There’s something about a new year that gives a renewed, refreshed feeling to the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art.

It likely has to do with the 126 new pieces of art that are part of the museum’s 2020 Annual Membership Exhibition, where new paintings, sculptures and other media take over the museum.

An opening reception will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10, at the museum at 2818 Frederick Ave.

In its 46th year, the membership exhibition continues to expand its scope, adding new categories for its competition, including textiles, printmaking and photography, among others.

“The artwork entered ranges from people who are just experimenting and dabbling and learning up to artists who work with professional artists. It’s fun that it’s all together. It’s all on equal footing,” Megan Benitz, exhibitions manager for the museum, said.

In recent years, it had so many submissions for 3-D mixed media pieces that it was given its own shared category with sculptures.

“We have quite a few entries in the sculpture and 3-D mixed media. (We have) some media and types of sculptures we haven’t had before. So that’s really exciting. I think that’s going to be a strong category,” Benitz said.

All submissions in the exhibition are entered into categories and ranked by three outside judges, including an artist, an art professor and an art historian.

For many of the competing artists, it’s their first foray into not only being displayed, but being professionally judged.

“It’s always fun to see what your friends and peers are doing. I think sometimes people are surprised to discover that their friends and family are artists or are as good of artists as they are,” Benitz said.

For people looking to turn over a new artistic leaf, the exhibition also gives a much-needed jolt to put themselves out there.

“I think it’s good for New Year’s resolutions that you’re trying to do, because if you enter, or even if you don’t enter, you come and see what other people are doing. It will motivate you and inspire you to be creative,” Christy George, a spokesperson for the museum, said.

It’s also an important feature of the museum to show off how people are progressing from the many classes it offers.

“I know more than one artist in the show that are using things in their artwork that they learned in classes here, whether it was they learned a new medium or they learned new techniques,” Benitz said.

It’s a variety of talent that Benitz and George said catches them by surprise each year when the museum receives submissions.

“I look forward to seeing how creative and talented our community is. I’m always amazed at the artistic ability this town has,” George said.

When the winners are announced, Benitz said the expressions of joy are rewarding for everyone there because, despite it being a competition, it’s a celebration of the art community.

“There’s always those artists who can’t believe they won and just the feeling that you can see on their faces. It’s just reinforcing the love of art like ‘Oh, I have something to say and people recognize my ability,’” Benitz said.

From her perspective, Benitz says one of the intriguing aspects of the exhibition is watching the artists grow with each submission.

“There are a lot of artists I’ve seen their work grow and blossom from, you know, maybe being beginner artists, just learning to now they’re technically really great and they’re expressing new ideas and having more fun,” Benitz said.

On occasion, that newfound dabbling with an approach can lead to a showcase at the Albrecht-Kemper.

“Some of the artists we find for our exhibitions are people who consistently won at the membership show,” she said.

For people in and around St. Joseph, it’s a sample of the wonderful art displayed at the museum year-round.

“I hope they see that the arts are alive here in St. Joe and Northwest Missouri,” Benitz said. “There’s lots of definitions of an artist. People can come here and see that you can be an artist in many different ways and you can find a way to express yourself.”

Artwork is divided into 10 categories: oil/acrylic painting; watercolor painting; drawing; printmaking; photography; pottery and ceramics; 2-D mixed media; digital art; fiber and textiles; and sculpture and 3-D mixed media. The exhibition is judged and awards presented in each category.

An awards presentation will take place during the opening reception at 6 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

The exhibition will run until Sunday, Feb. 23.

For more information, call 816-233-7003.

— Andrew Gaug | St. Joe Live

Andrew Gaug can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter: @NPNOWGaug