Roscoe Misselhorn Exhibit
Picture of Roscoe Misselhorn Painted by
Arlene Green, 1992.
"I knew in the third grade that I wanted to be an artist" said Roscoe Misselhorn. " Mattie Baird, my teacher, had us draw pictures of a chicken using little circles. She thought mine was the best and put it up on the blackboard."
Born just a few blocks from the depot that now houses his work, Roscoe never stopped drawing. In high school he provided drawings for the yearbook, posters for events and sketches for friends. However, at that time, the closest thing to an art class was mechanical drawing. Roscoe dropped out of school and went to work at Hood's Yellow Front store in downtown Sparta, for $15 a week.
Five years later, with the encouragement of his boss Louie Hood, Roscoe headed off to Chicago to try and get into the Art Institute. He was rejected because he had no high school diploma. He returned to his hometown, and his old job, brokenhearted.
Roscoe married Ruth Tritt in 1924. Ruth, a teacher, encouraged him to continue to develop his talent. He finally had his chance when he attended the St. Louis School of Fine Arts , now Washington University, for 3 years. He took commercial art classes and learned advertising, letterhead design and developed his cartooning skills. He was a syndicated political cartoonist for the Meyer Both company out of Chicago and was paid $5 a week to do a cartoon that would appear in over 3000 papers nationwide. He did this for 10 years, saying it paid for art school and models.
Roscoe sketching a picture.
The Depression hit the Misselhorns hard. Ruth lost her teaching job because it was felt that married teachers didn't need the work! It was a very rough few years. Roscoe's odd jobs, such as sign painting and letterhead design, kept them afloat until Ruth opened a dress shop which she ran for seven years before going back to teaching.
Always pleased to see his work in print, Roscoe published his first book, Sketching in Pencil,in 1949. This was soon followed by A Portfolio of Pencil Sketches, The Ozark Sketchbook, as well as books on Missouri, St. Genevieve, steam trains and his last book, Illinois Sketches (1985). Over the years he sold thousands of prints, calendars, and note cards. He became well known for his drawings of the St. Louis riverfront,as well as the charm of old New Orleans. His work has been displayed at the Library of Congress, The Crnegie Institute of Art, and the St. Louis Art Museam just to name a few. In the 40s and 50s his sketches were featured in many national magazines.
Roscoe passed away in the fall of 1997, but not after leaving the City of Sparta his legacy. The Misselhorn Art Foundation, establish in 1988, oversees the collection of over 2000 sketches, painting, block prints, ink drawings, cartoons, advertishing art and much more. In 1992 the Foundation dedicated the Misselhorn Art Gallery located in the old GM&O train depot on west Second street in Sparta, Illinois. Thankfully, Roscoe and Ruth were both on hand and Roscoe was able to spend his few remaining years enjoying visits with friends and admirers. Since opening in 1992, the Gallery has hosted thousands of visitors from over 40 states and 5 countries.
Click on the thumbnails to see larger images.