Walking with art in an enduring IC tradition

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By Levi Wright

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Twelve local Iowa City businesses will sponsor 12 artists from all over the country to present their work at the Downtown Iowa City Gallery Walk on Friday.

“There’s a real nexus between the business scene, the art scene, and community engagement pieced in the middle,” said Nancy Bird, the executive director of the Downtown District.

The Gallery Walk is a self-guided tour through town that takes attendees to 12 different exhibits, each with their own style.

“Typically, when you go to a gallery, you’re in one setting, in one building and you might go to see art work.” Bird said. “In this setting, it’s just so authentic downtown Iowa City. Each business owner who brings in the exhibits has their own personality. So, as you go venue to venue, you see the personality of the business.”

The event is more than a showcase for the artist, it also gives a face to business owners in Iowa City.

“As a store, we like to give exposure to local designers,” said Abby Restko, the owner of Glassando. “I like to be able to showcase local artist, so that’s really a neat reason for us to do the Gallery Walk.”

The event promotes no single common theme or political agenda, acting instead as a way to foster intra-community dialogue between artists and patrons.

“It’s an opportunity to display a greater variety of my work, No. 1, and No. 2, it gives me the opportunity to meet some folks that are interested in my work or like to see my work,” said Gordon Kellenberger a local pastel artist sponsored by the Iowa Artisans Gallery.

Kellenberger will do a live demonstration at the Gallery Walk in which attendees can ask him about his techniques and inspirations. His work portrays the beautiful Iowa landscape and all its glory, through vibrant pastel depictions.

On the worldlier view, Akar, an international online gallery based in Iowa City, will showcase Matt Kelleher’s work with pottery. Kelleher is an Iowa City native now living in New York.

“This work is a shift from what I normally show. The forms have evolved a little bit, but all this work is actually glazed and has a whole new color palette,” Keller said. This marks somewhat of a departure from his previous work, which was known for its matte stone finish.

“[The Gallery Walk] has a lot of variety so people can pick and choose. This time, with MidWestOne’s annual kids’ Art Exhibition, there will be more families with children than usual,” Bennett wrote.

As it has grown since its creation in 1990, it has continued to build upon Iowa City’s vibrant culture and bring together people from all corners of the community.

“[The Gallery Walk] also raises money for local charities, and I think the community has seen a lot of value out of that and enjoy walking from business to business to see some of the amazing art work, collections, and downtown venues that they don’t often see,” Bird said.

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