The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

IC artists defy physical, artistic boundaries of alley

The ArtiFactory’s second “Arts in the Alley” event brought performance art to a quiet alleyway and explored mixing media on Sunday.
Kathy Le
Performers and artist(s) at a music and dance event called Arts in the Alley hosted by ArtiFactory.

On an average day, the alley connecting North Dubuque Street and North Linn Street in Iowa City is occupied by a few cars parked at the Methodist church, a trash can ready for emptying, and dried leaves scattered across the empty blacktop.

However, on Sunday afternoon, the alley was filled with art, music, and life. The ArtiFactory held its second rendition of “Arts in the Alley,” bringing together both artists and art enthusiasts in an interactive, outdoor performance.

Several rows of chairs wrapped around the patch of blacktop where dancers performed. Most attendees watched, but some brought their sketch pads and easels to paint and draw the performances they watched.

On the small patch of lawn in front of the ArtiFactory, local paintings were displayed in an outdoor gallery, and performers mingled with attendees.

Mixing media like dance and paint is the type of inspiration the ArtiFactory hopes to inspire. The building provides space for painters, drawers, screen printers, dancers, and theater artists. “Arts in the Alley” was produced by Nora Garda, the director of the InterDance company, and local artist Deanne Wortman.

According to Garda, the first Arts in the Alley event was mostly dance-based, but this year it expanded to the visual arts. There were dance and music performances, an outdoor gallery of local art, and audience participation.

Wortman said she wanted to bring the different art forms out of a definitive space and into the open. Wortman has a long history in performance art and specializes in multimedia creations.

“Performing outside in a place that’s defined for some other reason is full of references, of other ideas, of questions, all of that,” Wortman said.

Performing artist Asa Ava shimmied before a group of seated attendees, his hair and beard a matching vibrant blue, and invited the audience to join the performers.

Ava was at first met with hesitancy, but after a moment of encouragement to the tune of ABBA’s “Dancing Queen,” they all stood up and danced.

“They saw that I was not taking myself too seriously, or that I was taking shimmying very seriously,” Ava said. “No one is going to be made a fool because I’m already a fool.”

Ava went on to lead what he called a Disco Intervention, a performance in which students are encouraged to be silly and embrace bodily autonomy. It’s a performance that he’s brought to different audiences, from middle school gym classes to government officials.

Ava said the goal was to interrupt everyday life, as the Disco Intervention invites playfulness in places it might not normally belong.

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As Ava led participants into the next number, attendee Victoria Fosmo sat nearby with a travel easel and was plein-air painting, the practice of painting landscapes while outdoors.

Although Fosmo was practicing plein-air, she was inspired not by the natural landscape, but by an earlier dance performance in which three dancers dressed in black wore monarch butterfly masks and donned white netting.

Instead of painting the natural landscape in front of her, she painted a woman with a monarch butterfly over her face.

“I’m just doing it from memory, usually I just paint what I see like a tree or a lake. But I’m just inspired by what I see,” Fosmo said.

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About the Contributors
Lily Czechowicz
Lily Czechowicz, Arts Reporter
Lily Czechowicz is a recent graduate of the University of Iowa from which she earned a degree in English & Creative Writing.
Kathy Le, Photojournalist
Kathy Le is a fourth-year student at The University of Iowa majoring in 3D design and Art History. This is her first year working as a photojournalist of Daily Iowan.