Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

MUSCATINE, Iowa–When the Muscatine Area Arts Council arranged to host their first ever juried show at the Muscatine Art Center, they had no idea how much new ground they would break. Along with creating closer ties with the Art Center and the Figge Art Museum, the Arts Council will host their first ever virtual reception May 14.

In 2019, the Arts council wanted to offer a new opportunity for visual artists in the region. Board member David Ales came up with the idea for a juried exhibition with prizes for top placers and the Arts Council partnered with the Muscatine Art Center and Vanessa Sage, Assistant Curator at the Figge Art Museum, and Joshua Johnson, Assistant Registrar at the Figge Art Museum to make it happen.

Through this collaboration, the Arts Council proudly selected ten pieces of art work created by regional artists Amy Kindred, Kathleen Lenaghan, Kalli McCleary, Katelyn McDonald, Denise Murphy, Josh Rudolph, Sharon Savage, Nancy Streu, Wendy Waltert, and Marcia Whitmore for the show. They also named their top three winners, Murphy, McCleary, and Waltert respectively. They planned to display the pieces at the Art Center from March 19 through May 31 with a public reception for the artists and judges May 14.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench in their plans. Sage and Johnson had an opportunity to judge each work and name the winners shortly before the Art Center closed, but the Arts Council knew they had to find a new way to celebrate the creativity of the first ever Art Array.

At the suggestion of Art Center Director Melanie Alexander, the Arts Council opted to hold an online exhibition. “The online reception is a chance to visit with the artists, organizers, and judges,” elaborated Alexander: “Each artist will have the opportunity to talk briefly about his or her work of art. Muscatine Art Center staff plan to show the exhibition during the online reception.”

Intrigued by the idea, the Arts Council looks forward to honoring the artists featured and bringing their works to a wider audience through the virtual event. “The online reception was Melanie’s idea, and everyone is very excited for the opportunity to hear from the artists about their works,” said Arts Council board member Angela Woodhouse. “We all have had to adapt to the challenges that have resulted from the virus; this is a great way to proceed with the exhibit.”

The virtual reception will take place from noon to 1 p.m. May 14. If you would like to attend, you may join via video chat at or phone in for audio only at 872-240-3212 and enter code 118-509-109.

Pleased with the interest generated by the first Art Array, the Arts Council plans to hold a second annual event next year.

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