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Art Display at OzSBI featureing the photography of Melissa Wharton

Art Display at OzSBI featureing the photography of Melissa Wharton

The West Plains Council on the Arts (WPCA) and Ozarks Small Business Incubator (OzSBI) have partnered to bring quarterly art displays to the incubator. Local photographer Melissa Wharton’s works will be featured inside OzSBI’s first floor December 30 through the end of March 2023. Visitors may view the display at the incubator during OzSBI’s business hours, anytime between 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.

WPCA Coordinator Janey Hale describes the works, “Capturing the beauty of her surroundings, Melissa reveals a true understanding of all nature has to offer. Her photography presents an opportunity for the viewer to experience places they might not see otherwise.”

Growing up in West Plains, Wharton has always had an interest in the Ozarks mills and springs. Starting with her grandparents taking her on frequent visits to Rockbridge Mill, Wharton began photographing travel outings at a young age. This interest led her to a bachelor’s degree in studio art with an emphasis in graphic design and photography. A career spanning three decades has always included roles where she can be creative.

Wharton recently won first place in the People Category in a photography contest in Terrain Magazine. The photo features Wharton’s son, Sawyer Smith, in the wheel at Turner Mill.

Her current position as tourism manager for the City of West Plains embodies all her previous work into one: graphic design, photography, writing, public relations, and retail. Being able to explore the Ozarks and capture its beauty in photos is now one of her job duties. Sharing the Ozarks with others is just a perk of the job. She is embarrassed to admit that all her photos are captured on her cell phone, but it is the years of training and the artistic eye that make the difference.

Artist Statement:

“Having grown up and lived in the West Plains area most of my life, I have always had an interest in photographing the Ozarks. Two years ago, when I was hired by the City of West Plains, this passion became a part of my job. I now have the honor to photograph and promote our beautiful area that we get to call home.”

“For this show, I wanted to share some of my travels from 2022. My husband owns Bartlett Moving Services, and I am lucky enough to tag along sometimes. The show will feature a few photos of the Ozarks, but also will feature photos from a couple of moves that I went along on: Seattle and Vermont. The journey there is half the fun (especially in a moving truck).”

A Meet-the-Artist event will be held on Thursday, January 19, 2-4 p.m. in OzSBI’s lobby at 408 Washington Ave. in West Plains. The public is invited to attend to meet Wharton and view and discuss the pieces on display.

For more information about the exhibit, contact Madison Sutterfield

at OzSBI or WPCA Coordinator Janey Hale at

Ozarks Small Business Incubator
08:30 AM - 04:30 PM, every day through Mar 31, 2023.

Event Supported By

West Plains Council on the Arts
Ozarks Small Business Incubator
408 Washington Ave
West Plains, Missouri 65775