By Kathleen Swift
Photos by Artistic Expressions Photography
An artist by training, Linda Teeter has been an active member of the arts community over the years co-founding the Joplin Regional Artists Coalition and serving on the Joplin Artsfest Committee since it began seven years ago. As a member of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce Cultural Affairs Committee until it was retired, Teeter was a part of the group that commissioned the Butterfly mural on 15th and Main, the Opera House Mural at 8th and Main, the graffiti murals at Ewert Park, and much more. Teeter received the Arty Award in 2016 from the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce for her community service in the arts for Joplin.An artist by training, Linda Teeter is the founder of the Joplin Arts District, First Thursday Artwalk and owner of Urban Art Gallery at 511 South Main in Joplin. Following a career in insurance, Teeter has immersed herself in developing opportunities for enjoying and creating artistic endeavors in Joplin.
A recent cancer diagnosis and treatment has not impeded Teeter’s enthusiasm for continuing her work for the newly designated Joplin Arts District, a 56-block area in downtown Joplin that runs from B Street to 12th Street and from Pennsylvania
“This is not a new vision,” said Teeter. “In 2008, we started the Artwalk downtown. At that time, there were many boarded-up and run-down buildings in the downtown area. Local business people saw the community coming to the downtown area for the Artwalk. There was something new going on, and renewal began to take place. More and more businesses located downtown and buildings were renovated.”
This thriving and vibrant arts district is where things are happening. Teeter and others are working to market the newly created Joplin Arts District to bring more people to downtown Joplin.
“The downtown area continues to offer people a place to experience art in many forms. There’s a cultural vibe here with galleries, boutiques and restaurants, all with something unique to offer. We have Spiva Center for the Arts, Create N Sip, Ron Irwin Photography, Urban Art Gallery, Local Color and other art-related businesses. Non-profits have offices in the downtown area, and businesses such as Chaos Brewery, Hackett Hot Wings and other establishments offer places to eat and drink for those enjoying the arts.
“One of our goals is to create signage to direct people from I-44 and I-49 to the Joplin Arts District,” said Teeter. “We want tourists to know we are here. We have a walkable area that offers entertainment, galleries, shopping, a variety of restaurants, loft apartments and great opportunities for enjoying the arts. We want to grow our reputation for the arts. We have great things here, and we want to shout it out and promote the unique opportunities in the Joplin Arts District and beyond. The area of the arts district feeds into our historic Murphysburg area as well as East Town. Main Street is a part of Route 66, and we will soon be adding the Cornell Arts and Entertainment Complex to the offerings at Memorial Hall and other venues.
“It’s important that Arts District businesses use our branding in their advertising. Arts and culture in the area help non-arts businesses, as well. If people come to attend a concert or visit an art gallery, they will stay to shop in one of the locally owned boutiques, eat at a local restaurant or visit a local brewery in the downtown area. We are hoping to attract artists who will have studios or galleries on the street level and perhaps live in an apartment or loft over the gallery. There are so many possibilities, but it requires us to let people know that we are here.”
Part of the marketing for the Joplin Arts District will include a map that will indicate businesses that are in the district. Teeter explained, “The maps will be placed in motels and the convention bureau in the district. Everybody will benefit from the arts district. The map can be used by people who are traveling, as well as local residents. When people know what we have to offer, they will be drawn to the Joplin Arts District.
“It’s a wonderful journey we are on,” said Teeter. “People are excited! We want to recognize our diversity and represent all of the people and groups in Joplin. We are proud of our differences and want to preserve our history. Our murals are a part of how we share this, but there is much more we can do.”
If you would like to know how you can become involved in the vibrant Joplin Arts District, contact Linda Teeter at [email protected] You can also find them on Facebook at Joplin Arts District.
Photo caption: The welcome sign mural is found on the back of Covert Electric Supply, owned by Bob Heininger, at the north entrance of the Joplin Arts District. Paid for by supporters of the district, it faces B and Main streets. The fanciful mural was painted in November 2020 by Andrew Batcheller and Linda Passeri of Joplin Regional Artists Coalition
Photo caption: You will find the “Celebrating the Performing Arts” mural facing 8th and Main. Painted by Garin Baker in May 2014, it was sponsored by the Cultural Affairs Committee of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, which is in the Arts District. The mural highlights the many performing arts to be found within the district and within Joplin.