Joplinite #8:: Jef Alvandi


Jef Alvandi, M & M bistro owner

Those who have been around Joplin awhile know all about ‘Arde’s Bistro,’ a Mediterranean restaurant on main street that has been around for years. Arde’s shut down a couple of years back, then was re-opened as ‘M & M bistro’ by Arde’s friend Jef, who now owns and operates the restaurant with his wife and son. He was another of the business owners I was able to take pictures of for Benjamin Moore’s #paintwhatmatters campaign. So nice to see folks like this adding culture to our town.

Try the gyro. For reals. It’s fantastic.

Jef Alvandi, M & M bistro owner with family

Joplinite #7:: Jorge Leyva



joplin mo artist portraits by 9art photography17

Jorge Leyva is a renowned painter, sculptor, and instigator of great art happenings. Originally from Peru, he currently resides in Joplin and has work in collections all over the world. He is a connector, a man who believes in doing whatever can be done to bring artists together and promote the arts in the community and the world at large.

I’ve posted a thing or two about Jorge in the past, and if you follow 9art, you’ve probably already seen these pictures. But you know, that was BEFORE ‘Joplinite of the week’… and if anyone is both kind enough and has a big enough personality to be featured, it’s THIS guy…

The above shot is probably my favorite. I wanted something that conveyed his artistry, of course, but more than that, his sweet, goofy, and passionate personality. So I set up this shot in his studio… the ‘bear scene’ tapestry he had hanging was very appreciated for its’ tongue-in-cheek nature. I brought in the painting (which Jorge did, of course). Then I spied the monster truck in the hallway.

‘Jorge.’ I said. ‘why is this monster truck here?’
‘Because.’ He replied. ‘I love it!’

It’s just what the photo needed…

If you live in Joplin, you might recognize the following shot, from the new visitors’ guide that was released a few weeks ago.

jorge leyva artist joplin mo sculptor welding

IF you’d like to find out more about Jorge- AND see more pictures of him- I’ll actually refer you to a fascinating interview conducted by my good friend Lance, from his ‘sitting at the feet of’ series.
You can take a look at that interview, HERE.

You can go straight to Jorge’s website to view his work, here.

Til next time!



Joplinite #6:: Jake Cornett


jake cornett

I started this ‘joplinite of the week’ bit because I love Joplin, and I love its’ people. You will notice nothing specific that ties these people together; other than they are loved and they are Joplin. 

Jake is one such person. He is by far the most avid cyclist I know, a member of the local bike group ‘the Crawlers’. Avid, as in, he shaves his calves so they’ll be more aerodynamic. Not kidding here. He made me feel them once.

Jake is very well known by the downtown population, and despite his sometimes gruff demeanor, is a also pretty sweet guy. Just don’t tell him so.

Jake was also an actor in my series Cold Brewed, and you might recognize him from the print I had up at Spiva Center for the Arts during last months’ ‘photospiva’ display. Since the image was set in the 1940s and he has giant ear plugs and a mohawk, we covered him up with a cap and some earmuffs and named his character ‘muffs’. Clever, eh?

cold brewed photospiva merit award winning image featuring actors caleb murdock and jake cornett

For this shoot, I wanted to highlight what made Jake who he is, not hide those things. Jake is also the proud owner of random items… you know, axes, swords, cloaks… so I said BRING EM TO THE SHOOT! and he did. Oh yes, he did.

here’s the prep to begin to get his hair in proper format…

Z-joplinites of the week

joplinite of the week, jake cornett_0011
I convinced his lovely girlfriend Kjersti to join Jake for one of the shots…

joplinite of the week, jake cornett_0012 joplinite of the week, jake cornett_0013 joplinite of the week, jake cornett_0014

Joplinite #5:: Carrie Puffinbarger

culture creators

carrie puffinbarger joplinite joplin mo

I’ve had the immense pleasure of working with Carrie over the last 2 years as I’ve developed a new library of pictures for the Joplin CVB (convention & visitors’ bureau) here in Joplin. Carrie works there (of course) and her passion & outside-the-box thinking have resulted in Joplin being represented in a fresh and wonderful new way to the outside world. She’s definitely earned the honorary ‘art director’ title to her job description, as well as pushed me to a new level as a commercial photographer.

Carrie’s dreams keeping turing into realities, and I’m proud to be a part of them. 

not to mention, most of my best outtakes are of her…


carrie puffinbarger, joplin mo cvb phoenix fired art

Joplinite #4: Wallace Payne



wallace payne joplinite joplin mo
This photo is posted out of respect and admiration, to those who leave a legacy by being people always ready to learn and always ready to share. And it is posted to remind of the power of a photo- that a photograph can make us laugh, can make us cry, can help us remember. 

I encountered Wallace last year, while taking photos of the Murphysburg area with my friend Carrie, for the Joplin Convention & Visitors Bureau. Wallace was just out in his yard, and what started as a request on my part to take a photo of his beautiful home, became a 20 minute conversation between us & he about Joplin’s history, and about his own. 

Wallace passed away in April, as I found out when his granddaughter asked if this photograph could be used in his obituary. While it made me sad, I was so glad that I had met him, and that I’d asked to take his picture on a whim. I never would’ve guessed what that would mean later.

I asked the family for some fun facts about Wallace, and they were proud to give me some. I’ve included a few of them here. He was a fascinating guy, and a proud Joplinite.

-Wallace was born in 1926.
-he was described by his father as ‘odd, but good’, and was something of a genius from the start, beginning college courses at 16.
-He was in the navy during World War II as an aviation electronics technician.
-He later became an electrical engineer, and worked his way up to chief pipeline engineer for an oil company in Venuezuela. He lived there 13 years, married a lovely lady there named Gladys in 1954, and moved to Joplin in 1962 to work at Eagle Pitcher.
-while at Eagle Pitcher, he designed batteries for the air force and NASA. He & his team were instrumental in designing the battery that helped bring the Apollo 13 team back home. After Eagle Pitcher, he worked for many years as a consultant engineer.

-his passion was nuclear science. he was ‘fearless in challenging scientific dogma, once being told that if his theories proved correct, the Nobel committee would have to retract 7 prizes’.

-he was an avid chess player, beating the computer more often than not when he played against it.

And my favorite fact. His intellectual curiosity led him to collect endless amounts of information; and he LOVED to share it, to the extent that he became a regular contributor to wikipedia. Pretty with-it for someone born in 1926. Goes to show… if you never stop using your brain, you never really get old, do you?

Glad to know more about you, Wallace.

Joplinite #3:: Jason Miller [from archive]

business owners, Uncategorized

Jason Miller, owner ofInstant Karma Gourmet Hot Dogs and The Joplin Eagle Drive-In. Culinary whiz. Professional overalls model. All around swell fella.

Jason has helped lead a new movement in the city of Joplin; taking big city cuisine and making it approachable to midwest diners. I love the creativity and artistry that is springing up out of our city… and yes, that even applies to the food. 🙂

shot captured for Benjamin Moore‘s ‘main street matters’ project.

34b food photography from downtown joplin