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Art exhibit in Oskaloosa is part of a bigger plan

Artists from across the country will have their work displayed in Oskaloosa, Iowa.

Its part of the “Visible/Invisible” opening exhibition at the new Oskaloosa Art Center and Studios at 115 1st Avenue in Oskaloosa. A reception starts at 6 p.m. today with over 20 artists from eight states will have work in the new space, which features a professional and hallway gallery.

The exhibit closes with another reception, from 6-8 p.m Oct. 28.

Matt Kargol curated the show and is a native of Oskaloosa. He’s the Oskaloosa Art Center gallery coordinator and a high school art teacher at Oskaloosa High School for six years.

He said the new space once belonged to the Eagles Club but now has a ceramic and printmaking studio, large classroom and the Oskaloosa Art Store.

“Being a teacher here I realized that with my students how they haven’t been anywhere to see what’s out there,” Kargol said. “So we’re trying to bring that to Oskaloosa.”

The art center is part of the nonprofit organization FACE (Fine Arts and Cultural Events) of Mahaska County.

Kargol said he didn’t want this art exhibit to be super representational and that he wanted to give his hometown something that will stretch their understanding of art.

Especially his students.

“There’s something special about communities where there are a lot of creative type people,” Kargol says. “We (His wife and him) have lived in places where they have invested in the arts and in their artists, it makes such a difference in the community.”

A salon for artists

Valerie Van Horne is one of several artists from Iowa having work in the show and the founder of River View Artist Salon, which hosts monthly meetings for artists to network and promote their work.

She said Kargol is a member of her salon that’s hosts its monthly event at the Des Moines Social Club; It has nearly 300 members.

“He was shocked by the outpouring of people who are participating in his show,” she says. “It’s his first major fine art show in this brand new art center.”

And Van Horne says more towns like Oskaloosa are hosting art shows.

“This isn’t the first town that’s reached out to me,” she explains. “In Jefferson, the same thing. They reached out to me through Facebook and just rolled out the carpet for artists that day.”

She said community members in Jefferson told her they are hoping to have murals painted on the tops of buildings and had already started one.




Art exhibit in Oskaloosa is part of a bigger plan | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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