Kelsey Ragsdale, of Smithton, celebrated her 29th birthday Wednesday with quite the present — a winning ribbon hung next to her entry in the Missouri 50.
“I was so surprised, and very grateful,” she said. “It’s a very good birthday gift, I’m very happy.”
Ragsdale was among four winners and four honorable mention recipients who were recognized during the Missouri State Fair Fine Arts Reception Wednesday evening in the Fine Arts Building on the fairgrounds. Ragsdale won for her acrylic painting titled “McCollester Bull.”
“I painted it for a friend and I entered it on a whim,” she said. “I felt it was a long shot but then I got in and I did well. I was really surprised. I’m flattered and grateful.”
Missouri 50 marks only the second show Ragsdale has entered, the first being a show with the Sedalia Visual Arts Association, of which she is a member. While painting is just a hobby for now, Ragsdale said she hopes for art to be a bigger part of her life in the future. She’s working to make that happen while she studies to be an art teacher at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg.
Painting also helps her combine two passions — art and animals.
“I paint animals mostly, because they’re my passion,” Ragsdale said. “I have a bachelors in animal science, so that’s why I like it.”
Ragsdale’s very proud mother took numerous photos of the “budding artist” with her award-winning painting, and had nothing but good things to say about her daughter’s talent.
“I was very excited (she won). In a way I’m not surprised,” said Carla Brock, Ragsdale’s mom. “She’s developing her style. It’s very unique — I could pick it out of a group because it’s unique, it has bold structure.
“I see a great future for her. She has flair and style, her bedroom has flair and style, to me that’s an artist.”
Missouri 50 Juror Adam Price had the honor and tough task of selecting the 50 pieces that are displayed in the Fine Arts Building, as well as selecting the winners and honorable mentions. Price, who is the Executive Director at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art in Omaha, Neb., said he was impressed with what he saw from the Missouri art community — the state fair marked his first trip to the Show-Me State.
“It’s fantastic,” he said. “Missouri has a vibrant arts community. These artists have a skilled passion and they’re exploring new ideas and the world around them. It’s nice to see an arts community with that much energy.”
When it came to selecting the 50 pieces, and the winners, Price said he wasn’t looking for anything in particular, but rather chose pieces that seemed to send a message.
“There’s artists here coming from a wide variety of backgrounds using a wide variety of mediums,” he said. “I selected what I thought was a good representative sample of the work produced in Missouri. Each artist seems to have a kernel of an idea they’re pushing forward that stuck out. I could only give out eight awards, but those artists really did seem to push the envelope in one way or another.”
The State Fair Community College Purchase award went to Lee A. Rieck for his oil painting titled “Glen.” The piece was chosen by SFCC President Joanna Anderson and it will be displayed at one of the SFCC campuses.
Wanda Bellamy, mixed media, “Impending Storm”
Brooke Bulovsky Cameron, photo inagllo book, “Home”
Dustin R. Mothersbaugh, acrylic, “Carving the turkey”
Kelsey L. Ragsdale, acrylic, “McCollester Bull”
Sydney Brink, photography, “Granary”
David Carter, oil, “Banyan Tree 1 Shadows”
Debra K. Myers Scoggins, oil pastel, “Adrian cannot stay awake to pose”
Fred Schollmeyer, acrylic, “Frozen Relic”
While the second floor of the Fine Arts Building showcases the Missouri 50, downstairs highlights the open art divisions for both amateur and professional, photography and porcelain. The Junior 50 is also hung downstairs. All artwork will be available for viewing throughout the duration of the fair.