Cafe at Prairie Lights

  • nAMUH: Selected Drawings from Chapters 2 and 3

    An exhibition by Ryan Bentzinger
    On view October 5 - November 8, 2015

    Please join us for an exhibition receptionon on Saturday, November 7th from 6 - 8 PM!

    About the Exhibition

    nAMUH is an imaginative story featuring 197 original works on paper by Iowa-City based artist Ryan Bentzinger. These drawings are part of the artists’ newly finished fine art novel. nAMUH, Book 1, will be self-published by the artist, and will be available at local stores by the winter of 2015-16.

    This fine art novel explores a post-apocalyptic world full of mysteries and tales of hardship. Showcasing 13 works on paper from Chapters 2 and 3, a fellowship of characters unite and embark on their joint quest to find answers regarding the chaotic world in which they live. Why are children going missing? What are these rumors about robots living on the islands?

    About the Artist

    Ryan Bentzinger is a teaching artist based out of Iowa City. He graduated with a BA in Studio Art with Honors in Education from the University of Iowa in 2011. He has exhibited nationally and internationally and has work in the permanent collections of the Santiago Museum of Contemporary Art and the University Museums of the Iowa State University. Ryan has been the assistant to Chunghi Choo for the last five years and has been teaching Art at Willowwind School since 2012.

    When he is not drawing, painting, and writing, he enjoys traveling, teaching, and advocating for the arts. Inspired by imaginative stories and societal phenomena, he continues to work toward his life-long goals of getting his Dwarf Ranger to level 20 in Pathfinder and becoming a Pokemon master.

    For more information about the artist, please visit:

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

  • IWP Writers

    An exhibition of portraits by Thomas Langdon
    On view August 31 - October 4, 2015

    Please join us for an exhibition reception at Prairie Lights Cafe
    on Sunday, September 20th from 5-6 PM (right after the IWP Reading)!

    Artists Statement

    “I began photographing visiting writers of the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program in 2002.  The idea developed while photographing for the book cover of Edward Carey’s (IWP 2002) novel Alva and Irva.  Since then I have photographed over 200 writers and I look forward to meeting and photographing them every fall.  They have very strong presences.  Some have been through difficult ordeals including imprisonment, national conflicts or exile.  There is a richness, a maturity in their faces, glances and gestures that are very telling.  It is the writer that provides the portrait. I am simply there to respond briefly with my camera and the existing light. Thank you to Christopher Merrill, Hugh Ferrer and the staff of the IWP for graciously granting me access to the writers and IWP events.”

    About the Artist

    Thomas Langdon has four decades of experience as a photographer.  He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in photography and sculpture and a Master of Arts degree in anthropology.  An on-going personal project is portraiture of writers from the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program (IWP).  A selection of thirty-five writer portraits are installed as a permanent exhibition in the reception areas of the University of Iowa’s Health Care Iowa River Landing facility.  His writer portraits have been frequently exhibited and also used on numerous book jackets and in international publications. He has been the recipient of grants from the National Endowment of the Arts and the Iowa Arts Council for photography exhibitions in public and social spaces.  Langdon travels internationally to photograph, most frequently to the Mexican states of Chiapas, Oaxaca and Michocán and in 2013 traveled to South Sudan as a visiting lecturer with sponsorship by the State Department and the IWP.  He lives in rural Johnson County, Iowa.

    For more information, please visit the artist’s website at:

    For sale inquiries or to make purchases, please contact



  • Manifest Destitution

    An exhibition of photography by Scott Christian Hage

    On view from August 3 - 30, 2015.
    Please join us for a reception on August 28th from 6-8 PM!

    Our country’s history of westward expansion and the epic tale of “how the west was won” is quite a story. It is a story filled with romantic notions all at once of honor and adventure, of conquest and valor, of sacrifice and betrayal. It is a story of an unforgiving land, with wagon trains and railroads, cowboys and native-americans, soldiers and federales, lawmen and gamblers, gunfights and gold.

    Roughly 2/3 of the 48 contiguous United States, the entirety of the land that lies west of the Mississippi River, was acquired in the first half of the 19th century one of four ways: via purchase from a foreign country (lands of the Louisiana Purchase, from France in 1803, as well as the Gadsden Purchase, from Mexico in 1853), via the conditions of treaty with a foreign country (lands of the Oregon Territory, from Great Britain in 1848), via annexation (U. S. annexation of the Republic of Texas, in 1845), or via the spoils of war (lands of the Mexican Cession stated in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, following the Mexican- American War of 1848). The acquisition of these lands collectively define the borders of the contiguous United States as they are today.

    During this era of western expansionism, John L. Sullivan, a New York journalist arguing in favor of annexation by the U. S. of the Republic of Texas in 1845, introduced the term of “manifest destiny” into the American lexicon. Within this ideology, he described a divine right the American people possessed “to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the development of the great experiment of liberty and federated self- government entrusted to us,” to ride the waves of civilization from sea to shining sea.

