Q: What is the mission of the Nobles County Art Center?
A: Its mission is to promote the arts in Nobles County. We do this in a variety of ways: host art shows with art openings complete with refreshments and an artist’s talk followed by a question and answer session; hold art classes in different media, such as painting, drawing, printmaking (with a pasta press, no less!) watercolor, mosaic, collage, etc.; hang art in locations for the public to enjoy (Memorial Auditorium, Nobles County Administration Building and, of course, the Nobles County Art Center); host the Art Club with monthly meetings to share our creative endeavors; and collaborate with different Nobles County and Worthington city entities on projects.
Q: What kind of art shows are typically featured?
A: The Nobles County Art Center strives to feature artists from all cultures, and to incorporate a variety of styles — such as representational art as well as abstract art and the many styles that fall in between — and artists that work in a variety of mediums such as printmaking, ceramics, sculpture, painting, drawing, fabric arts, photography etc.
We highlight emerging artists as well as professionals in our annual Nobles County Area Art Show that is exclusively for artists within a 100-mile radius.
One of our favorite shows is the annual Worthington District 518 Student Art Show. The art teachers do an excellent job in selecting the art for this show and we are always amazed at the quality of the student art, the creativity of the student art, and the different art mediums and styles that are represented.
Q. What goes into planning the different shows?
A: We have a master calendar that we fill in, usually a year in advance, and deciding who is going to show their works of art is the first step in the planning process. It goes on from there — gathering information from the artist (resume, bio, photographs of their art), sending out PR information and postcards to members of the Nobles County Art Center, contacting The Globe and such. Part of the fun is meeting the artist and hanging the show in preparation for the art opening. We make a concerted effort to make sure we have a variety of styles, ages, cultures and mediums represented throughout each year.
Q: Given the COVID-19 pandemic, how has the Art Center adapted?
A: The Nobles County Art Center is currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we are still active and looking forward to the time when we can return to in-person classes and art openings with lots of people viewing the art in the gallery.
In the meantime, the Art Center is holding virtual art shows and art projects that are posted on the Nobles County Art Center Facebook page. The first virtual show was the “Artisans Road Trip,” which featured artists from Iowa. Following that we featured a show, “Saturday Painters,” that showcased three artists from New York. The next virtual show will be the Holiday Show — you may do your shopping online and will be able to choose from hand-crafted art gifts.
Within three weeks of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we started at-home art projects. I post a theme with instructions and a deadline and people send their completed art projects for me to post on a given date. The results are exciting and show off our local talent and also the talent of some long-distance participants.
As the gallery space is open, we are currently updating and reorganizing the 595 works of art that comprise our permanent collection. Everything came out of the storage closets and will be returned in order with complete information.
Because we know how stress-relieving art can be during difficult times, the Art Center has started giving away art supply bags to members of local children’s organizations. This project is funded by The Worthington Area Foundation, and from donations to the Art Center.
Q: How long have you been at the Art Center and what keeps you there?
A: When I started my teaching career at Worthington High School, my co-worker at the time, Lorna James, invited me to be on the Board of Directors at the Art Center and I have been on it ever since. This was in 1984! Martin and Jean Bunge were the co-directors at this time and continued until Martin’s death in 2014. For a time, Jean and I co-directed the Art Center until her retirement in 2016.
What keeps me there is my love of art and wanting to share the joy of the creative experience with everyone. The people — my co-worker Adrienne Herbert, the board of directors, the artists I meet, the volunteers, the art club members and anyone I cross paths with because of the Art Center — are also what keeps me there.