Pop will eat Cedar Rapids? The Iowa Pop Art Festival returns this weekend

Everyday. Ordinary. Bright. Bold. Nondescript. Flashy. Unassuming. Pop: It’s all of those things, and that’s what makes it brilliant. Happening on Saturday May 21 at 10 a.m., the Iowa Pop Art Festival is spread around multiple locations in Cedar Rapids, including CSPS Hall, NewBo City Market and participating shops in the district.

The festival consists of three main components. Local businesses around Czech Village and New Bohemia will display work by individual artists. The main event is the art show at the Market, with 80 Iowan artists selling art in many mediums and businesses offering vintage wares. And CSPS Hall is hosting an exhibit, “Factory,” which consists of large-scale and conceptual work by 15 artists.

The artists, the show description reads, “don’t think about making art, [they] just get it done.” These are artists who “let everyone else decide if it’s good or if it’s bad, whether they love it or hate it, and while they’re deciding, make more art … work day in and day out creating art, like it’s their job, even when it doesn’t pay the bills.” With a description like this, you know the show’s going to be good.

“Factory” opens on May 21 and will be up through June 21. Artists include Jennifer Drinkwater, Jamila Johnson, Lauren Casto and YAZZIEWONPHON.

Pop Art has multiple meanings depending on the individual, and inspiration can come from everywhere. It is a celebration of everyday life and the myriad influences to be found in the ordinary.

The select artists below, who will be among those presenting their work at NewBo City Market, were kind enough to tell me what Pop Art means to them, and where, in everyday life, they find inspiration. Explore their Instagram accounts for extended viewing pleasure.


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A post shared by Alicia (@glassartbyalicia)

Alicia Abrams, @glassartbyalicia

“Pop Art is a vibrant and colorful art movement often inspired by popular culture and everyday life. I’m not sure if my art would truly be classified as pop art, but it is colorful, vibrant and based in scenery from everyday life and experiences.

“I find inspiration in nature itself. Flowers and trees, the ocean, hills and sunsets are magnificent pieces of art, and are just some of the beauties that inspire me. Every piece of my artwork represents nature, an emotion, an exploration of colors and patterns, or my own vision.”


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Spike Dupree, @goodfornuthing @everythingscliche

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“Pop art to me is almost a two-sided coin. It represents popular subjects and ideas but also what’s not popular (what I call anti pop art). I find inspiration from my peers and food. But also from the world and what’s going on around me.”


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A post shared by “EBiSU” (@ebisu.237)

EBiSU, @ebisu.237

“To me, pop art is the reflection of a society structured around consumerism and obsessed with celebrity. I tend to find most of my artistic inspiration from the natural world and metaphysical realm. I am also very inspired by my fiancé, friends and homies in DVK out in FL and the UK.”


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A post shared by Emily Lawson (@emilyelisabethart)

Emily Lawson, @emilyelisabethart

“Pop Art is paying close attention to the world, the people and the culture around us and celebrating it (and sometimes challenging it), through bright colors, simple line and geometric shape. I struggle with mental health, so to stay present to the world around me, to see ordinary everyday things as beautiful is my favorite inspiration. Tree branches against the blue sky, the silhouette of my toddler’s face as she plays, cream swirling into coffee … inspiration is all around if I’m able to see it.”


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A post shared by Shiara Nivana (@shiara.nivana)

Shiara Nivana, @shiara.nivana

“Pop Art, to me, means that there is a space for everyone. In a town that feels like it lacks an art scene a lot of the time, it’s created a warm welcome to younger and newly established artists. It rocks knowing that there was a community all along and all we needed as a central spot to showcase all our talents. I find a lot of my inspiration through the local Iowa music scene. I’ve dabbled in film for around 12 years now which is where I’ve developed my love of architecture and nature in photos, but getting involved in going to shows constantly and especially seeing my friends perform- it really motivated me to capture those moments. Getting those snapshots where the space and atmosphere of a show when people in crowds or performers are at their most vulnerable and enjoying themselves, that is my absolute favorite feeling of all time as an artist.”