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Missouri State of the State | Capturing Thomas Hart Benton

Thomas Hart Benton examines a study for his mural ‘Trading at Westport Landing.’ All Images © Michael Mardikes 2021
Michael Mardikes
Thomas Hart Benton examines a study for his mural ‘Trading at Westport Landing’ commissioned by members of The River Club, a private club in Kansas City. Photograph © Michael Mardikes 2021

Missouri Governor Mike Parson's State of the State address outlined the challenges for Missourians in 2021 and a trove of photographs depicting Thomas Hart Benton in his Kansas City studio was recently discovered.

Segment 1, beginning at 5:01: Governor Parson addresses Missouri residents ahead of what will be a difficult year between the pandemic and the state budget.

Missouri currently ranks last among states in vaccinations per resident. In spite of this and a recent outbreak in the statehouse, Governor Parson delivered the State of the State in person. The legislature currently has no mask mandate for lawmakers at the capitol.

Segment 2, beginning at 30:29: For decades, exclusive photos of famed painter Thomas Hart Benton at work in his Kansas City studio sat in a box completely hidden from view of the public until now.

It wasn't until photographer Nick Vedros received them from his uncle that their existence became known. The photographs paint an intimate portrait of the prolific painter who once called Kansas City home.

Steve Kraske is the host of KCUR's Up To Date. Follow him on Twitter @stevekraske.
Chris Young is an Assistant Producer for KCUR’s Up To Date. Contact him at
Mackenzie Martin is a producer for Up To Date, Real Humans By Gina Kaufmann, and other podcasts at KCUR Studios. Reach out to her at or on Twitter @_macmartin.