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Charles City Arts Council to hold annual meeting Thursday

Charles City Arts Council to hold annual meeting Thursday
The Charles City Arts Center (Photo submitted)
By James Grob,

The Charles City Arts Council will hold its annual meeting at the Pub on the Cedar on Thursday, with a social hour at 5 p.m. followed by the formal meeting at 6 p.m. All members and affiliates are welcome and encouraged to attend. Pizza and a free drink are included during the social hour.

The Charles City Arts Council has been in existence for nearly 60 years and is one of the oldest in Iowa. It is the parent organization of the Charles City Singers, the Charles City Chamber Orchestra, the Stony Point Players and the Charles City Youth Theatre, among other affiliates. It also owns the Charles Theater, and has sponsored Charles City’s Annual Artafest celebration for over 45 years.

The Charles City Arts Council states its mission is to “encourage and advance the understanding and appreciation of the arts and to help create an environment in which the arts and artists may flourish.”

The art council’s home is the Charles City Arts Center, located in the historic Carnagie Library building in downtown Charles City. Andrew Carnegie built 2,509 libraries in the USA, and another thousand in New Zealand. The children of Charles City in 1904 raised the money for the CCAC’s stained-glass windows.

Operational funding for the CCAC is provided by memberships, grants, private donations and a small endowment fund.

The CCAC offers art classes at various times throughout the year, and displays the work of featured artists nine months out of the year. It also brings in the Charles City High School artists to take over the Arts Center for the month of April.

The center has announced its space is now available for rent for receptions. 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.

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 CCAC Holiday Art Market is held in both November and December each year, and includes items from artists and crafters from all over the state.

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. The featured October display was the work of Charles City’s Patchwork Pals Quilt Guild.

Earlier in the year, 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 first Artafest was five years after the infamous 1968 tornado hit Charles City, and it lasted five days. The first event was located at a house and barn just outside of town. The house was used as the gallery and the barn was also a theater, utilized by the Stony Point Players theater group.

Since then, the event has been located at several parks and other locations throughout Charles City. Artafest had been in Central Park for about 30 years. This past August, the event merged with the Floyd County Historical Museum’s Pioneer Day and became known as Art and Heritage Fest. It was held at at Andres Park, right next to the Floyd County Historical Museum.

The Stony Point Players have been a community theater group in Charles City since the 1960s. Recent summer productions have included “The Wizard of Oz” in 2018 and “Spamalot” this past summer. The group will announce it’s 2020 summer musical production later this month.

The Charles City Youth Theatre is made up of kids in third through eighth grade and has put on a the Charles Theatre every year since 2000. This year’s production was “The King’s Calendar.”

The Charles City Chamber Orchestra has about 12-15 volunteer members, with winds, brass and percussion. The chamber orchestra season runs from September through March, with two concerts per year, one before Christmas and one near Easter Sunday, among other smaller events. For the last two years, the orchestra has performed concerts in collaboration with The Charles City Singers, who are in their 45th season and also typically put on two concerts per year.

The Charles Theatre, which was built in 1935, is one of only two theaters remaining in Iowa with an art-deco facade, and is the only one still operating. The theater is run by volunteer efforts. First-run movies can be seen nightly at 7 p.m., with matinees for children’s movies Sundays at 1:30 p.m. The theater also occasionally runs classic movies and other special movie events, and is sometimes used as a venue for live music.