News Flash

Springfield Art Museum News Releases

Posted on: May 4, 2023

Texas Artist Stephen Zhang Takes Top Award in Watercolor USA for the Third Time

 A cowboy in profile gazing into the distance while leading a horse behind him.


Springfield, MO. (May 4, 2023) – The Springfield Art Museum is pleased to announce that Plano, Texas artist Stephen Zhang has won the Kenneth M. Shuck Memorial $3,000 Cash Award for his entry, Break, in this year’s Watercolor USA annual juried exhibition. Plano is located just north of Dallas, Texas. This is the third time in the last five years that Zhang has taken the top award.

Born in China, Zhang graduated from Luxun Academy of Fine Arts. Later, he received his MFA degree from University of North Texas. Zhang has been painting watercolor for over 30 years, under the tutelage of his father Defu Zhang and the late professor Rob Erdle, whose work is included in the permanent collection of the Springfield Art Museum.

Zhang is an Assistant Professor at the University of North Texas and has served as a Creative Director for Fossil, Filson, and Lodge26 Branding Agency. Zhang has won numerous awards for his watermedia works including awards from the Signature American Watermedia International Exhibition, the Transparent Watercolor Society of America, the Chinese National Art Exhibition, and Art Olympia (Japan). His work has been featured in American Art Collector, International Artist, and Watercolor Artist, among many others.

Organized in 1962, this year marks the 62nd 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 prolific watercolorist Keiko Tanabe, AWS, NWS, AIS, LPAPA.

Tanabe notes, “It is often said that watercolor is a difficult medium. I have heard different reasons but the most common one is that it is hard to control and make corrections. But when I see works like this that were made with such confident brush marks and brilliant layers of cumulative colors, I know it is a testament to the artist’s dedication to this challenging medium and years of training.”

Other top award winners include: 

  • Greg G. Thielen Memorial $2,000 Cash Award: J. (Jie) Li (New York), Fire and Desire XVII
  • Bill Armstrong Memorial $1,500 Cash Award: C. Normart (California), Valley Town
  • Robert E. Goodier Memorial $1,000 Cash Award For Traditional Transparent Watercolor: Bev Jozwiak (Washington), Song of Hope

Of the 366 entries submitted by 224 artists from 41 states, Tanabe selected 70 works by 70 artists representing 25 states for inclusion in the exhibition. Overall, 10 artists from Missouri were selected for the exhibition including Robert Langford (Branson); Fred Schollmeyer (Chamois); Kathy Morrison (Dittmer); Howard Kuo (Hannibal); Kelly Eddington (Monroe City); Micki Pierce (Nixa); Kevin Goddard (Republic); Jessica Lowe (Rockaway); Alicia Farris and John Fitzgibbon (Springfield).

In addition to the Springfield Art Museum awards, the Watercolor USA Honor Society (WHS) provides 11 additional $300 cash awards, 3 $500 WHS Board of Directors cash award, and three artist materials award packages valued at $500 each. These awards were selected by Watercolor USA Honor Society Board Treasurer John Keeling.

See all the award winners and more at Watercolor USA, beginning on June 10 through September 3, 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 9 from 5:30 to 7:00 PM. Admission is always free. Donations are gratefully accepted.


Image credit: Stephen Zhang, Break, 2022, Watercolor on paper. Courtesy of the artist.

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

Scott A. Schweigert, Curator of Art and Civilization - Reading Public Museum

Curator Talk Cancelled

Posted on: May 25, 2017