Cafe at Prairie Lights


    An Exhibition by Amanda Lechner
    On view from May 30 - June 26, 2016

    Please join us for an exhibition reception on
    Friday, June 17th from 6 - 8 PM at the cafe!

    Artist’s Statement:

    My interest and research into planetary science often finds adaptation in my paintings and drawings. Over the last several months I have made scores of small drawings with ink and paint that began as supplements to my paintings but have become a distinct body of work. These drawings are improvisational and exploratory, often the subject presents itself through the process of drawing. Gestures, story-lines or patterns emerge expanding sometimes from an initial mark or shape, other times from text. Themes relating to space travel, philosophy,  land, planetary research and meta-physics came to the forefront in this drawing series.

    I first learned about the idea of terrestrial analog field testing and research while speaking with a geologist at the University of Iowa. Her research into volcanos and earth strata evolved to have practical applications for climate study and Mars research. Through the study of sites on Earth, especially in remote and extreme environments, scientists are learning about the possible make-up of planets, moons, and stars outside our own celestial neighborhood. Inversely an Earth analog is another planet or moon with conditions comparable to aspects of our planet over time in terms of size, geology, atmosphere and relative temperature. The interest in Earth analogs has been a mainstay in science, philosophy and science fiction narratives. The search for familiarity among the stars could have implications for re-habitation and colonization or communication with life forms more-or-less like ourselves. Every day we are learning more about our planetary neighbors; Mars may have been closely similar to Earth at a different point in deep time. The most likely Earth analog outside our solar system is “Kepler-438b” a planet 12 light-years away that orbits a red dwarf star and may harbor temperature and geologic conditions similar to Earth.

    I have selected and arranged 45 drawings that have narrative and visual linkages to the idea of the Planetary Analog.

    About the Artist:

    Amanda Lechner is a visual artist based in New Mexico and Iowa.

    Amanda Lechner's studio practice primarily revolves around drawing and painting. Her current egg tempera paintings, images that are at once captivating and anomalous embody a quest for narrative alternatives. Lechner’s work has been exhibited throughout the United States.

    Lechner studied painting at the Kansas City Art Institute where she was awarded a BFA with Honors in 2003 and at the Rhode Island School of Design where she received her MFA in 2005. Upon completing her education, she moved to Brooklyn, NY and has divided her time between Santa fe and Iowa City since 2014. She has been a lecturer at SUNY Purchase College - School of Art + Design and a Visiting Assistant Professor of Painting and Drawing at the the University of Iowa.

    As a current NASA - JPL Solar System Ambassador Volunteer Lechner is creating programming that bridges Art and Science to raise awareness about our Solar System.

    For more information about the artist, please visit:

    For sale inquries or to make purchases, please contact:
    Lauren Frances Evans, Gallery Curator, at


    An Exhibition by John Engelbrecht
    On view from March 28 - May 29, 2016

    Please join us for an exhibition reception with the artist
    on Friday, May 20th from 5-6:30 PM at the cafe!

    Artist’s Statement:

    In 2003, I began collecting my life in the object of candid photographs, in a series called Memory into Mythology. Through adherence to simple constraints (film, camera, and specific composition rules) and a daily dedication to the process, my photo practice began to shape into a language of its own. Words and drawings entered and added their symbology to the pictures. The family photo album took on an expanded form less about the memory of things, people, and events than a personal mythology rearranged and fictionalized outside the flow of time.

    Dream of the Silver Disc is the current chapter of the larger project, a remixed return. The title comes from a piece of automatic writing encapsulated early in the series, a poetic notion that I could not explain then and would dare not attempt to describe here, other than to say: I think of the silver disc as both a spinning, shimmering hard drive, a platter of filed fictions in the form of jpegs in dialogue with that romantic, if fictional, orb of light that hovers somewhere between the lens, eyes, and heart.

    About the Artist:

    John Engelbrecht is Director of the alternative arts venue Public Space One and an adjunct photography instructor at several institutions in the Iowa City area. He received his MFA from Iowa in 2009 and has shown his work nationally and internationally as well as been a strong advocate for homegrown art in eastern Iowa.

