News Flash

Springfield Art Museum News Releases

Posted on: May 12, 2022

Santa Fe Artist Chris McLean Takes Top Award in Watercolor USA 2022

Two feet, one in an orthopedic boot, standing on top of grass and pink flowers


Springfield, MO. (May 12, 2022) – The Springfield Art Museum is pleased to announce that Santa Fe, New Mexico artist Chris McLean has won the Kenneth M. Shuck Memorial $3,000 Cash Award for their entry, The Boot, in this year’s Watercolor USA annual juried exhibition.

McLean’s artworks are visual exemplifications of their personal neuro-diverse experiences. Their paintings, prints, and installations aim to communicate and affirm what living on the Autism spectrum is like. One of the visual nuances of Autism that the artist experiences is immediate pattern recognition. The artist experiences this “patterning” instantaneously, and it asserts itself everywhere in their daily interactions. Patterns also signify an interaction of time for the artist, particularly the patterns presented by plants.

McLean holds a BFA in Painting from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and an MFA in Printmaking from the San Francisco Art Institute. They have exhibited their work at the San Francisco Art Institute, the Crewest Gallery in Los Angeles, the Center for Contemporary Art in Santa Fe, and the Amarillo Museum of Art. McLean also participates in public art projects including chalking and projections.

Organized in 1962, this year marks the 61st year of Watercolor USA. The nationally known exhibition is open to artists from all 50 states and U.S. territories, and seeks to discover what is new and what is next in the world of contemporary American watermedia. This year’s exhibit was judged by Kevin Umaña, co-founder of The Ekru Project, a Kansas City-based gallery.

According to Umaña, “The articulation of moods, ideas, and concepts is expressed through the effective use of meaningful figuration and pattern repetition. The mood, tone, and feeling of The Boot translated more at an emotional level, the use of the serene landscape and subject matter induced a sense of tenderness and clarity. Through this process, I was able to immerse myself in this specific memory, filled with the sense and emotions of that place and time.”

Of the 386 entries submitted by 236 artists from 37 states, Umaña selected 85 works by 85 artists representing 26 states for inclusion in the exhibition. Overall, 14 artists from Missouri were selected for the exhibition including Judge Bockman (Battlefield); Robert Klausing (Butler); Fred Schollmeyer (Chamois); Howard Kuo (Hannibal); Kelly Eddington (Monroe City); Mattilyn Stacy (Poplar Bluff); Mary Jane Mooneyham (Republic); Nadine Ellman, Todd Lowery, Andi Snethern, Gary Tebbencamp, and Sharon Warren (Springfield); Terry Lay (St. Louis); and Trevor Doell (Walnut Grove).

Exhibitions Manager Cindy Quayle notes, “Each year it is encouraging to see not only artists whose work we have come to know and enjoy over the years, but also emerging and mid-career artists represented in the exhibition. Kevin has selected an impressive cross-section of subject matter, styles, and techniques which have resulted in a very well-rounded exhibit.”

Other top award winners include:

  • Greg G. Thielen Memorial $2,000 Cash Award: Ed Labadie (Oregon), Harbor Life
  • Bill Armstrong Memorial $1,500 Cash Award: Howard Kuo (Missouri), Plein Airing
  • Robert E. Goodier Memorial $1,000 Cash Award For Traditional Transparent Watercolor: Mark Grosserode (Oklahoma), Image and Apparition

In addition to the Springfield Art Museum awards, the Watercolor USA Honor Society (WHS) provides 11 additional $300 cash awards, a $500 WHS Board of Directors cash award, and three artist materials award packages valued at $500 each. These awards are selected by Watercolor USA Honor Society Board members. This year’s exhibit will also include two WHS lifetime achievement award winner’s works by Marilynne Bradley and Cheng-Khee Chee, bringing the total of number of works on exhibit to 87.

See all the award winners and more at Watercolor USA, beginning on June 4 through August 28, at the Springfield Art Museum located at 1111 East Brookside Drive. The Watercolor USA opening reception, which has a long history of generous support from the Southwest Missouri Museum Associates (SMMA), will be held on Friday, June 3 from 5:30 to 7:00 PM. Admission is always free. Donations are gratefully accepted.


The Springfield Art Museum is Springfield, Missouri’s oldest cultural institution, founded in 1928. A department of the City of Springfield, the Museum invites you to connect with the world, your community, and yourself through active engagement with art objects. For more information, please visit or contact Joshua Best, Museum Affairs Officer at (417) 874-2859 or

Watercolor USA
Facebook Twitter Email

Other News in Springfield Art Museum News Releases