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Listeners share their favorite Missouri, Illinois artists

Artist Andy Long's work at Missouri Artists on Main on Main Street in Old St. Charles
Beatrice Dissett

George Caleb Bingham is regarded as one of the greatest American painters of the 19th century. The St. Louis Art Museum will open an exhibit Sunday featuring Bingham’s paintings and drawings of life along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.

In 1975, when the St. Louis Mercantile Library was considering selling its Bingham works, Missourians came together to purchase the collection on behalf of the people of the state for $1.8 million.

Before "Navigating the West: George Caleb Bingham and the River" opens, we asked listeners in our newsletter who their favorite Missouri or Illinois artists are. Here's what they told us. (Responses have been edited for length and clarity.)

Cheryl H.: Chuck Baird, a deaf artist

Joy M.: My favorite Missouri artist is Shawn Cornell. A phenomenally talented individual, Shawn Cornell is a plein air painter who paints outdoors year-round, no matter the weather. He's equally talented with pottery and painting.

Grace H.: Cbabi Bayoc

St. Louis Public Radio reporter Nancy Fowler reported last year on Bayoc’s "365 Days with Dad."

Beatrice D.: I am sure lots of other people will also nominate Billyo O'Donnell, Missouri's well-known plein air artist. His magnificent book, in which he painted a scene from each of Missouri's counties, is not only beautiful — it is — but makes us want to see all of these places ourselves. Another contemporary Missouri artist is very difficult to explain. I saw some of Andy Long's natural — very natural — works displayed at Missouri Artists on Main in Old St. Charles. 

Mike H.: Jesse Barnes and Joseph P. Borst

Nat P.: Charles F. Galt is my favorite Missouri artist.

S.B.: Milton Geis and Rob Dreyer are my two favorites.

Gail E.: My favorite local artist is my daughter, Christine Ilewski Huelsmann of Alton, whose "Faces" project is stirring local interest. Her great empathy for humanity is resulting in faces not to be forgotten.

Robert B.: Thomas Hart Benton, by a long way. His way of making images so exaggerated and explicit is marvelous.

Carolyn L.: My favorite Missouri artist is Andy Thomas.

Kathy V.: My favorite Missouri artist is Robert Charles Smith. His work is frequently seen but rarely acknowledged. The fountain on the side of Muny Opera; the city logos for University City, Maryland Heights and Town and Country; the Missouri Botanical Gardens logo and many more are all his designs. He has created sculpture of metal, owls of driftwood and, my favorites, beautiful sketches, drawings and paintings. Bob has just celebrated his 89th birthday and continues to create on a daily basis. I've met many other wonderful artists in Missouri and Illinois, but Bob is both my favorite and my dad.

Who is your favorite Missouri or Illinois artist? Leave a comment below.

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“Cityscape” is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and sponsored in part by the Missouri Arts Council, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis.