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Turning fabric into art


Any piece of fabric presents itself as an opportunity for Janet Bergeron.

Bergeron has been sewing since she was eight years old and since retiring from the Des Moines tech community, she’s working more than she ever has.

“Quilting is an art form, I just have a different view of the world,” Bergeron says. “Quilts don’t have to look like a blanket.”

Bergeron will finish a five-week exhibition on Friday of her new works at the Artisan Gallery in West Des Moines. She makes clothes, dyes clothes and turns clothing into decorative pieces for boardrooms and living rooms. Her full skill set was on display with a more nuanced piece inspired by the “supermoon” hanging above several rose petals made from old shirts.

“I always have another project, there’s always another idea,” Bergeron says. “I’ve got 50 ties from my brother who doesn’t need to wear them anymore to work. So I’m taking them apart and figuring out how to incorporate them into a jacket or something.”

Bergeron founded Bergeron Arts and is the Iowa representative for the Studio Art Quilt Association. She grew up in Northeast Iowa, on a farm near Ryan.

Her process

Artisan Gallery
This quilt was inspired by the “supermoon” event earlier this year. It’s part of the exhibit at Artisan Gallery.

As one of four owners of Artisan Gallery in West Des Moines, Mary Klein-Misol said the gallery partners with Iowa artists who have unique and original expression.

“That’s one of the things that really smacked us in the face with her (Janet) work,” Klein-Misol said. “Her work is more mysterious and expressive in terms of color and shape and form.”

Bergeron says her process—regardless of whether its a quilt, clothing item or postcard—can be inspirational or a pattern.

“When we had the super moon a few weeks ago, I was trying to get all the nuances of color because when the moon is that big it has more variety of color in it,” Bergeron said. “Sometimes I start with a drawing but mostly it’s letting things play together and what catches your eye.”

The business of being an artist

Artisan Gallery
Janet Bergeron discusses her artwork on display at the Artisan Gallery in West Des Moines.

Before art was full time, Bergeron would work with startups on patents and intellectual property.

During her career, Bergeron said she went through venture school at the Pappajohn Center in downtown Des Moines.

She said the experience helped her in her art process.

“Being realistic in who is interested in my artwork,” Bergeron says. “In my heart, I want to make these masterpieces but when people come in, they may love your big piece but they buy the little one. So you have to make a lot more smalls then you do masterpieces.”

1 Comment

  • Pat Cain
    Posted March 16, 2018 at 7:59 am

    Janet, always loved your work. Haven’t seen one piece I didn’t like!
    Pat Cain. Creston

Comments are closed.

Turning fabric into art | 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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