Cafe at Prairie Lights

  • Hartmut Austen, 'Figur'

    Hartmut Austen was born in Lüdenscheid, Germany, and received his Meisterschüler-degree from Hochschule der Künste (University of the Arts) Berlin. He also studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Austen has been a fellow of the Kresge Arts in Detroit Fellowship program and the Grant Wood Fellow for Painting and Drawing at the University of Iowa School of Art and Art History in 2012/13.  

    Austen’s work has been included in group shows, most recently “Lost and Found: Belief and Doubt in Contemporary Pictures” at Passenger Project Space in Detroit and “Opening Lines: Telegraph in Berlin” at Milchhof Pavilion in Berlin. He has had one-person exhibitions at The Butchers Daughter Gallery in Detroit earlier this year; Paul Kotula Projects in Ferndale, Michigan, in 2009; and at Sasaki Associates in Watertown, Massachusetts, in 2011. Austen is an Assistant Professor for Painting and Drawing at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.

    More information about Austen's work is available at

  • Electric Beach

    New Works by Matt Kellstadt

    August 4 – September 7

    Opening Reception

    Friday, August 15 | 6:30 – 8:30 PM

    The Times Club at Prairie Lights Café

    About the Artist

    Thad Kellstadt is a multi-disciplinary artist working in painting, sculpture, video, and sound. His recent work is inspired by abstraction and psychedelia and uses both formal restrictions and chance operations to create imaginary spaces that play with ideas of perception. He has shown nationally and internationally at a variety of venues including Space 1026, Philadelphia, PA; Secret Project Robot, New York City, NY; Heaven Gallery, Chicago, IL; Alice Gallery, Brussels; Cell Project Space, London; SPACE, Pittsburgh, PA; and a shuttered McDonalds. Originally from Ohio, he lives and works in Iowa City, IA.


    Electric Beach is the name of a tanning salon in Coralville. Like an artificial tan, the paintings in this show aspire to glow through artificial means, to become a new kind of organic. 


    Please direct all inquiries to Mary F. Coats, exhibition curator.

    Phone: 978.496.6916 | Email: MARY.COATS@GMAIL.COM


  • Gaia Nardie-Warner, 'Nowadays'

    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.

    Artist Statement
    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.

    More information about Gaia's work is available at

  • Jeff Robinson + Michael Rutherford, 'Water and Stone'

    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.