Jon K. Rust

Jon K. Rust is publisher of the Southeast Missourian and co-president of Rust Communications.


The great CJHS yearbook scandal and tales of art and Valentines

"Now You See Me"Ě by Cole Yoebstl, Puxico High School, is a mixed media entry in the "41st Annual Exhibiting Excellence High School Exhibition" at the River Campus in Cape Girardeau. Show runs through March 17.

I'm going to cover a lot of ground quickly in this week's column. Stick with me.

Ever since my girls were old enough to behave (and maybe even before then), my wife and I have loved taking them to art museums. In strollers, they would stare at the colors and the people. And usually, the art gallery architecture was intriguing in itself. As they grew older, though, sometimes the art itself failed to interest and they became "tired", unwilling to walk. So, for years, I've been making up "treasure hunts," trying to anticipate or scout what might be coming in the room ahead, and making a game for them to search and discover. Currently at the Crisp Museum located at Southeast Missouri State's River Campus is a brilliant exhibition of high school art from around the region. It's worth your attention on its own. Not only are the skill levels impressive, but the works provoke thought about the minds and personalities that created them. These are the best of the best of high school juniors and seniors from Notre Dame, Cape Central and Jackson to Arcadia Valley, Poplar Bluff, Kennett, and everywhere in between. The exhibition runs until March 17.

But if you need a nudge, here's my challenge. I offer you a shortened version of a family treasure hunt. Answer the questions correctly, and I'll enter your name into a drawing for a $100 bill. Just email entries to me at jrust@semissourian.com with the subject header, "Art Treasure Hunt." Please ask me to confirm receipt, as sometimes emails get swallowed by the filter gods. And, here's a hitch: For me to do the giveaway, I must receive at least 100 entries (limit one per email address). So, be sure to encourage others to play, too. There is no cost of entry.

Here are the questions about the "41st Annual Exhibiting Excellence High School Exhibition," findable at the Crisp Museum:

1 How many boots appear within sculptures and ceramics?

2 There are two dresses assembled from unique materials. What are the materials?

3 How many works of art have skeletons appearing in them? (An answer within two of my scrupulously checked number will be deemed correct.)

4 What is the name of the art piece with the most "eyes"?

5 Finally, if you are a student of Robert Friedrich, at least for this contest, what category of art are you most likely to be entered in?

I'll be welcoming entries until March 10, so you have plenty of time to visit.

Meanwhile, while you're out and about looking at art in Cape Girardeau, and particularly if you have younger ones with you, another fun place to stop this month is the home of the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri at 16 North Spanish Street (near Bella Italia). Currently, they're hosting the "19th Annual Children's Arts Festival." This juried art show features artwork from local children in third to eighth grade. Bring a sense of humor and wonderment about the talent of children, and you'll be blown away.

Yearbooks have been much in the news lately, starting with the U.S. Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh and now with the mess in Virginia. Here's a fun yearbook story about a great local individual.

In the early eighties at Central Junior High School I was a student on the yearbook staff, I think as photographer (sadly, I couldn't locate my yearbook this week to verify actual title -- although one of my daughters was looking at it not that long ago, so it can't be far away I hope).

I was charged with putting together a "best legs" contest. And so, I went around campus asking faculty members if it were okay for me to take pictures of their legs, the photos of which were then printed on posters and votes were taken from the student body about which ones were "the best," with winners to appear in the yearbook. Sounds strange today, I know. And, you might appropriately wonder if I were in politics today, if I'd be eliminated from elected office due to sexism or sexual objectification. But here's the fun part: I made sure the contest was equal opportunity. The winner? None other than the young coach, Terry Kitchen, with his white athletic socks pulled up to his knees. I remember him telling me, "No one will vote for these ugly legs." He was wrong; he won overwhelmingly.

Coach Kitchen touched a lot of lives. If you haven't watched the video of his speech accepting the 2018 Semoball Lifetime Achievement Award, I'd recommend it to you, even if you didn't know him. In the week since Coach passed away, it's been watched more than 25,000 times on the Southeast Missourian's Facebook page. His inimitable spirit will be missed.

Finally, tomorrow is Valentine's Day. Cherish that special person near you. I certainly do; I've been blessed. I'm also thankful for the example of my mother and father. Married for 63 years, they are a charming couple, devoted to each other in every way. Among my greatest joys is unexpectedly (and without them seeing me) coming across them around town, walking hand in arm, laughing and joking together. I haven't exactly asked them what their secret is -- no need to, they model it every day. I see their love in how they treat each other, which is full of mutual respect, good humor, kindness and caring. And at the heart of their relationship: a dedication to Christian values, serving and taking care of others. Happy Valentines Day Mom and Dad. Happy Valentines Day Darling. Happy Valentines Day everyone!

And, if you feel alone, please know: God loves you.

1 John 4:11-12: " Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us."

Jon K. Rust is publisher of the Southeast Missourian. Email: jrust@semissourian.com.