January 9 – March 6, 2021
Route 66: Crossing Cultural Lines
Sponsored by Dr. Laura Rosch, Lance and Sharon Beshore, and The General Mills Foundation, US Bank Foundation and Missouri Arts Council
Route 66, often called the Main Street of America, is as important today as when first
constructed in 1926. For over 90 years, it has influenced the American spirit and enticed
travelers from the entire world to travel its scenic route from Illinois to the beaches of Santa
Route 66 played an integral role in connecting the cultures in our country as Americans
traveled across the nation by motorcar, mobile homes, motorcycles and motor caravans. Joplin
was on that route, as written in Bobby Troup’s 1946 hit song “Get Your Kicks on Route 66”.
Already on its way to becoming a community with a love for the arts, the influx of visitors
spurred Joplin to become a town that included a variety of ethnicities and cultures, and
exposed all of its citizens to a diversity in the arts, fostering inter-cultural communication.
The artists exhibiting in Route 66: Crossing Cultural Lines are presenting their interpretations
of the stories associated with the highway. These experiences include: professional baseball,
territory bands, jazz musicians, civil rights crusades, military bases, or hopping in that big Red
truck to search for that perfect place to camp out and go fishing. These unique story lines
promise to engage the viewer in a visual and textual conversation.
Art is a powerful tool of the truth, and these artists serve as our custodial documenters of
It is my hope that each person takes something positive away from this extraordinary
exhibition and reflects on the first time you traveled Route 66, or heard the song and sang
along with Bobby Troupe’s “Get Your Kicks on Route 66”, the Cultural Highway!
Thank you to the artists for sharing their incredible work, and to the Spiva organization for
their support of this important exhibition.
-Curator, Sara Sonié Joi Thompson- Ruffin
“Celebrate the creative experience – be a community catalyst.”