Oct Art in the Afternoon

Automatic PaintingAustin Caskie

October 18, 2020 at 1:00 pm. on Zoom

Austin Caskie is a painter and new media artist from North Carolina now living and working in Iowa City, Iowa. Austin Caskie earned a BFA in Art and Design at the North Carolina State University College of Design.

The Automatic Painting series began as an examination of generative art practices looking at the impact of machine learning algorithms on visual art. Using another process I created a body of work that handed over the powers of design and abstraction to a computer. I then applied my skills as an oil painter to take the computer’s vision and translate it into an oil painting. From there the scope of the conversation has expanded to encompass questions on craft, and the act of ascribing meaning to the results of randomness.”  

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September Newsletter

–Dan Cummins (Board President) 

How things have changed in six months! Last February, ArtiFactory was wrapping up a study that looked at the feasibility of having a community art center in Johnson County. We were also significantly expanding our programming. Most of us had never heard of Covid, Zoom, or derecho. In times like these, art can ground us, be healing and holistic. We can explore the beauty of a piece of art with our eyes, hands, and minds. As Thomas Merton said, “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time”.
One thing we learned from the feasibility study is that, while we do some things well, ArtiFactory needs to expand its reach and level of engagement with the Johnson County community. This monthly newsletter is a step in that direction. Our goal is to help you connect with art in a variety of ways while acknowledging the challenging times we are in. We hope you find this thought provoking, educational, and fun. If you have suggestions for future topics, we welcome them.


–Beppie Weiss

Hello Friends. The first thing I want to share with you is an article printed in the NYTimes arts section this spring. It is about Rosie Lee Tompkins, an African American quilter of amazing talent and soul. The article is a biography studded with wonderful images of her work which has roots in the traditional folk arts of her heritage. Have a look then go to see her retrospective exhibit at the Berkeley Museum of Art. If you want to quilt like Rosie toss out your patterns, books and kits and be free!

U C Berkeley Art Museum, Rosie Lee Tompkins: A Retrospective

Next I have some local news for you to enjoy. Marcia Wegman will have a show at The Gilded Pear gallery in Cedar Rapids opening on August 21 and running until October 2. The title of her show is “Vision / Inner and Outer” and will be shown on line at Gilded Pear gallery.

Local artist and teacher John Preston is offering demonstrations in pastel and watercolor on his FaceBook page every Wednesday at 1 o’clock. John Preston

And lastly for the artist in you and yours….I have spent a lot of time looking for free demos and classes on line for everything from life drawing to how to paint a fish for 6 year olds. There are many places to go and there is information out there that’s useful. Basically though one is always working from a small 2D photograph of something. So go ahead and watch the demos and pick up tips on any number of things, but draw and paint from life. All you need is some paper and a pencil…..maybe a teensy eraser. Draw every day you eat. Need help? Contact me at beppieweiss.net.


–John McGlinn

Francis Bacon is a British painter of world renown, and one of my favorite artists. There are many videos and books about his life, relationships, his art and about being openly gay at a time of general unacceptance. Here a Sotheby’s “Expert Voices” professional discusses one such painting up for auction. This is a satisfying presentation of art, that for 50 years has been work perfectly sufficient for me just to look at. But with the ease of YouTube all kinds of background info is available for a few clicks. Francis Bacon on YouTube.

So much to see online at the Guggenheim Museum in NY City, and it’s changing often thank goodness given our attention spans online, so it’s worth dropping by every once in a while. All premium stuff! Guggenheim online.

Always interesting is the price of art. And most interesting would be the most expensive paintings ever sold at auction (public). Worth a quick look to remind us all of how the 1% lives. Maybe one of your favorites is on the list.

On a completely different note here is a London art dealer that is superb, and provides valuable information and a very wide range of products. I have purchased their excellent Pfeil wood/linoleum carving tools, and relief barrens for applying pressure to the back of Japanese printmaking paper for excellent ink transfer from the inked block. Their goods arrive faster than Graphic Chemical and Ink and on par with Blick’s web store… from London no less! This link is an example of their valuable info as it discusses water-mixable oil paint which I know nothing about. Find out more.


 –Phil Beck

There have been many movies made about artists—not all of them good, or accurate–but the ones that are give us insightful, entertaining glimpses into an artist’s world.  As a visual medium, film lends itself to depicting painting and sculpture, but because it’s motion pictures, it’s not always easy to make canvases or statutes look exciting onscreen.  The solution is usually to focus on the drama of artists’ personal lives.  Van Gogh immediately springs to mind—he’s been played on film several times.  But he’s not the only one.  In this and future newsletters, I’ll discuss films about the lives and work of artists, those that are household names and those that are not.  I’ll consider both narrative and documentary films, and even movies about fictional artists.

August was the birthday month for many artists (Click here for calendar). Among the best known is Andy Warhol, one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.  Love him or hate him, it’s impossible to ignore the impact he had on modern art and American popular culture.  With his distinct look and outsize celebrity status, it’s no surprise he showed up as a character in movies recounting the feverish New York City art scene of the 1960s and 1970s.  He’s been portrayed by Jared Harris in I Shot Andy Warhol (1996) and Guy Pearce in Factory Girl (2006), films centered on women who were part of Warhol’s circle.  But most memorable is musician David Bowie’s otherworldly turn as the older Warhol in Basquiat, a 1996 biographical film about Jean-Michel Basquiat, the New York graffiti artist turned 1980s Pop Art sensation with Warhol’s help. In Summer 2019 ArtiFactory partnered with FilmScene to present a free screening of this film. 

In September we remember, among others, the formidable Italian painter Caravaggio (1571-1610) whose dramatic, often violent paintings matched his tumultuous life and personality. One of the leading artists of his day, Caravaggio roamed Italy, seeking pardon for a murder he committed in Rome and leaving behind masterworks such as The Musicians and The Crucifixion of St. Peter. He seemed particularly fascinated by beheadings, painting several famous decapitations from The Bible: Judith Beheading Holofernes, The Beheading of St. John the Baptist, Salome with the Head of John the Baptist, David with the Head of Goliath (the latter two using his own head as model for the severed ones). Toward the end of his short life, friends questioned his sanity. He died suddenly from causes still the subject of debate: lead poisoning, syphilis, a fever. Or perhaps he was murdered? The chaos continued centuries later: in 1969 his painting Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence was stolen from a museum in Palermo. Still missing, it is rumored to be in the hands of the Sicilian mafia.

Caravaggio is the subject of at least three major films available on DVD, Blu-ray, or streaming services. I haven’t seen any of them, but they all have good reputations. The first is British director Derek Jarman’s 1986 historical fantasy, Caravaggio, which focuses on the artist’s formative years and bisexuality. Its style is as freewheeling as the largely fictional plot, which is sprinkled with anachronisms such as electric lights, motorbikes, and an electronic calculator. Caravaggio, a two-part drama produced for Italian television in 2007, is a more straightforward telling of his life. And finally, 2018’s Caravaggio: The Soul and the Blood is an “immersive” documentary exploring his paintings in the places he lived and worked—Milan, Florence, Naples, Rome, and Malta. Intriguingly, it combines scholarly commentary with an actor speaking as Caravaggio in voiceover narration.

Sponsored film screenings are not possible at the present time because of COVID-19, but in the future ArtiFactory hopes to offer them to Johnson County residents once again.  In the meantime, if you have a favorite film about an artist or the arts, please feel free to share it with us.  Send the title to the newsletter, Attention: Phil Beck, along with a brief explanation of why you like the film and what makes it special for you.  You can also send in questions or comments about other artist films.  Consider this space one in which we can exchange information and opinions about art and artists in the movies!

Andy Warhol on film:

Carvaggio on film:


Recorded September 20, 2020

Now on YouTube

Art In The Afternoon. Deanne Wortman shares her interest in paper, printing and books. Her exploration over the years has ranged from wall sized prints and drawings to miniatures. She has shared her love of books, story and text with children of ALL ages through storytelling, puppetry, drawings and now, Tiny Books. Watch the video.


We have several needs for volunteers. If you are interested in helping keep the arts alive in Johnson County please click below for more details.

Sept Art in the Afternoon

September 20, 2020

Tiny Books

Deanne Warnholtz Wortman

My interest in paper and printing and books goes back many years. I have explored both over the years and have gone from wall sized prints and drawings to miniatures. I have shared my love of books and story and text with children of ALL ages through storytelling, puppetry, drawings and now, Tiny Books.

Many of them are wordless, speechless. Many of them are quite unconventional. Many speak in images, through materials, use a tactile, visual language, beautiful to look at, opening, unfurling, revealing, surprising. Will they ever have words? Who knows?

I don’t, but I can sometimes hear a murmur when I open one.

These are just some of the pursuits that I work on in my basement, the home of electricjumpinghorse studio and the Black Bart Press. Watch the video.

July Art in the Afternoon

Architectural Sketching

Local architect Jesus Chucho Loria will give a presentation about architectural drawing and sketching, overviewing its history with examples from the past through modern digital sketching.  He was born in Mexico and educated at Yucatan Autonomous University. “I’m convinced my family had never heard the word ‘architecture’ before I took an interest,” he has said. “A bit later in life, however, I learned that my great grandfather attended engineering classes at the state university – I cherish the memory of my grandma showing me the wooden box that housed his brass drafting instruments from his student days.” Mr. Loria also serves on the Board of Arts Iowa City. Watch the video.

June Art in the Afternoon

June 21, 2020 from 1:00 to 2:30 pm.

June’s Art in the Afternoon will be presented on Zoom due to Covid-19. Please click on the button below to receive you login information.

Taissir Abdelgadir is a prolific artist and art professor who emigrated from Sudan to the U.S. in 2015.  She has a B.A. in Applied Art, Department of Textile Printing and M.F.A from the College of Fine and Applied Art from Sudan University for Science & Technology. Khartoum University granted her a higher diploma from the Institute for African & Asian Studies. Taissir was active in her home country arranging organizations and initiatives that empowered women and brought attention to gender-based discrimination.  Under the brutal regime of deposed dictator Omar Al-Bashir, Sudanese artists, writers, journalists, and thinkers were suppressed for the slightest criticism of the government.  These constraints were even greater for expressive, activist women.  To escape them, Taissir taught at a university in Saudi Arabia for two years. In 2015 she was accepted for an Art Conference in New York City. She has not gone back to Sudan since.

