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Neosho Daily News - Neosho, MO
  • Hatchery offers variety of artwork

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  • The Neosho National Fish Hatchery has a nice little collection of art that is free and open to the public.
    The oldest pieces of art are two of the four concrete fish which surround the ponds. The fish were designed and put in place in about 1940 by Bob North. North was the contractor who was doing work on the hatchery grounds in a WPA project. Two additional fish were added in 2010. The fish are about 48 inches in length and 16 inches in width.
    Another older piece of art is in the "old" headquarters building, located on Park Street. Not many visitors come to the small museum, the entire building is worth a good look. The premiere piece of art in the little museum is an 40 by 30 inch watercolor of the old hatchery building. This piece was painted in 1948 by Richard Rhine, who is still living in Carthage. Rhine is the uncle of Don Jessen, a member of the Friends board at the hatchery.
    A little plaque beneath the painting reads, "Grand Old Lady of Neosho." The plaque also says, "The old hatchery house at the Neosho National Fish Hatchery was built in 1890 for $5,000 and was instantly a city landmark. The first crop of fish produced in the 'hatch house' included strawberry and black bass and crappie. This gracious Victorian style building was the centerpiece of the hatchery in the early days. Strolling over the hatchery grounds was a favorite pastime in 'old Neosho.' Many romances came to flower within whispering distance of the house. After 72 years of gracing the hatchery grounds, this grand old lady of Neosho was demolished on Christmas Eve, 1961."
    In the visitor center there are several pieces of art. A woodburning carving, located in the museum, was done by Marty Forrest in 2010. It depicts a train at the Neosho depot. Two fancy buggies are waiting and some ladies with children stand back to watch the train. The piece is titled "To Neosho Fish Hatchery," which assumes this pays tribute to the days when fish were moved from the hatchery by rail.
    Also in the visitor center is a large woodcarving of an eagle. It is carved from walnut and is titled "Soaring Eagle." The carver is Joseph Leal and measures 64 by 22 inches. The carving is on loan to the hatchery. It is located in the foyer on the north side of the building.
    Jeffrey Jones, a local artist, did a painting of the current visitor center with a pond in the foreground. Most of the hatchery staff are shown at work. Dave Hendrix, hatchery manager, is pictured picking up a fish that had leaped out of the pond. Jones was actually touring the hatchery when this event happened. He photographed Hendrix and used it as the center of the painting. The original painting is in First Community Bank and Trust and a 20 by 15" print is in the visitor center.
    Page 2 of 2 - An oil painting by Billie Stewart shows the old Victorian hatchery building. The painting is very much in the Billie Stewart style. The painting measures 14 by 11 inches and was painted in 1988, the centennial year of the founding of the hatchery.
    Near the elevator in the visitor center is a 24 by 18 inch painting of an Ozark Hellbender, an endangered species of salamander that is expected to be raised in the hatchery at a future date. The painting is oil and was painted in 2013. The artist is Jack Sours, a member of the Friends board of directors.
    A quilted wall hanging and quilt sampler are featured in the art collection at the hatchery. Quilts were sponsored by the Mid-America Quilt Alliance and designed and made by several local quilters. Kathryn Fedie and Vera Nall headed the project. The quilts were made to celebrate the centennial of the hatchery in 1988.
    One of the symbols of the hatchery is a seahorse. A seahorse that was at a hatchery in Iowa was brought to Neosho when the Iowa hatchery was closed. The original seahorse is now in Spearfish, S.D., but a bronze copy made from a mold of the original is on display in the visitor center. It measures 30 by 15 inches. A copy also tops the flagpole which holds the U.S. flag, and copies are on the large stone entrances in front of the visitor center on McKinney Street.
    The newest work of art is a stained glass piece that is located in a window between the west foyer of the visitor center and the bookstore. The stained glass was created by Janice Rae Sours Payne and is titled "Tribute." Payne is from Neosho, but now lives in Oregon. The glass was installed in late summer of 2013.
    While the Neosho National Fish Hatchery is not an art museum, it is proud to house several pieces, mostly associated with the hatchery or Neosho.

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