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“Art for Dark Places, Art for Light Places” opens at the Stewart Gallery

The new exhibit at the Stewart Gallery features two local artists. Photo by Sarina Lincoln.

A new show opened last week at the Stewart Gallery downtown in the Grinnell Area Arts Council building. Local Grinnell artists Netia Worley and Merle Zirkle presented “Art for Dark Places, Art for Light Places,” an exploration of light and darkness using diverse materials and natural imagery. The exhibit will run through Dec. 14. Worley’s paintings utilize metallic paint so as to be seen even in the dark (hence “Art for Dark Places”) while Zirkle’s pastel pieces work with the theme of light — reflecting off of water, in leaves (hence “Art for Light Places”).

Zirkle taught ceramics, design, jewelry and sculpture at the College for 32 years. She retired in the spring of 2000 and still lives in Grinnell, where she continues to make and show her work. Worley is also a local resident who works with a variety of media, from etchings to acrylic paintings showing currently at the Stewart Gallery. Both artists are as grounded as the earthy subjects of their work.

“Merle and Netia hung this show themselves,” wrote Erik Jarvis ’12, Grinnell Area Arts Council director of events and facilities in an email to The S&B. “We really appreciate when artists are self-sufficient like this. … Netia and Merle have shown several times together throughout their time in Grinnell, and they contacted us to book a show for their new works. This will probably be their last show here, so we prioritized them for this local slot.”

Jarvis wrote that it is important to the Arts Council to display works from both Grinnell artists and outside artists in their gallery shows.

The new exhibit at the Stewart Gallery features two local artists. Photo by Sarina Lincoln.

“Local artists need a space to show, and we love to provide that venue. We also tend to get a much better turnout for local shows. The community here is very supportive. At the same time, it’s important for us to see what else is happening out there. As they say, nothing is created in a vacuum.”

The mission of the Grinnell Area Arts Council is to support the creative expression of Grinnell community members. To this end, the Council has run shows by Grinnell artists and outside artists for over a quarter century at the Stewart Gallery, which is located in the historic Stewart Library. The Gallery used to be located in the community center that is now the Hotel Grinnell, but moved to its current location at 926 Broad St., the Stewart Library building, in 2009.

“As we’ve settled into this building (now just called the Arts Center), Stewart Gallery has been sort of a gateway for us,” Jarvis wrote. “The gallery is really our only public ‘programming’ that happens during business hours, so people drop in to see the gallery show, and then find out about other events at the Arts Council.”

The Arts Council is putting on multiple such events in the next couple of weeks. The first is the Local Artist Market on Nov. 17 through 18, at which artists and artisans from the greater Grinnell area will be selling their work. Nov. 17 is also Grinnell’s annual “Jingle Bell Holiday,” at which downtown Grinnell will be “hopping with shopping” — the slogan of the event. As a part of the Jingle Bell Holiday, the Arts Council is hosting musical performances by the Grinnell Children’s Choir and the Too Many String Band in addition to serving cocoa and hot cider.

“We’ll also have an Empty Bowl Fundraiser, where people can buy a bowl made by local ceramic artists, and fill it with home-made soup,” Jarvis wrote. All proceeds from the fundraiser will go to the Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA) food bank.

Be sure to add all of these events to your November calendar, starting with “Art for Dark Places, Art for Light Places” at the Stewart Gallery.

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