Visitors Guide to the
611 W. Second Street
Southern Illinois sketch artist Roscoe Misselhorn (1902-1997) has been
called the Norman Rockwell of the Midwest. "I knew in the third grade
that I wanted to be an artist,” said 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." In high
school he provided drawings for the yearbook, posters for events and
sketches for friends, but he dropped out of school to work at a local
store. After being rejected by the Art Institute of Chicago Misselhorn
married a local teacher, Ruth Tritt, who encouraged him to continue to
develop his talent. His perseverance paid off and he attended the St.
Louis School of Fine Arts, now Washington University, for 3 years where he
studied commercial art, advertising, letterhead design, and developed his
graduating Misselhorn did editorial cartoons for the Meyer-Both Syndicate
in Chicago, a job he claimed paid for art school and models. Misselhorn
published his first book, “Sketching in Pencil”, in 1949 (and is still
is in print today.) During his lifetime, Misselhorn published many other
books including “A Portfolio of Pencil Sketches,” “The Ozark
Sketchbook,” “American Steam Trains”, “Misselhorn's Sketches of
St. Louis,” and “Illinois Sketches.”
His works have been exhibited at the Library of Congress, Brooklyn
Museum, Carnegie Institute, St. Louis Art Museum, and museums and
libraries in Kentucky and California. Misselhorn taught painting and
drawing for Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and designed several
murals including one in the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and the
City Hall of Sparta and his work is in many public and private
1988 the Misselhorn Art Foundation was established and oversees the
collection of over 2000 sketches, paintings, block prints, ink drawings,
cartoons, advertising art and much more. In 1992 the Foundation dedicated
the Misselhorn Art Gallery located in the old GM&O train depot, which
was a location for 1967 Oscar-winning Best Picture film “In the Heat of
the Night.” Upon his death in 1997, all Misselhorn drawings not held in
private collections were bequeathed to this Gallery. The Gallery contains
a collection of more than 2,000 of his sketches of steam locomotives,
historical buildings, paddle wheelers, the historical town of Ste.
Genevieve as well as exhibits by contemporary artists and a permanent
exhibit of movie-making memorabilia related to “In the Heat of the
Night.” Six major exhibition categories of Misselhorn's work include
Depot and Stops, Rural Industry, Coal Mines, Riverfront Life, Courthouses
and Landmarks, and Monuments. The Gallery operates a gift shop that offers
prints, mugs, and “In the Heat of
the Night” memorabilia.
Visiting the Misselhorn Art Gallery
Saturday and Sunday: 1 am to 5 pm
or by appointment
There is no charge to visit the Misselhorn Art Gallery although donations are appreciated.
Directions: From the Great River Road (IL-3) take IL-154 into
Sparta. IL-154 will become W. Broadway Street. Follow W. Broadway Street to
S. Walnut Street and take a right. Take S. Walnut Street across the RR
tracks to the Misselhorn Art Gallery.
W 89° 42.610'
Visit the greatriverroad.com
art trail section for more
art related attractions and events in the Middle Mississippi River Valley.
Learn more about the Sparta area.