What a strong, strong state this is. Where to start?
1. Director: Robert Altman, with Gosford Park as my unusual choice of favorite. Nashville I find unwatchable.
2. Popular music: Chuck Berry; "13 Question Method" is his best little-known song. Throw in Eminem and Wilco and Burt Bacharach for good measure.
3. Ragtime song: "Euphonic Sounds," by Scott Joplin.
4. Jazz song: "Koko," by Charlie Parker. Don't forget "St. Louis Blues." Count Basie, Mary Lou Williams, Coleman Hawkins, and Lester Young all could be put into the Kansas City jazz tradition.
5. Painter: Thomas Hart Benton, with George Caleb Bingham as a good runner-up.
6. Sculptor: Donald Judd.
7. Writer: Duh. But after that, I don't find Heinlein or Laura Ingalls Wilder or William Burroughs to be readable (sorry!)
8. Poet: T.S. Eliot, with Marianne Moore and James Langston Hughes as runners-up.
Virgil Thomson belongs somewhere, but in what category? Note also that Kansas City has a superb collection of Chinese art and St. Louis has wonderful contemporary German art.
The bottom line: Amazing! Kansas City and St. Louis were on the rise while America was experiencing one of its cultural peaks.