered dish containing dried berries. 


In this year’s exhibit, I saw works from photographers from California, New York, Georgia, and Texas, plus several from the Four States (even a few from people that I know!).


Spiva cupcakes

“Gluttony” by Joplinite Sarah Clements. This looks like me after eating at Cupcakes by Liz. 


In addition to PhotoSpiva, other special events at the center include FilmSpiva, a competition where entrants are given 48 hours to complete a short film, and the Spiva Membership Show, where over 100 Spiva members present their own works of art to be exhibited.

After I finished walking through the PhotoSpiva exhibit, I went to the upstairs gallery where “Faces of Hope: The Inspiring People of God’s Resort” was being exhibited. In these photos, local photographer Whitney Scott captures the spirit of people who have triumphed over major challenges in their lives while living at God’s Resort in downtown Joplin.


Spiva God's Resort


God’s Resort is an organization that provides affordable housing, and offers its residents assistance in overcoming poverty and addictions. Whitney Scott’s photographs of the residents are compelling and inspirational. I’m grateful to have seen the exhibit because I’d never heard of God’s Resort before. I’m glad to know that this organization exists and has helped transform the lives of many people in our city.

After viewing the upstairs gallery, I went to the regional gallery on the first floor, and saw the exhibit “Natalie Wiseman: Un-Still Life.” This Joplin artist’s work is vibrant and whimsical, and I felt like I could walk through several more times and discover new details in each painting.



Spiva princess

 I love Princess Leia’s bun!


Located next to the regional gallery is the gift shop – one of my absolute favorite places in Joplin for buying unique gifts. In fact, when I was there, I found a necklace to buy for my mom for Mother’s Day. When I went to check out, I asked the Spiva volunteer which artist had made the necklace, and she pointed to another woman standing at the front desk, Marta Churchwell. So, I had a chance to meet the artist who made the necklace. How cool is that?


Spiva gift


That’s one of the reason’s why Spiva is so special in this community; it allows Joplin residents to easily connect with local artists. Whether it’s buying a handcrafted item in the gift store, appreciating the artwork of a local resident exhibited in the gallery, or learning a technique in a class taught by a Joplin artist, Spiva makes art accessible.


Spiva bust

George A. Spiva


Thanks for making Spiva the fine art hub of the Four States, George!

butterfly pic


Spiva is located at 222 West Third Street in Joplin. Click here to visit its website and click here to see its Facebook page.

To find out about ways that you can support Spiva, click here.

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This article was commissioned by the Joplin CVB, however the opinions expressed are purely my own. The purpose of Joplin MO Life is to highlight all the best that our area has to offer, and when an article is written about a restaurant, business, attraction, or event, it is because I have had an enjoyable experience and want to share it with others.

Click here to visit the Joplin CVB’s Facebook page.

Living Life to The Fullest!

Joplin MO LifeI love seeking out new experiences and finding places off the beaten path. I started Joplin MO Life in August 2013 as a way to share my discoveries with others in the Joplin community so that they can learn about the resources that exist right in their own backyards.

I have worked in education and event planning, and have always loved to write. I hold a master's degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a bachelor's degree in marketing from Tulane University.


  1. Thank you for the very kind words regarding the God’s Resort exhibit. It was a labor of love (and joy!) and we’re humbled by your feature.

  2. God’s Resort is extremely grateful to Spiva Art Gallery and to Whitney Scott Photography for sharing the faces of God’s Resort. God’s Resort gives God all the glory for how he brings people together in such diverse ways. We had never been to Spiva Art Gallery before but know that it allows many in our community to showcase their talents. As a result God has also been glorified as many people now know the heart of the ministry at God’s Resort. Thanks you and God Bless you!!


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