artNotes from Hyde House: A star-studded new year

Merlen White, The Merger

“A good omen” is how I am thinking of a very recent celestial phenomenon—a prescient prelude to artCentral’s glittering new exhibition year now waiting in the wings. The 2021 line up of exhibiting artists is totally star-studded!

As to the recent celestial phenomenon, did you see the Christmas Star the night of the Winter Solstice? The alignment of the two largest planets in the universe—Jupiter and Saturn—was dazzling as the two superstars came so close they looked fused into a single point of brilliant light.

Astronomers believe the last time humans witnessed this impressive sight was around the year 1226. The rare event possibly was also visible in 1623 though there are no records of human sightings, perhaps because the planets crossed paths right at sunset and the setting sun eclipsed their viewing.

Some believe the Star of Bethlehem seen by the Three Wise Men in the Bible’s Nativity story was actually what today we call the Christmas Star.


For our 2020 viewing of the great conjunction a little over a week ago, just before the sunset of a beautifully clear Missouri day, my husband David and I loaded up the puppies, packed a thermos of hot cocoa and a half dozen freshly iced sugar cookies, then headed east up Chestnut Street to the highest plateau far removed from the festive holiday lights glowing throughout our hometown below. Turning into the Silent City laid out on the top of the ridge, unpacking and enjoying our wintry treats, we settled in to watch the show in the heavens.

While a gleaming crescent moon watched from above, we could almost feel the presence of the city’s silent residents resting beneath their stones outlined by the fading amber backdrop of the sinking sun. Then, as if by magic, out of the gloaming and over the serene silence, the Christmas Star began to shine brighter and brighter while the almost cloudless sky darkened moment by moment into ever deeper shades of indigo.

If you did not get to witness this news making main event in the Solstice heavens, though the rare Christmas Star will not make another appearance until 2080, please be consoled. You still can see Jupiter and Saturn very close together for the entire month of December. Simply look southwest right after sunset to see this stunning sight for yourself.

Indeed these two super planets in alignment are worth contemplating if you put stock in astrology’s symbolic interpretation which tells us this pair of planetary giants carry super attributes and powers. The heavens are promising a collaborative astrological unfolding of well-orchestrated abundance thanks to the alignment of Saturn as the can-do dispenser of structure and Jupiter as the creator of good fortune, expansion and growth as we leave 2020 and enter into the light of 2021.

Turning your gaze from December’s show-off heavenly bodies, look in January to Hyde House on the hill above Thirteenth Street. The gallery lights will be burning late and brightly with preparations getting underway to open the first of artCentral’s star-studded 2021 exhibitions.

Leading off in February and March will be the shining new artworks made with the talents of the artists collectively known as the Joplin Regional Artists Coalition (JRAC). The JRAC Exhibition’s moniker is KALEIDOSCOPE—perfectly chosen to describe this showcase of constantly changing patterns and sequences of artworks and their elements by thirty plus amazing creative spirits.   

March and April will welcome spring, art star Philip Ledbetter and his gloriously animated latex on canvas paintings comprising PAINT in MOTION.

June through July will spangle artCentral’s galleries with the brilliant works of artCentral’s ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP EXHIBITION.

August and September will show off the dynamic 2D and 3D never-before-seen creations of Richard and Debbie Reed—workers extraordinaire in a diversity of media.

This terrific new year will wrap up with the star-studded October-November-December PIECED TOGETHER collection presented by Lori Marble and Jo Mueller taking their first artCentral exhibition star turns in conjunction with the dozens of SMALL WORKS | GREAT WONDERS made and donated by artCentral artists for the benefit of artCentral’s end-of-the-year fundraiser.

Blessed preemptively by the heavens, 2021 is going to be a super stellar star-studded year at artCentral! Come look and see. Amble through the galleries and stargaze with us!

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