The Arts in Branson – The Creativity of the Ozarks!
The Arts in Branson show off the area’s artistic side and include paintings, sculptures and other art forms. Visitors can see many of these displays throughout the area, and many of these are free Branson actcivites.
Yakov Smirnoff, the famous Russian comedian, displays his own personal oil paintings in his theater lobby, many expressing images of freedom. His “America’s Heart” painting was displayed as a mural in New York City at Ground zero after 9/11 and portions of that mural are on display throughout the theater. This talented funny-man is also an accomplished artist displaying his arts in Branson.
Andy Williams is another celebrity has a passion for collecting art. The lobby of his Moon River theatre features sculptures by Henry Moore, Willem de Kooning and Jacques Lipschitz, along with an impressive collection of Navajo blankets. The lobby also features a Who’s Who of ’60s and ’70s television history in more than 70 photos taken on the set of the Andy Williams Show. Large paintings by Robert Motherwell, Jack Bush, Michael Goldberg and Dan Christianson hang inside the theatre, as well as a collection of 13 antique wedding kimonos from Japan. Andy’s Moon River Grill across the street also features many paintings from his collection.
Mansion America’s life-size bronze equine sculptures on the theater lawn are a majestic sight. Created by sculptor Veryl Goodnight, these three running Arabians represent indomitable spirit.
Just north of the entrance to the Shoppes at Branson Meadows off Gretna Road, a small pavilion shelters a bronze eagle resting atop a four-sided monument. A tribute to all veterans, the exhibit was dedicated in 1995 by Bob Hope and the Children of the Ozarks.
Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Museum houses “American Highrise,” a mural by local artist and entertainer Richard D. Clark. The work took more than 10 years to complete, and Clark used well over 3,000 pens to make this unique art in Branson.
Comfort Inn & Suites on Gretna Road features “Even Odds,” a bronze life-size eagle engrossed in a duel with a rattlesnake, by sculptor Kent L. Gordon.
The centerpiece at Ozark Mountain Bank, in historic downtown Branson, is “Flight,” an impressive sculpture portraying four geese in take-off by artist Gary Price. Reflections at the Grand Village is painter Thomas Kinkade’s exclusive signature store where visitors can go to admire and purchase his work. The Grand Village also features woodcarvings by Branson artisan Peter Engler.
Inside Branson City Hall, Townsend Godsey’s vintage photographs hang. “These Were The Last,” depicting life in the Ozarks in the 1930s and early ’40s, and “Stewards of Freedom,” a gold-laden eagle sculpture presented to the city by the National Flag Foundation in 1999. At the Downtown Branson Main Street Association office is a collection of photographs, memorabilia and other historic treasures which have been collected as the first installments of the Branson History Museum project and as a way of bringing more arts in Branson.
Edwards Art Gallery and Boger Art Gallery, both located at College of the Ozarks, house dozens of impressive paintings. Edwards Art Gallery, part of the Ralph Foster Museum, displays the work of famous Ozarks painter Thomas Hart Benton. His “Departure of the Joads” painting was used as the frontispiece for John Steinbeck’s novel “The Grapes of Wrath,” and his lithographs are part of the museum’s permanent collection.
he Veterans Memorial Museum is home to the world’s largest war memorial bronze sculpture. It is 70 feet long, weighs 15 tons and portrays the likenesses of 50 actual combat soldiers, representing each state, by sculptor Fred Hoppe, Jr. The museum also features a variety of other sculptures and paintings, including “Red-Tails Strike Again” by artist Mike Hagel. As you can see, many of the arts in Branson are dedicated to the American Veterans that the area honors every year.
Just north of Branson is Bonniebrook, home of famous artist, illustrator, sculptor, writer and creator of the Kewpie Doll, the late Rose O’Neill. On the grounds are two of O’Neill’s imaginative Sweet Monster sculptures, “Embrace of the Tree” and “The Fauness.” The Kewpie Museum houses O’Neill’s original works.
Much of the history of the Ozarks can be traced through the crafts of local residents. For generations, residents of the Ozark Mountains made what they needed to survive in the hills. This included quilts, pottery, baskets, glassware, wrought iron and more.
Today, craftsmanship is still an integral part of the area’s culture and is celebrated through festivals, events and permanent exhibitions of Branson art. Plumb Nellie Days are held downtown each spring, showcasing arts & crafts created by area residents.
At Silver Dollar City theme park, visitors can watch craftsmen demonstrate the arts of basket weaving, glass blowing, ironworking and woodcarving, among others. Each fall at Silver Dollar City, the National Harvest Festival brings in dozens of additional artists and craftsmen to demonstrate their skills. Guests can purchase one-of-a-kind heirloom-quality items made by the artisans as a souveneir of their visit to the arts in Branson.
Old-time crafts can also be seen at the Shepherd of the Hills Historic Homestead where turn-of-the-century works of traditional art are on display daily The new Branson Mill Craft Village features the work of more than 100 artisans, many of them working onsite to showcase their wood, textile, glass and leather art and crafts.
While Branson is known for it’s music shows, bright lights, and Family Friendly Vegas reputation, it is also growing a reputation for it’s dedication to arts–and year by year the arts in Branson are growing. From classics to modern craftsmanship unfolding in front of you, art in Branson is just one of the many free Branson activities enjoyed by millions each year.