MDC Cape Nature Center hosts Missouri author-artist duo

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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center will host author Karen Glines and artist Billyo O'Donnell for a presentation and art demonstration Oct. 24 and Oct. 25. Glines will present from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Friday evening and O'Donnell will bring a group of artists to paint on the grounds of the Cape Nature Center Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m.

Glines and O'Donnell collaborated to create the book, "Painting Missouri: The Counties en Plein Air," which combines essays and paintings that display unique features of each county in Missouri.

"Their book weaves the natural story of the Missouri landscape throughout the histories and cultures of each county of our state," said Sara Turner, manager of the Cape Nature Center. "This is representative of how conservation and nature are not only essential to each community, but often set the tone for the formation of a community through rich natural scenery and abundant wildlife."

Glines said before she and O'Donnell worked on this book, the two worked together on "Artists Along the Katy Trail" where hundreds of artists from across the state painted outdoors with O'Donnell in 2000 and 2001.

"During that time, we realized how our similar interests coincided with the beauty within our state could be part of a book," Glines said. "With his expertise in art and mine in writing, the end result was 'Painting Missouri: The Counties en Plein Air.'"

Glines said she has very specific goals for her Friday evening presentation at the Cape Nature Center.

"I hope to convey an appreciation for the diversity within our state regarding land, people, culture, and history," she said. "While researching for seven years, I came to look upon Missouri almost as a small continent with its separate borders and regions, and immersed myself in learning about the distinctive differences."

Turner said this perspective of Missouri is not surprising due to the ecological diversity throughout the state.

"From the plains in the north, down through the hills of the Ozarks and then the flat wetlands of the southeast, Missouri's diversity in landscape, habitats and wildlife species is impressive," she said.

It's that diversity that inspired Glines' writing throughout the project and that she hopes to convey through her presentation.

"The wildflowers, varieties of trees, and abundant waterways create a harmony that is difficult to duplicate," Glines said. "The audience will go away with a sense of that diversity within our state along with knowing what an important part the people play in making this such a remarkable place to live. Stories upon stories helped compose the tone of the essays and also inspired the artist to choose the subjects chosen by O'Donnell."

Glines' and O'Donnell's book received the 2009 Governor's Distinguished Literary Achievement Award by the Missouri Humanities Council.

Glines is an award-winning journalist and photojournalist who lives in Des Peres. She has taught communication classes at the university level, served as a mentor to journalism students, and served as president of both the Missouri Professional Communicators and the St. Louis Artists' Guild. Her published works have appeared locally, nationally, and internationally.

O'Donnell, lives in Eureka and is founder of the Artists along the Katy Trail program, the precursor of Plein Air organized events across Missouri. He is a signature member of the Plein Air Painters of America and was selected as one of America's Fifty Exceptional Plein Air Painters by the Haggin Museum in Stockton, Calif. His works are included in prestigious collections in the United States, Japan, and Europe.

The public is invited to view Glines' presentation Friday evening and then return to the Cape Nature Center Saturday for an opportunity to watch O'Donnell and his students in action as they paint natural scenes surrounding the nature center. No registration is required. Saturday's event is an unstructured event, where guests may view the artists' work throughout the nature center grounds.

More information about Glines' and O'Donnell's work may be found online at

More information on this and other programs at the Cape Nature Center may be found at