Public Space One purchases new Iowa City venue

Local non-profit art organization, Public Space One, will relocate their gallery and print center come October.


Mason Childs

The new location for Public Space One is seen on Aug. 28, 2019.

Maddie McCarron, News Reporter

The artist-led, nonprofit organization for the arts Public Space One will relocate its gallery and print center for the first time in seven years, effective late September and ending by early October. 

Public Space One will leave its current home at the Wesley Center, 120 N. Dubuque St., to houses on 225 and 229 N. Gilbert St. The Public Space One community covers a myriad of events, between its art gallery, various performances, and its own print studio. 

University of Iowa students started the organization 16 years ago above the Deadwood Tavern on Dubuque Street. 

“We’ll be moving to our fifth location and what we’re hoping will become a permanent home come mid-October,” Public Space One Director John Engelbrecht said.  

Engelbrecht said switching locations and finding new environments is the nature of alternative arts in its own way. 

“We are not a commercial gallery, so we don’t typically sell work,” he said. “We’re more for the community to show work for experimentation and that sort of thing.” 

He also said the funding is not always available. This has caused the program to rely on ingenuity and the goodwill of various places to put on productions. 

“In a lot of ways, we’ve been a very small organization for a long time,” he said. “When we first moved here to the Wesley Center, we actually started paying rent. To offset the costs, we started renting out artists’ studios, running workshops, and applying for grants to get funding for projects.” 

Instead of renting, Engelbrecht said, Public Space One will now own its personal space for the first time. 

“We’ve grown this model where we can start to support ourselves within the Iowa City economy, which is kind of leading to this change,” Engelbrecht said. “We are taking our future into our own hands.” 

Public Space One will host one more exhibit in the Wesley Center filled with works from artist Austin Caskie. Caskie’s work will be the last displayed at the location. 

“Being the last show is perfect, because my exhibit is about the space itself,” Caskie said. “The big piece in the show is a fully interactable game engine. So, you’re able to walk around a virtual version of the show while at the show.” 

With his art completing Public Space One’s stint at the Wesley Center, Caskie thinks his exhibit will leave a memorable note on the gallery.

“It is a space that won’t be used the same way from now on, so it is nice to have that as a final show,” he said. 

He said the community Public Space One brought him was one of the best things he’s experienced while being in Iowa City. 

“I moved here a year ago, and I instantly found people who are closely tied to the arts and the [Public Space One] community,” he said. 

Eyeing a new beginning for Public Space One, the space will open with its first gallery exhibit at 229 N. Gilbert St. on Oct. 4 with artistic pieces by Elizabeth Munger. 

“They provide a really supportive and encouraging space, and they really advocate for local artists and local art,” Munger said. 

Munger said it feels special that she will open the exhibit at Public Space One’s new location. 

“My gallery is a lot about exploration of different materials and the idea of communication,” she said. “I’m really excited to be the next addition and to advocate for them and support them with it.”