    “Manifest destiny” and the subsequent progress of a new world seemed to be inevitable, and its ideology would provide a rhetorical tone for the justification of this progress. What bureaucrats soon found out, however, was that ownership of these lands was one thing, re-appropriating these lands that had been home to several tribes of native- americans for many centuries was quite another. While the westward expansion of ownership spanned the duration of the first half of the 19th century, the eviction and relocation of the previous tenants would extend the better part of the second half, as the indian wars would finally conclude in 1886 with the surrender of Geronimo at Skeleton Canyon. “Manifest destiny” would itself come to its full realization with the ratification of statehood on February 14, 1912 of Arizona, the 48th state of the union.

    Now, more than a century has passed, and the land of the west has gradually morphed into a caricature of itself and its history...destitute of the romantic notions that were once so prevalent to its disposition. The divine providence guiding the very “manifest destiny” so often spoken of in the many years past has seemingly gone missing, perhaps to offer its services to other more worthwhile pursuits, lending uncertainty to what is left in and of the modern landscape. The land itself appears to exude a repentance for the terrible price that had been paid for it...and speaks of a contented dormancy it will begrudgingly awaken from when the next epoch arrives.

    If it ever arrives.

    About the artist:

    Scott Christian Hage is a photographer from Muscatine, IA, and currently resides in Iowa City, IA. Scott is a student of the School of Art and Art History at the University of Iowa, pursuing his B.F.A. in graphic design and photography.  He currently works as the graphic designer for the University of Iowa Museum of Art and also works as a freelance photographer and graphic designer.

    For more information, please visit the artist’s website at

    For sale inquiries or to make purchases, please contact

  • Seeing the Unseen

    An exhibition by Christopher Forsythe
    On view June 29 - August 2, 2015

    Exhibition Statement

    Sight is one of the senses humans use to perceiving the world. It helps us navigate our environment, find safety and avoid danger. Sight can be used to accurately render a drawing or to recognize nuance in a form. It can also be used in more dynamic ways to parse the complicated social systems and customs that build our societies.

    Despite all that we can see, we are inundated with what we cannot.This inability to see can be categorized into two groups: items which possess characteristics that are beyond our eye’s physical capacity of perception (e.g. microscopic objects, energy, etc.) and items whose exact presence goes unnoticed due to our mind’s conditioning from repeated exposure (e.g. glass in a window frame or halftone dots that form a printed picture).

    Through the use of special instruments or awareness raising techniques these invisible objects can be brought to light.Artists and their art have often played important roles in society by revealing things that go unnoticed and making them plain to see for all. These revelations can be as simple as capturing the beauty of a natural landscape

    or as controversial as portraying the impact of religion, gender or oppression in our communities.

    My most recent set of prints investigate “seeing the unseen” by meditating on the minutiae and microscopic organisms that permeate our surroundings yet escape our attention. By utilizing handmade paper’s tactile qualities, juxtaposing seemingly dissimilar objects and the use of bold and often times unnatural color, I have attempted to create a space where items of different scales can exist side by side so we can revel in their wonder, discover visual similarities between objects and plainly see them with our own eyes.

    The source material for this set of prints comes from science literature and printing history. I have always found science to be a fascinating subject. Photographs of natural phenomena, the cosmos, and the microscopic have always been of interest to me. The printing trades and their history are an equally rich subject. Registration marks, star targets, and methods of conveying tone all make their way into my prints. I enjoy how both sources, however disparate, are so unfamiliar when viewed up close that they read less like physical objects and more like abstract compositions.The items I have chosen to feature in my prints are largely symbolic of the greater theme of seeing. Atoms, bacteria, and fibers are all things that cannot be seen with our unaided eyes. Printers’ marks are used to reveal minute changes in the performance of printing presses. And halftones, line engravings and bitmaps are all graphic methods for creating the illusion of continuous tone. While the halftone marks are small, they usually are still clearly visible to the naked eye, yet we have been trained to look past these marks to mentally build the image they are meant to construct.The way in which the halftones dots interact and overlap one another are strikingly similar to the atomic structure of various minerals or the chaotic proliferation of microorganisms.When looking into the center of these arrangements, elements appear and disappear within the amalgamation; it is difficult not to imagine a hidden universe within these systematic patterns.

    About the Artist

    With an abiding interest in the book arts and design, Christopher (Chuck) Forsythe has immersed himself in all things printing since earning a B.A in Studio Art from Colorado College in 2003. He has served as coordinator and printer at The Press at Colorado College, a fine book publisher; as a letterpress printer at the Minneapolis- based design and print workspace, Studio on Fire; and as a bookbinder at Bookmobile, a digital print on demand bindery. In addition Chuck has been a member of the High Point Center for Printmaking cooperative; The Minnesota Center for the Book; and the Minneapolis based bibliographic society,The Ampersand Club. In 2012 Chuck earned his MFA in printmaking from the University of Iowa where he currently serves as the Instructional Service Specialist for the Printmaking Area. Chuck makes his home in south Iowa City where he lives with wife and son.

    For sale inquiries, please contact contact Sarika Sugla, Gallery Curator, via email at

    Copyright is reserved by the artist.