WEST LIBERTY, Iowa–Always active in the community, people know the West Liberty Area Arts Council for the many opportunities they provide local art lovers, including the annual summer concert series in Ron De Voo Park, the plein air painting contest during the Muscatine County Fair, and the various art classes they hold throughout the year. June 16, the council will bring one of their long-term goals to fruition by opening the Brick Street Gallery at 104 West Third Street, West Liberty.
About two years ago, the council ran a popup art gallery for a month, which the public enjoyed very much. It got them thinking about ways they could bring a permanent gallery to West Liberty to better highlight the work of local artists. Council member Lisa Wertzbaugher helped write an application for a grant from the Edward and Joseph Ryan Memorial Trust which they received, providing them with $20,000 per year for the next two years.
To give the gallery a home, Wertzbaugher and her husband graciously provided space in a building they own, one of the oldest in West Liberty. The gallery’s historic location helped inspire the name Brick Street Gallery, which harkens back to the cobbled streets of West Liberty’s early days.
For its first exhibition, Kara McFaerren, an Iowa State University graduate who specializes in graphic design, has arranged the work of several local artists, including pieces from well-known artists Rusty Brotherton and Karel Cline. “She has incredible finesse when it comes to hanging and staging a show,” said West Liberty Area Arts Council Member Deborah Weiss.
The evening of June 25 and afternoon of June 26, the gallery will hold its grand opening, complete with refreshments and several artists on hand to talk with guests about their work and to sell several pieces. The first week of July, the gallery will open for its regular hours, tentatively set for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 2 to 6 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and some possible Sunday hours. In order to make a schedule like this one possible, the council would like to hire a half time gallery associate, who would open and close the gallery, monitor it, answer questions about the pieces on display, and ring up any art sales. Weiss encourages anyone interested in applying for this position to email her at d[email protected]
As the Brick Street Gallery prepares to open its doors to the public, the West Liberty Area Arts Council could not feel any more excited and has will work to find a way to keep it operating even after their initial grant runs out. “We have lots of hopes and plans for it,” beamed Weiss.