Do you know what turns 125 this year? Here’s a hint: we wouldn’t be able to get in or out of Jefferson City without it.
2018 marks the 125th anniversary of the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce, and it was the Chamber that initiated building the Bolivar Street bridge over the Missouri River 125 years ago. The bridge has become an iconic part of Jefferson City; your own mayor/artist did a painting of the bridge, river, and Capital City skyline to celebrate.
When the Chamber Gala Committee approached me with the idea of doing an original painting for the celebration, I couldn’t wait to get my paints out. The canvas was blank, but the vision was clear and vibrant. The Bridge: growing, building, connecting.
Where would our community be without the vision of our leaders 125 years ago? With each brushstroke, I wondered what legacy we would add to the future of JCMO. We’re currently a river city without river access from the capitol side, but that’s going to change — we’re now envisioning a walkway bridge from the capitol over the railroad tracks to a riverfront park. Imagine prom, homecoming, and wedding pictures captured along the walking bridge with the stunning view of the Capitol like we’ve never seen. Imagine walking to a park on the riverbank, busy with walkers and bikers enjoying the tranquil setting, discovering native plants, the beauty of the river, the lull of the trains moving along the tracks, all in a way that’s never been seen before. It will be a place to bring children, grandchildren, family, friends, students, and visitors for generations.
I started my painting with the light blue sky, then the waters of the Missouri River, deep blue, reflecting the sky. The beauty of our river is how it takes on the colors of the sky and the seasons — that’s why we flock to it year-round, taking in Jefferson City’s reflection in the flowing water. Then I painted the heart of our city and our state, the Capitol, with its stunning dome. Then it was St. Peter’s Church — our many churches are the soul of our city. The Supreme Court and County Courthouse made the downtown skyline come alive, as did Central Bank flying the American flag proudly above all. In sepia tone colors, I added a steam engine on the tracks along the river. The Missouri State Penitentiary is visible along Capitol Avenue, our history being restored now to its former glory, and Lincoln University sits proudly on the hill. The Federal Courthouse blends old and new. To the west, you can see the outline of the old Bolivar Street bridge.
Sometimes, you stare at a blank canvas and wonder, hoping for the right inspiration to bring vision and life to a project. With each brushstroke I took on this one, I realized we have the most beautiful skyline, something we often take for granted. I also realized how important it is to see the big picture and proceed forward with vision and dreams. Even when the vision seems too big, we’re painting the future of our city together, like the chamber did 125 years ago. We just have to be able to see something that’s not there yet — our goal, our dreams for the future. Like an artist looking at a canvas. The possibilities are endless!
Here’s a piece of trivia you can impress your friends with: What’s the term for 125 years? Quasquicentennial! I think we look pretty good for 125 years, JCMO. If you’re interested in one of the 125 limited edition prints of the painting, they go for $125 dollars each while supplies last at the chamber. Proceeds go toward this year-long community celebration!