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Charles City Arts Center evolves, adds new co-director

  • Jacqueline Davidson and Emily Kiewel are now co-directors at the Charles City Arts Center. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • Jacqueline Davidson and Emily Kiewel are now co-directors at the Charles City Arts Center. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • The Charles City Arts Center is open from 1-5 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays and 10-2 p.m. on Saturdays. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • The Charles City Arts Center is open from 1-5 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays and 10-2 p.m. on Saturdays. (Press photo James Grob.)

By James Grob,

As the Charles City Arts Center continues to expand its community services, CCAC Director Jacqueline Davidson is getting some help running things.

Local artist Emily Kiewel begins her term as CCAC co-director this month, giving Davidson a bit of a rest. Kiewel will act as director for the next six months, then Davidson will return to the position in April.

Kiewel, a professional potter, has been involved with the Arts Center for several years and, according to Davidson, is more in tune with the “techie stuff,” such as improving the CCAC’s website and online presence.

“We’re trying to get younger people involved with the center, but we don’t want to ignore our older patrons, so we thought the best idea would be to split it,” said Davidson, who has been serving as director for the past few years.

Kiewel has been running her own pottery business for more than 20 years, and has experience with online sales, management and marketing.

“I’m looking forward to it,” she said. “I’m very excited about it, I think it will be a very good change.”

Kiewel, originally from Clear Lake, moved to Charles City in 2008.

“When I first moved here, I just wandered into a reception at the Arts Center and I immediately felt at home,” she said. “That was one of the reasons I knew I was going to be happy in Charles City. I’ve felt like I’ve had a home here right from the start.”

Kiewel studied pottery in Japan, where she said she learned some “really traditional methods.”

“My teacher was a third-generation production potter, making tableware for everyday use,” Kiewel said. “He taught me techniques that have been used for 2,000 years. That was really my most formative training with pottery, and it’s been my business and my job for the last 20 years.”

Kiewel takes the reigns as director at a time the CCAC is expanding its services. The arts center has announced its space is now available for receptions, at a cost of $50 during the facility’s regular hours and $150 after hours.

Anyone interested can contact Kiewel or Davidson at the CCAC for more details.

“I like the idea that we are now renting the facilities for receptions and showers,” said Davidson. “If you’re having something under 35 people, and you get a big room, it feels cold. This place never feels cold. It’s warm and opening, and there is always fantastic art.”

This comes on the heels of the CCAC establishing a “quiet room” for patrons. The art center’s library room is now available for a quiet place to study, write a book, explore your ancestors, or just relax.

The room is now equipped with a computer and a printer, and people will be allowed to use both. It also contains a few art supplies so people can go in and sit and sketch, and a library, so a person can just go in there and read.

The room is free to arts council members and just $5 for non-members.

The CCAC is also offering two classes starting in October. An interactive six-week clay pottery class will be taught by Kiewel and local pottery artist Barbara Thomsen. The two-hour classes begin Oct. 19.

Another art class, for children in kindergarten through fifth grade, will be taught by Robin Kruger, a retired art teacher from Charles City. That class will be on Thursdays after school and is offered year round, at a cost of $35 per month.

This past summer, the CCAC started hosting poetry evenings, on the second Wednesday of every month, for individuals of all ages to share their own poetry, the poetry of a favorite writer, or any other prose one feels needs to be heard. The next poetry night will be Oct. 9, starting at 7 p.m.

Still in the planning stages is a lecture series in the spring presented by Kurt Meyer. Meyer is president of Humanities Iowa, which is Iowa’s affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The four-series program will include “A Collection Reflection: An art collector shares thoughts on his pursuit,” “Four Favorites: Four works of art interpreted,” “A Powerful Connection: Thoughts, emotions and reactions triggered by art,” and “A Good Eye: Developing greater sensitivity and appreciation for the visual arts.”

The annual CCAC Holiday Art Market is also coming up, with receptions in both November and December.

Davidson said the CCAC “becomes a galleria of Christmas and holiday gifts.” It includes items from artists and crafters from all over the state, including artwork, handmade soaps, fresh herbs and spices, greeting cards and Christmas wreaths.

The CCAC displays the work of featured artists nine months out of the year. The featured October display is the work of Charles City’s Patchwork Pals Quilt Guild, with the reception starting at 5 p.m. Friday at the CCAC.

Previous featured artists this past year have included “A Spiritual Group of Five,” which was an art collaboration by Des Moines area artists Jan Davison, Judy Sebern Beachy, Renee Watkins, Carolyn Larson and Beth Hirst; and an exhibit entitled, “Close at Hand, Works by Women Artists,” featuring Meyer’s private collection of famous female artists of the 20th century.

Earlier in the season, the CCAC featured “Finished/Unfinished 2.0; Art as an Art Teacher,” which included a variety of work by New Hampton High School art teacher Melissa Nelson; the work of ceramic artists James Kerns and William Mateer entitled “From This Comes This, Pottery by James Kerns and William Mateer;” the quilt and fiber work of Mary Nordeng; the artwork of Charles City High School artists; and “Moments of Wonder,” an exhibit of paintings and mixed media work by artist Autumn Rozario Hall.

The CCAC building started its days as a library. Andrew Carnegie built 2,509 libraries in the USA, and another thousand in New Zealand, and the CCAC was a Carnegie Library. The children of Charles City in 1904 raised the money for the CCAC’s stained glass windows.

“The door is open and you are welcome here,” Davidson said.

The CCAC is open from 1-5 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays and 10-2 p.m. on Saturdays.

“I would love for people to come in and meet me and say hello,” Kiewel said. “If they have any concerns or issues or projects, I’d love to hear about them.”