    For more information about the artist, please visit:

    For sale inquries or to make purchases, please contact:
    Gallery Curator, at


    An Exhibition by Jason Reno

    On view from February 1 - March 27, 2016

    Please join us for an exhibition reception with the artist
    on Friday, February 5th  from 6-8 PM at the cafe!

    Artist's Exhibition Statement

    The drawings, paintings and sculptures that comprise Something Came Up are reflections upon and responses to everyday experience. Interactions with nature and weathering processes become metaphors for human experience.

    Materials are shaped by hand, machine, weather, and other creatures. The dowsing or divining rod is used as a symbol for search, discovery, and movement through landscape. Leaverites or glacial erratics (massive boulders transported and deposited by glaciers) reference movement and shaping of landscape. They are unexpected, strange, and have a deep sense of time. Elements of chance and limited control provide discoveries. Frost, as well as maggots, present in decaying walnut husks form lines in walnut dye drawings. Softer wood grain is removed by the exacerbated weathering process of sandblasting to find another form within a common piece of wood. Windshield wiper tracks and avalanche control barriers become symbols of resilience and limited control. 

    The work is an avenue for listening, processing, engaging with materials and inhabiting environments.

    About the Artist

    Jason Reno lives and works in Iowa City. Since receiving his MA and MFA in Sculpture from the University of Iowa in 2015 he has worked primarily as an artist assistant to David Dunlap.

    For more information about the artist, please visit:

    For sale inquries or to make purchases, please contact:
    Sarika Sugla, Gallery Curator, at

  • How Beautiful is thy Dwelling

    An Exhibition by Kate Allen
    On view from December 14, 2015  - January 31, 2016

    Please join us for an exhibition reception with the artist
    on Saturday, January 30th from 6-8 PM at the cafe!

    Artist's Exhibition Statement:

    Since I was a child I have had the habit of holding onto memories. I would try so hard to hold onto the good ones and relive them in my mind, only to have them fade too quickly. Conversely, I would try desperately hard to forget the difficult memories only to have them become more and more vivid in my mind.

    My memories of bad experiences haunt me and keep me from moving on. I dwell on them all the time, and wish I could go back and change them, or at least move on. I find myself getting angry about events that happened years ago. I must be a masochist because I revisit objects or old diaries that remind me about these events for no reason other than to see what? Perhaps to see what I wrote, or remember how I felt, maybe even to put myself back into painful experiences?

    I was talking with my husband a couple years ago, talking again about something that was still bothering me from my past, he suggested I try putting these disconcerting experiences into my work - to use this work as a way to finally realize these events and then put them away and move on.

    In brainstorming I found the best way to carry out the idea was to use the still life as a vehicle for representing my struggle. I believe the tradition of the Still Life as a symbolic medium allowed me to communicate difficult moments in my life without literally recreating them. My photographs became a code for my memories involving sexual assault, broken relationships, regrets, insults, personal threats, loss, betrayal, natural disasters, and physical pain. I liked this idea, because a lot of my past work has dealt with viewers being able to bring their own experiences to the photographs and come up with their own read without me spelling out exactly what is going on.

    I want to take these hard memories and create something beautiful from them. I want to turn them from ugly memories into something less frightening, even into comforting moments, like the good memories that we all try so desperately to hold onto.

    To create beauty from my dwelling.

    Most people will experience one or more of these events in their lifetime and just as my images have brought me a sense of “letting go” and “moving on” I am hoping that perhaps they might also reach out to someone else. Whether their damage is similar to mine or completely different, perhaps they can find answers in themselves or simply appreciate how beauty and order can emerge from something horrible.

    About the Artist

    Kate grew up in Japan, Okinawa, Colorado, and Korea as a daughter of an Air Force Officer. She holds an MFA in Photography from the University of Iowa and a Graduate Certificate in Book Arts from the University of Iowa Center for the Book. Her work has been shown in galleries around the United States and abroad.

    My photography explores the hidden beauty found in non-traditional environments. The photos are generally given without reference or context, allowing the viewer to create his/her own narrative.

    For more information about the artist, please visit:

    For sale inquries or to make purchases, please contact:
    Sarika Sugla, Gallery Curator, at