Public Space One and the Iowa City Downtown District are pleased to announce Art Onsite, an initiative that turns unused storefronts into exhibition spaces by pairing local artists with businesses and building owners. Utilizing a combination of pop-up shops, public sites, vacant storefronts, and businesses with open window space, new art spaces will be created throughout the Spring and early Summer in downtown Iowa City, making for new and safe outdoor, art-viewing experiences.

Nancy Bird, Executive Director of the Iowa City Downtown District, notes: “We saw this program as a great way to highlight a few of downtown’s open commercial spaces while giving lift and exposure to our local artist community.  At the same time, as new businesses are exploring downtown spaces, we hope they see more than just the space.  We hope they see that this is a welcoming community that collaborates well and appreciates culture.”

John Engelbrecht, Executive Director of Public Space One adds, “Over the past year of the pandemic, PS1 has launched several projects aimed at extending art from the confines of the gallery. The PS1 art gardens, constantly and lovingly maintained by Kymbyrly Koesters have been one site. The Open Air Media Festival, curated by Zen Cohen, was an offering that turned sides of buildings into screens for projected video work and performance. These projects helped pave the way for a new way of thinking about art spaces in Iowa City and viewing art in a pandemic…. we are so pleased to be working with the support of the ICDD in activating a bunch of new spaces for art!”

April is the first month of the project with three artists using the pop-up shops on the ped mall at Black Hawk Minipark: Jeremy Chen, an artist and Professor of Art at Grinnell; Gail Ray, a retired architect and artist from the Quad Cities; and Adriana DeRosa, an MFA candidate in Photography at Iowa. These first installations are up now and will be up through the end of April.

Three new locations with three new artists will soon be announced and on view beginning May 1.

India Johnson, an artist who hopes to show a large (50+ sq. Ft), year-in-process textile piece documenting the pandemic in visual form using Johnson County Covid cases as a conceptual constraint, noted in her application, “I’m often asked why I prefer to exhibit in non-gallery settings; what we should ask instead is why the ‘white cube’ gallery is an acceptable default.”

The public will be able to follow the exhibitions and sites at and via ICDD & PS1’s social media. Info for individual artists and the project site is also accessible via the label in each window installation. Exhibiting artists are compensated via funding from the ICDD. This is a pilot program for launch in Spring 2021, potentially extendable.