Award-winning artist Dave Carter is preserving a bit of Missouri history each time he picks up his paintbrush to paint local mills.

Carter, of Cape Girardeau, recently hung an art exhibit featuring the mills in a new Sedalia Visual Art Association show at the Sedalia Municipal Building. The show will remain up until after the Missouri State Fair in August.

SVAA President Linda Hoover said Carter became a member after his friend Steve Graff, of Sedalia, showed her his work. Hoover suggested he exhibit his work in the Sedalia area.

“He was interested in having a voice here in Sedalia, which is lovely,” Hoover said. “And he’s presented at our meeting — it was a very popular presentation.

“I thought it was worthwhile to have the single artist, so we could get a big chunk of this series he’s been working on,” she continued. “It’s beautiful. The fact that these are all on a theme, it’s historical and we love history around here.”

Carter and his wife, Sally, have been to more than 50 mill sites in southern Missouri and have researched the mills for three years.

“We said from the beginning, south of I-70 would be our target area,” he said.

While visiting Bollinger Mill, 30 miles west of Cape Girardeau, he became intrigued and then, three years ago, the couple made a trip to Eminence. While in the area they visited Klepzig Mill, Alley Spring Mill and Falling Springs Spring Mill and the die was cast.

Carter became fascinated with the history behind each mill and by how much water some of them could run through each day. He also became enchanted with the beauty and stories of the mills.

“Alley Spring runs 82 million gallons of water a day,” he said. “And, it’s so cold that it looks like it’s Jell-O, it looks thick it’s so cold. It’s this beautiful turquoise and violet colors and it’s just rushing. It’s the seventh largest mill in Missouri. Eighty-two million gallons a day and it only ranks seven. So, that was awesome.”

He noted each mill is a unique entity and has its own special qualities.

“Alley Spring it was the water, it’s the granite boulders at Klepzig, then for the other one it was the water coming out of the cliff-side,” he said. “Every one of them has something about it that is particular to it.

“The other thing about a mill is, wherever there is a mill there has to be running water,” he continued. “There has to be conditions to grow wheat or corn or lumber, because there were also saw mills. Anywhere that was good for a human being to live, a mill was one of the first things built.”

He said in 1880 it was estimated that there were 900 mills in Missouri, although during the Civil War many of them were destroyed.

Ultimately prolific, in the last two years Carter has painted 100 works. A juried member of Best of Missouri Hands, he has 14 paintings in the Sedalia exhibit. In total, he has 110 paintings currently being shown in the state, which includes Sedalia, Hannibal, Kansas City and Southeast State University in Cape Girardeau.

Carter will also be one of the Missouri State Fair artists-in-residence this year at the MSF Fine Arts Building.

For more information on Dave Carter’s art, like his Facebook page at Dave’s Studio—Visual Art Services or call him at 660-216-8669. The Municipal Building, 200 S. Osage Ave., is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Arts & Entertainment Reporter

Faith Bemiss is a reporter for the Sedalia Democrat, covering general assignment, arts, food and entertainment stories. She can be reached at 660-530-0289.

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