The Friends of Arrow Rock and Emmy Award-winning Wide Awake Films are presenting the world premiere of the biopic docu-drama, "The American Artist: The Life & Times of George Caleb Bingham" at 3:30 p.m. Oct 15 at the Lyceum Theater at Arrow Rock.
St. Louis native Gregory Sporleder, a veteran actor of supporting roles in major film and TV hits such as "Criminal Minds," "A League of Their Own," "Being John Malkovich" and "Black Hawk Down," plays the role of the elder Bingham. Yo-Yo Ma, Grammy award-winning cellist, is featured in the soundtrack.
"The American Artist" was made possible by cooperation of the major repositories of Bingham's work. The St. Louis Art Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Nelson Atkins Art Gallery, among others, opened their doors to the Wide Awake Films crew and made their staff of experts available for detailed on-camera interviews as well as consultation during the course of its making. They also gained insight into Bingham's life through an annotated book of all of his surviving letters co-published by the State Historical Society of Missouri and the Friends of Arrow Rock.
The film begins with Bingham's childhood that was spent in the American frontier along the Missouri River. A self-taught painter, his natural talent, relentless ambition and strategic friendships propelled him into the world of politics. He was a successful artist, politician and family man, but it all fell apart. His home, family, career and life's work were all but lost as the American Civil War split his world in two. A century after his death, George Caleb Bingham's work has not only been rediscovered, it is celebrated as a national treasure. His paintings, his politics and his life are a testament to his perseverance, ingenuity and unwavering determination. An America that might otherwise have been forgotten is preserved through his life's work.
The creators take viewers on an hour-long journey unveiling Bingham's life with edge-of-your-seat dramatic craftsmanship, combining interviews with some of the top American art curators from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Saint Louis Art Museum and Nelson-Atkins. The film also examines many of his best paintings all filmed from original canvases in 4K ultra-high-definition. Three years in the making, "The American Artist" argues the case for Bingham as one of the pre-eminent American painters of his — or any — generation, right up with the likes of Gilbert Stuart, Winslow Homer, Norman Rockwell and Thomas Hart Benton.
Tickets can be purchased online at friendsofarrowrock.org.