This large, hand-painted landscape screen is believed to have decorated the Riverside Inn in Ozark, Missouri. The Riverside Inn was an Ozark institution that stood on the Finely River from 1925 to 2009. The hotel and restaurant sold fried chicken and served as a well-known playhouse in the region. The owner of Riverside Inn, Howard Garrison, was an infamous but well-loved character in the Ozarks. During Prohibition, Garrison sold alcohol at the Riverside Inn and even ran illegal gambling machines; because of these transgressions, he was jailed around 1940, which he called a “vacation.”
Garrison was known for his own paintings as well as for the extravagant and eclectic style of decoration in the Riverside Inn. Garrison was an avid self-taught painter, and he listed himself as being an “artist” as his occupation on the census at the age of 18. Garrison also became a successful restaurateur, running the Riverside Inn until he sold it in 1970; possibly based on Garrison’s connection, the Riverside Inn continued to thrive until it closed in 2009.
Because this landscape was painted after 1970, the second owner of the Riverside Inn likely added this room divider to the restaurant. This painting would have fit in well at the Riverside, as it was painted in an extravagant, decorative style reminiscent of Garrison’s own paintings. In addition to large, painted room dividers like this one, the Riverside Inn also featured Garrison’s hand-painted walls, along with chandeliers, mirrors, lattice, and greenery.
The creator of this room divider, Maitland-Smith, is a fine furniture maker in Taylorsville, North Carolina that was established by 1980. The company has designed fine home furnishings based on a tradition of European decorating styles from the 17th and 18th centuries, and painted room dividers and screens are among the company’s specialties. The imagery on Maitland-Smith furniture is created by designers who draw upon the fine art styles of the European masters, and then trained painters hand-paint the screens and other furniture in the Maitland Smith studio.
For more information, you may contact the researcher(s) noted in the title of this exhibit entry, or Dr. Billie Follensbee, the professor of the course, at BillieFollensbee@MissouriState.edu