Virtual Art Walk Brings Pizzazz To Benton County

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
The first Benton County Virtual Art Show opened to the public on September 19 at It was hosted by Benton County Tourism and Recreation, MU Extension in Benton County, and Dina Kowal Creative. Viewers were allowed to cast their votes for the People’s Choice Award during the first two weeks of the event, and Linda Hoover judged the artwork for three other award categories. 
Winner of the People’s Choice and Best of Show was Wildcat Pride, by Dina Kowal, It is a colored pencil drawing of the mascot of Warsaw High School. Kowal also won the Most Creative Award for Bel Air Reflections, a colored pencil drawing. Five honorees were selected for Artistic Excellence. They were Rhonda Snyder for “Playin’ the Blues,” Ruby Hibdon for “Morning Glory,” Lucas Ast for his “Morning Glory” and “Crane” entries, and Dina Kowal for “Baxter.” Honorable Mentions went to Jenn Bradshaw for “Summer on Truman,” to Amie Breshears for “Downtown Reflections,” Roberta Watkins for “Gentle Fox,” Stephanie Pate for “Bundled in Joy,” and Kiela Ast for “Fields of Sun.”
There were a total of 51 entries in the contest. They were all original works in all visual art media categories (2D, 3D, and photography), and came from Benton County artists age 15 and up. The first annual show was originally planned to take place in April, to run hand and hand with the Benton County Wine Stroll. After the Stroll was cancelled, the show was planned for August, and then finally took place virtually in September.
All entries are still on line for viewing at Some of the artwork on the show is for sale, and there is also a page on the website for other Artisan Vendors having artwork for sale. Sales from the silent auction and show will go towards future arts events and the formation of a Benton County Arts Council/non-profit.
Information about this art show was posted on the Benton County Tourism page, the Benton County MU Extension Page, the Dina Kowal Creative business page, and the Benton County Arts pages. Plans for future events include The Benton County Art Walk 2021, planned in coordination with the Wine Stroll.  A Benton County Bicentennial Art Show is also planned in 2021 on artwork that is inspired by our beautiful county - landmarks, lake life, community, events. It will have a themed gallery show in celebration of Missouri’s 200th birthday. Interested artists are encourage to start working on their entries.
Dina Kowal, artist, freelance designer and illustrator, created the Benton County Arts group on February 15, 2019. By April of last year there were 133 diverse members. According to the group’s Facebook page, there are currently 242 members. Some members are poets, colored pencil artists, painters of all kinds, metal and wood workers, theater artists, dancers, photographers, musicians and more. Some members are “art appreciators,” who enjoy the talents of others and wish to be informed about upcoming events. 
Linda Hoover, who judged the art show, is presently serving as president of the Sedalia Visual Art Association (SVAA). She has been commissioned for numerous portraits, other paintings, drawings and murals you may recognize in the Sedalia area. She has an Art Education degree as well as a Masters degree in Education with an emphasis on Art.