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Posted on: May 22, 2017

Monroe City Artist Takes Top Award in Watercolor USA 2017

Watercolor USA 2017 Square Identity


Springfield, MO. (May 22, 2017) – The Springfield Art Museum is pleased to announce that Monroe City artist Brenda Benson has won the Kenneth M. Shuck Memorial $3,000 Cash Award for her entry Purely Spectral, in this year’s Watercolor USA annual juried exhibition. Monroe City is located outside of Hannibal, Missouri.

Organized in 1962, this year marks the 56th 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 Laurin McCracken, the current president of the Watercolor USA Honor Society, and a noted watercolorist in his own right specializing in photorealism.

Of the 420 entries by 241 artists from 40 states, McCracken selected 85 works by 80 artists representing 32 states for inclusion in the exhibition, the largest Watercolor USA in recent years. Overall, thirteen artists from Missouri were selected for the exhibition including Robert Langford (Branson); Jerry Ellis (Carthage); Howard Kuo (Hannibal); Natalie Wiseman (Joplin); Diane Stolz and John Keeling (Kansas City); Brenda Benson (Monroe City); Rachel Wood (Ozark); Karen Deeds (Reeds Spring); Alica Farris, Steven Henry, and John Short (Springfield); and Gary Cadwallader (Warrensburg).

McCracken has intentionally assembled a balanced exhibit that highlights high-realism, traditional transparent watercolor, and innovative uses of the medium. He notes that, “Acceptance into Watercolor USA has become an award in and of itself. Any of these works could be top award winners in any other juried watercolor show.” When selecting works for inclusion in the exhibition, McCracken notes, “I look for works that tell a story, that provide a ‘slice of life,’ and give viewers a glimpse into a moment of a fully realized character’s life.”

Other top award winners include:

Greg G. Thielen Memorial $2,000 Cash Award: Bruce Bobick (Georgia), Litany VI, The Departed

Bill Armstrong Memorial $1,500 Cash Award: Howard Eberle (Delaware), Skiff

Robert E. Goodier Memorial $1,000 Cash Award For Traditional Transparent Watercolor: Steven Henry (Missouri), Flying High

Pearl Appleby Memorial $300 Cash Award: Rachel Wood (Missouri), Realizations of Change

Potomac Valley Watercolorists $200 Cash Award: John Wilkison (Tennessee), Revolution

In addition to the Springfield Art Museum awards, the Watercolor USA Honor Society provides ten additional cash awards. See all the award winners and more at Watercolor USA, beginning with an opening reception on June 2 from 5:30 to 7 PM graciously sponsored by the Southwest Missouri Museum Associates. The exhibit runs through August 27 at the Springfield Art Museum located at 1111 East Brookside Drive. Admission is always free.


The Springfield Art Museum is Springfield, Missouri’s oldest cultural institution, founded in 1928. A department of the City of Springfield, we are dedicated to enhancing the education and documenting the cultural heritage of the people of southwest Missouri through the collection, preservation, and exhibition of art objects. For more information, please visit For more information, please contact Joshua Best, Development and Marketing Coordinator, (417) 874-2859 or

Watercolor USA 2017
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