An opening reception will be held Saturday, April 14, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Alliance Art Gallery, 112 N. Main St.

Art teachers have one advantage. They develop a certain fluidity between technique and material: pencil, graphite, acrylic, oil, collage, mixed media. And teachers have one disadvantage: little time for their own art, especially if they enter administration. Once teacher and administrator, now Colleen Wagner, Hannibal's Alliance Art Gallery's guest artist of the month, follows full time her artistic passion—mixed media.

Even as a child, she admits, “I always loved beautiful things in art. My grandmother, who was paralyzed and could not use her arms, got me started.” After all, even though a farmer’s wife, her grandmother became quite a good artist, using primarily oils. Colleen remembers, “I was eight years old. She got me interested in the technical aspects.”

Coming from a farming family, imagine her father’s shock when Wagner changed her degree — because of one optional drawing course — from nursing to fine arts. In her senior year, she admitted she faced a potential employment dilemma and added a final semester of education courses.

Now retired, Wagner has returned full time to her passion for art, going from hobby artist to recognized artist. Belonging to artists’ groups in Arkansas and Missouri, she is currently active in the Kirksville MOSI Art Guild, The Columbia Art League, and is a juried member of the Best of Missouri Hands. 

Whether working in acrylics or mixed media, abstract or realism, her art stirs the heart. Scenes of an empty road winding through Midwest plains, or a softly balanced abstract expression of color, fiber, feathers, paper — multi-media — one is left with the same feeling of beauty and wholeness and invitation.

Kim Shinn, the Alliance Art Gallery's Featured Member Artist, admits, "It seems like I have been drawing all my life.  The Missouri farming community that I grew up in was my subject matter.  My inspiration still comes from the beauty that surrounds me, be it an awesome sunset, as old barn in a field, or a favorite animal."

She attracts commissions the way honey attracts bees. While she began working in color in her 30s because of commission requests, this past year, she made a decision: “I decided to return to pencil and graphite. Drawing just comes naturally to me. I try to do what I love, so I went back to drawing.”

Perhaps she is an art-inspired animal whisperer. She recently submitted her drawing of a donkey, in competition against several thousand entries, and was one of about 200 chosen for publication in “Strokes of Genius: The Best of Drawing” edited by Rachel Rubin Wolf.

Whether drawing, creating jewelry, or dog training, Kim Shinn sees with an artist’s eye—she finds the beauty within and beneath, and gives it to us through her art.

An opening reception will be held Saturday, April 14, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Alliance Art Gallery, 112 N. Main St. A piece of Shinn’s work will be given away in a free drawing held at 6 p.m.. This reception coincides with Hannibal’s Second Saturday Gallery Night.