Spiva Center for the Arts’ Vet Art program was established in early 2017 to serve military veterans in the Joplin region. Vet Art offers free art workshops to veterans and their families providing camaraderie, reintegration into their communities, and an outlet for self-expression.
Through partnerships with Compass Quest Veteran Services, Connect2Culture, and Crackpot Pottery, Spiva’s Vet Art program has offered printmaking, poetry writing, painting, and clay workshops to over 50 participants. In the coming months, Vet Art will continue to provide artistic opportunities to their local heroes and family members.
Spiva’s Vet Art program is directed by Aaron Skapik. He is an Air Force and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran with a degree in the arts from Pittsburg State University. He is an artist and advocate for veterans and the arts. Aaron came to Spiva through The Mission Continues, an organization that empowers veterans who are adjusting to life at home to find purpose through community impact. They deploy veterans on new missions in their communities, so that their actions will inspire future generations to serve. Aaron showed such outstanding promise during his fellowship, Spiva hired him to further the Vet Art program.
August 10-September 30, 2018, Spiva will host a national veteran contemporary art exhibition in their Main Gallery. The exhibit will present approximately 60 pieces of artwork from veterans across the United States featuring 2D and 3D art addressing the issues that veterans currently face. Spiva was recently awarded a grant through the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau to promote the exhibit. A series of programming will accompany the exhibit, including a flyover, a picnic for veterans and their families, and a panel discussion of experts in the field of veteran art.
Spiva is designated nationally as a Blue Star Museum: https://www.arts.gov/national/blue-star-museums#!MO Blue Star Museums is a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and museums across America. Each summer since 2010, Blue Star Museums have offered free admission to the nation’s active-duty military personnel and their families, including National Guard and Reserve, from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
In addition to exhibits and programs, Spiva has 70 years of experience collecting and caring for art in their Permanent Collection. Spiva has over 200 pieces in their collection, and also act as stewards for the Thomas Hart Benton exhibit in City Hall, entitled “Evolution of Mural.” Spiva has a concise accession and deaccession policy in place. In other words, there is a clear path to taking in works of art, cataloging them, caring for them, exhibiting them, and letting them go if that is the case. Spiva has experience in caring for and displaying important objects.
It is Spiva Center for the Arts mission to celebrate the creative experience and honor the veteran experience and history in any way possible. This includes workshops, exhibits, caring for and displaying of memorial objects, and providing meeting space.