Prairie Lights

Cafe at Prairie Lights

  • Let's All Be Friends: A University of Iowa Printmaking Department Portfolio Exchange

    Exhibition curated by Amanda Maciuba and Mary F. Coats

    June 1-29


    Friday, June 13th @ The Times Club at Prairie Lights Café, 6:30-8:30PM


    Let’s all be Friends is a department wide portfolio exchange that celebrates the community aspect inherent in print media. It is intended to foster communication, dialogue and friendship among a diverse group of artists. Experimentation and non-traditional printmaking methods were encouraged along with traditional printmaking practices. As the participants of this portfolio all currently work in the same shop and were operating under the same deadline the exchange became an excellent opportunity to discuss and create new work together. It gave the department the opportunity to share ideas and processes between undergraduate students, graduate students, visiting faculty and tenured professors, and ultimately, the larger printmaking community.

    Direct all inquiries to the Prairie Lights Café curator:

    Mary F. Coats

    Ph: 978.496.6916 | email:

  • Nowadays: Works by Gaia Nardie-Warner

    April 27-June 1

    Closing reception:
    Times Club at Prairie Lights Cafe, Friday, May 23rd, 6:30-8:30pm

    Gaia Nardie-Warner was born in Charlottesville, VA in 1984. She has a MFA in painting and printmaking from Boston University (Boston, MA). Nardie-Warner has shown her work at Backspace Projects (Peoria, IL), Brooklyn Fire Proof East, Public Space One (IA), The Plaines Project, Hamill Gallery of African Art, The BOX, and 808 Gallery. Brian Prugh published a review of her work in the Little Village.  Nardie-Warner is included in the edition of New American Paintings Vol. 107. Recently, she received honorable mention for the 6th Annual Dave Bown Projects Competition. Gaia has attended national and international residencies and will participate in the Vermont Studio Center’s residency program coming year. Upcoming she will be in the June edition of Forget Good. She lives and works in Chicago, IL.

    Tantra: indulgence with awareness, vision without judgment, observant not evaluative. I paint along this continuum. Unwedded to mere media indulgence, these works come from an engagement with the materiality of paint and the complexity of the expressive mark. My paintings enter into a dialogue beyond their powers to represent. Using smears, scratches, scrapes and copious amounts of paint, I compose visual interrogatories of cultural minutia: metallic flashes, fake eyelashes, yoga mats, coconut water, glossy magazines, platinum blonde hair, gold hoops, turquoise, worn leather, furs, and painted nails. Such cultural signifiers dictate my mark as I paint to transform culture while maintaining true to its basis. These paintings confront and expose cultural socio-political connotations that are closeted by such little details. My challenge to culture displaces the framework of its associations onto the multifaceted language of gestural abstraction. Cultural identifiers are the portals by which we may gain insight into our own personal and societal secrets. Their investigation sustains my interest in Guatemalan textiles, prayer rugs, kivas, Navajo sand paintings, mandalas, Shibori, Haitian voodoo dolls, Butoh, and Berber rugs. With paint, I enervate what at first sight, seems most lifeless.

    For any inquiries, please contact the exhibition curator:
    Mary F. Coats

  • Water and Stone

    Jeff Robinson and Michael Rutherford
    January30th-March 3rd
    Reception: Saturday, Feb 2 (7-9pm)
    Artist Talk: 8pm

    In the book, What Painting Is, James Elkins defines painting as a combination of two
    ingredients: water (medium) and stone (pigment). The action of painting is a process
    of negotiating the two. Water and Stone presents two artists whose work necessitates
    material functions. Abandoning the image, these works make visible the central role of
    color and substance in producing sensation. In Michael Rutherford’s work, the support
    on which the paint is applied performs as a prominent character in the piece, asserting
    equality between a colored shape and the curl of the paper. Jeff Robinson’s work organizes
    relationships between paint and non-paint; requiring the viewer to consider the difference
    between the canonical art material and the detritus of human consumption.

    Jeff Robinson received his MFA in painting from Illinois State University in 2011. In addition to
    his studio practice, Jeff teaches full-time as an Instructor of Art and Visiual Arts Gallery Director
    at the University of Illinois Springfield.

    Michael Rutherford is the creator and editor of Painter’s and its companion site,
    Postmodern Toaster. He was born and raised in Iowa and was introduced to art while working
    as a guard at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. In 1999, he graduated from Buena Vista
    University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree.

    Mechanical Trope, wood, mixed media, $1000.00 (Robinson)
    Exclamatory Painting, acrylic on canvas, $550.00 (Rutherford)
    Upshot Shimmer, acrylic on canvas strips with staples, $300.00 (Rutherford)
    Scrapped Red with Yellow Dogleg Painting, acrylic on canvas scraps, $300.00 (Rutherford)
    Hang Nothing, acrylic on canvas swaths, $300.00 (Rutherford)
    End Sheet, acrylic on canvas swaths, $300.00 (Rutherford)
    Subtle Radiance, mixed media, $750.00 (Robinson)
    Green Totem, mixed media, $500.00 (Robinson)
    Skips, Pops, and Scratches, acrylic on canvas, $1200.00 (Rutherford)
    Follow the Leader (top), mixed media, $750.00 (Robinson)
    Versed in Light #5 (bottom), mixed media, $500.00 (Robinson)

    Please direct all inquiries to: Mary Laube (curator) Ph: 847.602.3782 | email:

  • When I Was Your Age

    December 2012 - Reception: Friday December 7th 8-10 pm

    Storytelling as collaborative knowledge making
    Storytelling is a fundamental source of knowledge and agency. To tell a story is to remember, contemplate, question, interpret, and ultimately voice a particular history. When I was Your Age is a collaborative project that uses storytelling to explore the relationship between artists and their elders. Participating artists asked their mother, grandmother, or like-figure to share a story from their past. Each pair constructed a piece of text reflecting the life of the elder when she was the age of the artist. Each artist created a visual response to complete the piece. The following pages present a dialogue between generations, where the residue of the past is deeply felt in the present and maintained by one’s willing imagination.

    Mary Coats and Shari Coats
    Zoe Hawk and Phyllis Hawk
    Elizabeth Davenport and Paul Davenport Jr.
    Cheryl Robinson and Maryjane Robinson
    Andrea Dejong and Margaret Dejong
    Jared Wittenmyer and Ruth Wittenmyer
    Sarah Smith and Kathi Smith
    Danielle Kimzey and Jean Alys Lindow Huey
    Mary Laube and Edmund Laube

    Please direct all inquiries to:
    Mary Laube (curator)
    Ph: 847.602.3782 | email: