Press Releases

Molly Wood’s "Omnia Vanitas" photography series and "Artistically Exploring Wood Vessels" by Joe Meirhaeghe and Steve Sinner on view this summer!

Stunning photographs and exquisite wood vessels will be on view this summer at the Muscatine Art Center. Des Moines photographer, Molly Wood, will exhibit her Omnia Vanitas series and Quad City area artists, Steve Sinner and Joe Meirhaeghe, will showcase their wood vessels.

In her photography, Molly Wood focuses on the fleeting passage of time, the transience of material things and the inevitability of change. Using natural window light and Dutch still life painting as inspiration, Wood’s photographs are intricate vignettes of botanicals and symbols of ephemerality.
Her botanicals are metaphors for human experiences.

Wood is one of this year’s Iowa Arts Council Fellows and has exhibited her work at the Midwest Center for Photography, the Freeport Art Museum, Iowa State University, St Ambrose University and is scheduled for solo exhibitions at the Dubuque Museum of Art and Sioux City Art Center. Wood manages photo shoots for Better Homes and Gardens products and teaches History of Photography at Des Moines Area Community College. Wood has a BA in Photojournalism from Texas Christian University (Ft Worth) and an MA in Art History from Southern Methodist University (Dallas). Her work is shown by Olson-Larsen Galleries in Des Moines and Talley Dunn Gallery in Dallas.

Wood turners, Steve Sinner and Joe Meirhaege, have collaborated in recent years, and this exhibition features collaborative works as well as independently created vessels by each artist. Sinner’s early interest in woodworking led to a degree in Industrial Education from Iowa State University, followed by
a 33-year career in industry and social services facilities management. Clock making and furniture making were hobbies, but in 1975 after reading Dale Nish’s book, Creative Woodturning, Sinner took a passionate interest in artistic woodturning. By 1998, he was turning fulltime with a studio added to his home in 2001.

Sinner concentrates on developing intricate surface decoration using silver leaf, acrylics and ink on deep hollow vessels turned primarily of maple, walnut or cherry. His works are found in museums, galleries and collections from New York to California and have been featured in art and craft publications in the
United States, England and Australia. In 2018, the Figge Art Museum hosted a solo exhibition of his work titled, “Steve Sinner: Master Woodturner”. The Cheongju International Craft Biennele in South Korea has exhibited his work three times, awarding him a special citation in 2003.

Joe Meirhaege grew up on a farm outside of Woodhull, Illinois, and had a passion for woodworking from an early age. He was introduced to the wood lathe at age 12 by a friend of his father’s and was immediately fascinated to see a block of wood spinning at a high rate of speed with wood chips flying. Meirhaege enjoyed it so much that he bought his first lathe at age 14 with money saved from a part time summer job.

Since I was a young boy I've felt a strong connection to wood and trees,” states Meirhaeghe. He continues, “I'm amazed by how nature’s trees can hide such a mysterious and beautiful media under it's bark.”

As an adult, Meirhaege bought a shop full of wood working tools and started building furniture and cabinetry. After hobby woodworking for over 25 years, he met Steve Sinner and was introduced to turned wood art. Although Meirhaege had never looked at anything made of wood as art before, seeing Sinner’s work drove him to learn more. Meirhaege learned many skills and techniques under an apprenticeship of sorts with Sinner.

Joe’s passion for wood has now turned in an artistic direction. He primarily focuses on hollow vessel using native Midwestern woods such as walnut, cherry, hickory and maple. He also enjoys incorporating acrylics, bone and pyrography into some his work. “Since I was a young boy I've felt a strong connection to wood and trees,” states Meirhaeghe. He continues, “I'm amazed by how nature’s trees can hide such a mysterious and beautiful media under it's bark.”

The public can meet Molly Wood, Steve Sinner, and Joe Meirhaege at the Muscatine Art Center’s Annual Ice Cream Social on June 30, 2019 from 1:30 to 3:00 p.m. Omnia Vanitas is on view through October 27, 2019 and Artistically Exploring Wood Vessels is on view through August 18, 2019.

Public Art and a Special Exhibition of Work by David Hayes on view in Muscatine

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An impromptu visit almost three years ago will soon result in public art and an exhibition for the Muscatine community to enjoy throughout the summer. “David Hayes, the son of the late American sculptor David Hayes, was in Iowa in June of 2016 and asked to meet with me,” explains Muscatine Art Center Director, Melanie Alexander. “From that first conversation, we both thought there would eventually be a collaboration of some sort.”

In June of 2016, the Muscatine Art Center was in the middle of facility upgrades and a capital campaign. “We exchanged emails for two years, and David suggested the Muscatine Art Center as one of three museums to host The Ventana Series.” The other two venues are the Swope Art Museum in Terre Haute, Indiana and the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Artist David Hayes can be admired for his ability to sensitively capture natural forms while skillfully cutting, welding and transforming steel, a material historically associated with tools, weapons and architectural marvels. A student of American sculptor David Smith and a friend of Alexander Calder, Hayes created sculptures that are graceful and organic.

The Ventana Series is comprised of ten works and is a continuation of Hayes’ explorations of physical screens which the artist first began in 1976. Hayes imaginatively utilized the concept of a screen. His outdoor sculptures became welded works – sometimes monumental in scale – that reframed a landscape and challenged viewers to confront the unexpected. In the exhibition, a gouache study for each work is on view, presenting a glimpse of Hayes’ vision, and perhaps inner dialogue, as the artist worked through his ideas on paper and then in smaller-scale metal constructions.

Four full-scale sculptures will be on loan to the Muscatine Art Center and will be placed in public spaces throughout Muscatine before the end of May 2019. “The timing of this public art loan is perfect,” states Alexander, who has been involved in beginning a Public Art Advisory Commission for the City of Muscatine. “These pieces allow the new Advisory Commission to look more closely at where public art can be placed and provide the broader community with opportunity to engage with, and think about, public art. I hope the introduction of these pieces will lead to more dialogue about art in public spaces.”