Iowa Artisans Gallery unveils renovations at the annual Gallery Walk


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On Feb. 23, The Daily Iowan got a glimpse of the newly renovated Iowa Artisans Gallery, 207 E. Washington St. Reporter Emily Burds sat down with Iowa Artisans Gallery public-relations director Astrid Bennett to talk about the renovations and the gallery’s participation in the Iowa City Gallery Walk. Bennett has been a part of the Iowa Artisans Gallery for many years, and she travels around the country looking for unique art to bring back to Iowa City.

Bennett is one of the five original participants in the annual Iowa City Gallery Walk, which started as a way for MC Ginsberg to auction his work for the Domestic Violence Intervention Program. The walk takes place every year in and around downtown and involves a number of gallery exhibitions. Participants are able to walk through each of the exhibitions from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday. The walk is self-guided tour; maps are available at each of the exhibitions.

DI: How long did these new renovations take?

Bennett: We started in October [2012] with a few projects, but most were done in the 10 days between Jan. 14-24. This has been in the planning stages for the past year and a half.

DI: How do you think they will enhance the gallery?

Bennett: Most importantly, we have opened up the space to allow for more visual breathing room. We know that customers see things in different ways. We are doing more mixed displays, focusing on the Artful Home, instead of always one shelf of one artist’s work. Not having two businesses share one space allows for a more unified look and feel to display units.

We have a dedicated scarf, handbag, and accessories area now. All of this allows us more flexibility in how we use the space. With more open space, we can think about other events, too.

DI:What is the gallery planning in the future? Any new art forms or artists?

Bennett: We are looking at beefing up our exhibit schedule. We are always looking for new artists. In particular, we will look for more artists doing works for the walls. 

DI: What do you think of Iowa’s art scene? How has it changed over the years that you’ve seen?

Bennett: Iowa City has always been a cultural mecca, and I can only speak for Iowa City, because I have not lived elsewhere in Iowa.

It has become common now for galleries and small businesses to host more events than it was, say, 20 years ago. So, the festival/Gallery Walk scene has grown. When we first engaged in Gallery Walks, probably 20 years ago, it was a unique thing, one that was found mostly in larger cities. Now this kind of collaborative cultural approach is common.

And, of course, the Internet has changed the world in revolutionary ways, allowing everyone access to new ideas.

DI: How do you think the gallery benefits Iowa City and the community?

Bennett: We are known as a destination business in Iowa City. I think — actually, I know — the community would feel a loss were we not to be around. Customers tell us that often. We are not only a gallery, but we are also a strong local small business. That means a lot to our customers, and we are grateful for their support. Even former students who come back to Iowa often comment on how much they enjoy the store.

Iowa Artisans Gallery
207 E. Washington
Gallery hours
Thursday and Friday: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Sunday: Noon-4 p.m.

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