You, too, can own a piece of Capitol art, or Who is that Masked Man/Woman?

(We have been asked to clarify a couple of things in our original version of this post. You’ll find the changes if you read through this post again. And you should.  Read through it again.

Your honorable scribe has not decided what mask he will wear although he is considering what a T-Red head would look like on top of a tuxedo)

Thousands of people each year are stunned when they walk into the House Lounge at the Capitol and find themselves surrounded by Thomas Hart Benton’s “Social History of Missouri” mural.  It’s hard to determine how much it’s worth because of its size and its location.  The state of Missouri paid Benton $16,000 to paint it in 1936. Some of the lithographs of some of the images sell for thousands of dollars today.  Through the years, this frequent visitor to that room has heard estimates of the value of the mural as being more than the cost of building the capitol (which was about $4 million) to multiples of that.

Do we ever have a deal for you!!!

You can own a copy of the Benton mural for a fraction of its value.  In fact, I know some folks who would be glad to sell you one for, oh, say, one-tenth of the value of the original.  And don’t worry. You won’t have to build a 25×50-foot addition to your house.

A panoramic five-foot long photo of the mural is one of several reproductions of Capitol art that will be auctioned at the Capitol Masquerade Ball on December 12.  It will be in the rotunda, starting at 7 p.m.  The proceeds will benefit three organizations: The Missouri State Capitol Commission, the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, and Missouri Association for Community Action.

All you need is a mask and a ticket.


General ticket donations are $100.  If you want to be a Very Important Person—and you are, you know, admit it—you can get a VIP ticket for $250.  Those who buy the VIP tickets will have get a commemorative gift and you can hang out with other VIPs in the VIP lounge.

Just let the organizers know you’re going to be there and reserve your ticket at

You might get to rub elbows with a whole bunch of important folks.  The top state office-holders and both of our U. S. Senators are honorary co-hosts.  The organizers can’t promise all of them will be there, but it will be worth the price of your ticket to find out who is.  And besides, you’ll have a chance to rub elbows with a lot of other good folks and you’ll be supporting three fine organizations.

Mike Michelson will be there to tickle the ivories.  The Norm Ruebling Band will play music anybody can dance to.  There will be a Redlight Photobooth to commemorate your presence in any way you’d like.  There will be beverages and Hors d’oeuvres.

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And organizers will sell things.  There will be a silent auction.   AND there will be what the sponsoring groups hope will be a really, really NOISY auction.

And this is where you can get some really great things for your home or your office.

Just imagine that five-foot long Benton Mural hanging in the lobby of your office or behind your desk or above your bed or—well, just imagine.

There are also a couple of other prints of parts of the mural.  They’ll also be auctioning off photos of the portraits of Mark Twain and Susan Elizabeth Blow that most people see only if they get into the Governor’s office.   Mark, of course, is Missouri’s most famous writer.  Susan is the founder of the kindergarten in America.

Are you a Civil War person?  How about reproductions of the N. C. Wyeth murals depicting the Battle of Wilson’s Creek and the Battle of Westport?  (This is one of the changes. The Wyeth prints won’t be sold at this event. They’re being saved for a later event so if you had your heart and your checkbook prepared to buy them, save both for a later event. We don’t know if masks will be involved).

And a print of another of the monumental murals in the Capitol also will be auctioned:  Charles Hoffbauer’s “The Glory of Missouri in War” mural from the House of Representatives.

All of these can be yours if you (a) buy a ticket and (b) outbid somebody else who also wants these unique decorations for home or office.  Folks, you won’t have a chance to buy these images anywhere else. Nowhere.

The pictures are photographs by Lloyd Grotjan, the Jefferson City photographer who did the outstanding photographs for The Art of the Missouri Capitol: History in Canvas, Bronze, and Stone took for the book.   The five-foot long Benton mural panoramic view originally was intended to be a fold-out in the book but we had to leave it out because, well, a five-foot long book wouldn’t fit on many coffee tables.

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There needs to be a noble purpose for this fund-raiser.  Support for MACA and MCADSV is vital in helping them fight domestic and sexual violence and helping the 930,000 Missourians living below the poverty line.   Support for the Capitol Commission will continue its efforts to assess and restore the art of the Capitol, most of which has gone years without care.

Last year the commission held a wine-tasting event that included a great discussion of how wine tastes differently in different glasses (and tasters got to take home a set of glasses).  The money raised from that event has financed assessments on 55 paintings.  The Office of Administration is moving forward with restoration/repair of the art that’s been assessed.  The commission wants to continue that important work.

Just a few days ago commission chairman Dana Miller hired ICA Art Conservation to assess the condition of the Benton mural.  ICA is a nonprofit group that specializes in conservation and repair of the works of Midwest artists.  It has been highly recommended to the commission by the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City.

So get in the closet and dig out the kids’ Halloween masks, or get busy with some cloth and feathers and make something outrageous,

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or go out and buy something.   Most folks probably will be in business attire but the sponsors sure won’t mind if you want to show up fully-costumed.  (Actually, the sponsors hope you’ll NOT wear business attire because this is a high-class event.  Dana would like to see people in formal attire although she says business attire is acceptable.  But formal attire is preferable. Even if you wear a T-Rex head for your mask.)

You should be that Masked Man.  Or Masked Woman.

Let me know what you think......