‘Nasty Women’ fill the Near Future space this weekend

Nasty Women in Iowa exhibit

Near Future (323 E Market St) — opens Friday, Feb. 17 at 10 a.m.

Any town whose economy is dependent upon a university must sustain an infrastructure around said educational institution. Therefore, in some capacity, a college town would behoove itself to cater to the artistic community that comes part and parcel with an institution that offers liberal arts studies.

That makes Near Future, 323 E Market St, so unique for Iowa City. Founded by a short-term lease agreement between John Engelbrecht, executive director of Public Space One, and Derek Perez, owner of that stretch of property, the location opened up on Inauguration Day and will last until March 3. The storefront hosted a welcome reception coordinated with an art exhibition, and now looks forward to hosting another gallery. On Friday and Saturday, Feb. 17 and 18 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. each day, Near Future will host Nasty Women in Iowa, a two-day pop-up art auction and exhibition. A closing reception will follow, from 4-6 p.m. on Feb. 18.

Nasty Women in Iowa closing reception

Near Future (323 E Market St) — Saturday, Feb. 18 at 4 p.m.

Organizers Heidi Bartlett and Jen P. Harris took in over 60 submissions, mostly from the local area but spread across the entire state. A couple of artists from St. Louis submitted work and some was received from New York State. Nasty Women in Iowa will feature over 100 different pieces of art spanning photography, hand-drawn prints and sculptural pieces.

“We’re looking at the different languages and themes that we’ve got,” Harris said, “so we’ve decided to have all these threads intermingling to sort of disperse everything.”

There is no straightforward narrative to the gallery, Harris said, but a collection of smaller narratives that are in conversation with each other. The artwork primarily concerns human rights, which in the current political climate stresses importance on gender and racial rights. Harris and Sayuri Hemann, a participating artist, said they wanted to emphasize the intersection of media and themes to reflect the broader mission of art and community.

Nasty Women in Iowa is a collaboration with the progenitorial Nasty Women exhibition and collective, which featured in Queens, New York in light of the past election’s rhetoric. Iowa City’s incarnation will showcase artwork that can be purchased for $100 or less, with select local artwork from artists such as Laurel Ferrin, Anita Jung, Barry Phipps, Neal Rock and Susan White, that will be sold via silent auction over the two days. All the proceeds will be split equally between Planned Parenthood and the Emma Goldman Clinic in Iowa City.

‘Wool Shit’ will be on display and available for purchase at the ‘Nasty Women’ exhibit. — Kate Running

Named after the stretch of time often ascribed as the foreseeable path between one’s position and the horizon, Near Future is not only an interim space. The location might point toward a push by the art community to find affordable commercial properties in prominent locations to support spaces that encourage artistic expression in a public setting. Engelbrecht recently signed a year-long lease effective this month at the Den’s former address,123 E Washington St, which will operate dually as a gallery and studio space.

Iowa City is a largely transient town. Therefore, buildings around town that are capable of housing spontaneous exhibitions in their many manifestations are just as transient — if not more. That’s the nature of seeking out spaces well-suited for pop-ups, Harris said, and Near Future occupies an emblematic time and place: affordable and visible.

“It’s always a struggle, though,” Hemann said. “You have to have an understanding with the property owner to value this kind of usage of space. No, it’s not always retail. No, it’s not always a restaurant. Those produce money, but maybe not the same cultural or social value [as an art gallery].”

After all, storefronts are some of the most effective sponges for drawing attention to local art. Harris acknowledged the number of passersby that peer into the windows of Near Future, allowing people to stumble upon the gallery. Furthermore, the location has become something of a “gathering point”, as Harris put it, for artists to generate posters and other collaborative works together on the weekends. “It’s a place to put our work into action,” Hemann said. That has become a focal point of Nasty Women in Iowa.

Aside from this weekend’s pop-up fundraiser, Near Future will hold a puppet-making workshop on Saturday, Feb. 18 at 11 a.m.; host Fight Back, a benefit concert for the Eastern Iowa Community Bond Project on Friday, Feb. 24 at 10 p.m.; and host a forum on cultural production under current socioeconomic standards on Saturday, Feb. 25 at 1 p.m. There will be a closing reception for the space on Friday, March 3 at 5 p.m.

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