The media she works in includes weaving, tie dye, silk screen, woodcut and linoleum block printing. Her paintings are created with watercolor, ink and acrylics.  Her artwork has been exhibited in Morocco, Sweden, India, Germany, Egypt, Kenya and Washington D.C.  Currently she is an Elementary Paraeducator for the Iowa City Schools.

March Art in the Afternoon

  • March 15 postponed to November 15, 2020
  • from 1:00 to 2:30 pm
  • in The Center’s Assembly Room
  • 28 S Linn St, Iowa City, Iowa
  • Free Admission

Postponed to November 15, 2020 due to concerns over the coronavirus.

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James L. Ochs is a self-employed artist with over 30 years of experience in printmaking, painting, and drawing. He has been a university art instructor while also operating Ochs Studio for teaching and printmaking in Iowa City. Born in Denver, Colorado, he received his B.A. in painting at Colorado State University and an M.A. and M.F.A in printmaking and drawing from the University of Iowa. He gained print experience at Blacks Print Studio in New York City and worked in collage and paint at the Art Student League.

About his work, Ochs says: “I contrast things within the figure, something different opposed to it to make it more poetic and mystical, as opposed to something very classical.” His works can be found in art collections around the U.S., including the Des Moines Art Center; Muscatine Art Center, Farm Bureau in Des Moines, Library of Congress, Harvard College, and Brown University. Featured in over 120 national, regional, and solo shows, he has received numerous awards, including the Coconut Grove Art Exhibition and Winter Park Art Festival in Florida. See more at: www.gildedpeargallery.com/jim-ochs

ART IN THE AFTERNOON is a monthly artist talk / workshop usually held on the 3rd Sunday. This series focuses on introducing local artists to the Iowa City community.

March Life Drawing

Due to concerns over the coronavirus this Life Drawing Drop-Ins will be suspended until further notice.

March 15 (Canceled)

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March 29 (Canceled)

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  • 1:00 to 3:00 PM (arrive on time)
  • in The Center’s Room 211
  • 28 S Linn St, Iowa City, IA
  • Cost: $10.00 per session

Drawing the figure is captivating and challenging. The figure may later inhabit our landscapes and scenes. We will be drawing both clothed and nude models. Please bring your own drawing materials. Participants must be age 18 or over.

Enter The Center through the Washington St. entrance and the take elevator or stairs to the 2nd floor or from the third floor of the Iowa Ave. parking ramp through the skywalk to The Center’s second floor. Then, proceed to room 211.

Please limit media to graphite, charcoal or pastels. Do not use oils or acrylics that can leave a permanent stain.

February Art in the Afternoon

  • February 16, 2020
  • from 1:00 to 2:30 pm
  • in The Center’s Assembly Room
  • 28 S Linn St, Iowa City, Iowa
  • Free Admission

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Andrea Smisek Gage – “Nothing challenges creativity more than the rollercoaster of life! From architectural-engineering to engineering a life of three kids, carpool and aging parents, Andrea Smisek Gage has found new ways to create in order to have new ways to cope. Portraits to plein air in both oil and watercolor is her most recent outlet that has opened a new world of opportunities. Sharing her creative journey through humorous stories and paintings will give insight into how to color outside the lines and create a vibrant life for yourself.”

February Life Drawing

February 9th

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February 23rd

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  • 1:00 to 3:00 PM (arrive on time)
  • in The Center’s Room 211
  • 28 S Linn St, Iowa City, IA
  • Cost: $10.00 per session

Drawing the figure is captivating and challenging. The figure may later inhabit our landscapes and scenes. We will be drawing both clothed and nude models. Please bring your own drawing materials. Participants must be age 18 or over.

Enter The Center through the Washington St. entrance and the take elevator or stairs to the 2nd floor or from the third floor of the Iowa Ave. parking ramp through the skywalk to The Center’s second floor. Then, proceed to room 211.

Please limit media to graphite, charcoal or pastels. Do not use oils or acrylics that can leave a permanent stain.

Figure Painting Workshop

Due to concerns over the coronavirus this workshop will be canceled.

  • One 3-hour session: $40
  • Sunday April 5, 2020 from 1:00-4:00 pm
  • in The Center’s Room G07
  • 28 S Linn St, Iowa City, Iowa

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Presented by The ArtiFactory
Instructor: Beppie Weiss

Three hours of extended poses with a live model and rigorous instruction to take your life drawing to another level. Beppie Weiss will demonstrate the use of water-based oils. All levels welcome.

Materials: soft graphite, eraser, drawing paper, Conte crayons, Conte pencils, pastels, acrylics, watercolors, or water-based oils.

Participants must be age 18 or over. All levels welcome. Open to 10 participants (minimum 4). Need not be a member of The Center. Please pay instructor by cash or check. Registration required. Register at The Center (319-356-5220) or online by clicking below.