Thomas Hart Benton

Archives of American Art / Smithsonian Institution

Joe Jones doesn’t sound like the name of a great artist – it sounds like the name of a house painter, which is what Jones was during his early days in St. Louis. But an exhibition at the Albrecht-Kemper Museum in St. Joseph argues that Jones' name deserves to be as well known as his regionalist contemporaries: Thomas Hart Benton, John Steuart Curry and "American Gothic" painter Grant Wood.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

The painter Thomas Hart Benton spent some of his most productive years working in his Kansas City studio, just behind the large stone house in Midtown's Roanoke neighborhood.

The imposing limestone house was built in 1903. The Bentons bought it in 1939 and lived there for 36 years. The property is now Missouri's smallest state park (it's just one-third of an acre) and has been a museum since 1977.

Carl Van Vechten / Wikimedia Commons

To some Kansas Citians, he's a local grandpa-type figure. To others, he's best known for his sinuous paintings with a Midwestern spin. We get a primer on Thomas Hart Benton, who is the subject of a new exhibit at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Guest:

Courtesy of Reynolda House Museum of American Art

Artist Thomas Hart Benton was a larger-than-life figure. A muralist who's well-known in Missouri, where he was born and lived the last three decades of his life — he's not as familiar as he once was outside the Kansas City area.

But that's starting to change. 

Copyright Talladega College. Photo by Peter Harholdt. / Collection of Talladega College, Talladega, Alabama

At the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Shawn Hughes is surrounded by American history depicted over the course of six murals painted in vivid colors with nearly life-sized figures.

There's a deck full of slaves about to mutiny on the Amistad, the mutinous captives on trial, an urgent scene in the woods as slaves are about to cross the Ohio River to freedom. There are students enrolling at the historically black Talladega College, bringing pigs and chickens to pay their tuition. And there are industrious workers building the university library.

courtesy: National Churchill Museum

It's been away for nearly 70 years, but this week, a Thomas Hart Benton painting called "The New Fence" returned to Missouri. 

In 1946, Westminster College in Fulton, Mo., gifted the Benton painting to Sir Winston Churchill. It was Churchill’s request, in lieu of payment, for a college lecture that later became known as the historic “Iron Curtain” speech.

James Vaughan / Flickr / Creative Commons

Thomas Hart Benton was one of Kansas City's most famous artists. This year marks the 125th anniversary of his birth, and the Kansas City Museum is throwing a birthday party by displaying some of Benton's most prominent lithographs in a special exhibit.

Guest:

Julie Denesha / KCUR

The Kansas City Board of Trade is slated to close its trading floor on June 28 after more than 150 years in Kansas City. In December, CME Group bought the exchange and plans to move operations to Chicago. The Board of Trade building at 4800 Main is on the market, including one of Jac T. Bowen's sculptures.

If you’ve visited the Missouri State Capitol building you probably saw his work. If you’ve spent time in midtown, you might have driven by his house.