Springfield, MO

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2012 Most Influential Women Honoree: Susan Sommer-Luarca

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Susan Sommer-Luarca’s artistic talent has taken her around the world.

Sommer-Luarca, who runs the Susan Sommer-Luarca Fine Art studio in downtown Springfield, was named the official artist for two Triple Crown horse races and Olympic games in Beijing and Vancouver, British Columbia. She became only the second person – the first was famed painter Thomas Kinkade – to paint New York City’s Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree before a live audience. She also lent her talent to NASA after being asked to paint live the last launch of the space shuttle Discovery, and was featured on Fox painting the two quarterbacks, Eli Manning and Tom Brady, playing in Super Bowl XLII.

Locally, her work can be viewed around the city – from her horse mural facing South Campbell Avenue on the Campbell 16 movie theater to the banner for Ernie Biggs piano bar on South Avenue downtown.

Rick’s Automotive owner Rick Hughlett displays a Sommer-Luarca piece portraying the early years of his business in the entryway to his shop.

“Susan is a very talented and well-respected artist, and through her national honors, she has helped bring recognition to the city of Springfield and the art culture that is becoming so well established here,” Hughlett says.

Embracing the community aspect of her profession, Sommer-Luarca has painted for charity, helping to raise money for causes such as the local chapters of the American Cancer Society and the Alzheimer’s Association, causes that are near to her heart. Her father died from lung cancer in 2005, and her mother is afflicted with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

“I began the first ‘Memories in the Making’ painting therapy for Alzheimer’s patients in southwest Missouri, and now there are several regular sessions across Springfield, giving many patients the opportunity to express themselves while having fun, making friends and creating memories for loved ones,” Sommer-Luarca says, noting she completed a five-year term as a board member for the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Sommer-Luarca has served as the official artist for ACS’ Southwest Missouri Cattle Baron’s Ball since its inaugural year in 2009. Her paintings – which tend to feature horses, one of her signature styles – have helped to raise money for the ball, which has netted more than $2.4 million for ACS programs in its four-year history.

Click here for full coverage of the 2012 Most Influential Women.

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