Central Iowa Art Association celebrates 75th anniversary

T-R PHOTO BY SARA JORDAN-HEINTZ Central Iowa Art Association Board President Bob Moore looks over pieces that will be included in a sale Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Fisher Community Center.

Since 1944, Central Iowa Art Association (CIAA)-The Art Center has served as a purveyor for all things related to creativity and the arts locally. It is known for its art classes — for children and adults — plus its ceramics, sculptures and other art pieces.

Housed in the Fisher Community Center since the late 1950s, it is relocating its classes to Iowa Valley Continuing Education at Marshalltown Community College, Room 402. At this time, it will not keep office space, and the artwork will remain housed at Fisher Community Center.

CIAA Board President Bob Moore said it will be vacating the Fisher Community Center by next week. The Marshalltown Senior Citizens Center will then move into the space, officially opening at 9 a.m. June 3.

“The model we’ve been trying to use is just not working financially. We didn’t have enough class volume, so we hit upon the idea to start teaching our classes at the college,” Moore said.

The CIAA is run by a volunteer board of directors. It’s one full-time and one part-time employees were laid off in late 2017.

The organization is holding a sale Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Fisher Community Center. It will feature art supplies, materials, canvases, art books, easels, equipment, furniture, limited art pieces, a 3D printer, a potter’s kick wheel, computer equipment, TV monitor and more.

The CIAA, a non-profit organization, was founded by three ladies: Allene Gordon, Edna Wise and Helen Lentz. In 1944, the women were members of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), meeting in the basement of the (old) Marshalltown Public Library. Interested in taking an art class, they hired Nellie Gerbers, a noted Iowa artist who was a student of Grant Wood’s. The classes were held in the former high school on 11th Street. In 1946, the classes moved to the YMCA and the women now called themselves The Creative Group. According to information obtained from Lentz’s scrapbook, “With Gerbers active in the Waterloo Art Association, she thought it would be ideal for the Marshalltown group to organize and pattern their by-laws after Waterloo’s, and so they did. That October the Central Iowa Art Association came into being at a luncheon at the YMCA.”

The CIAA then moved its headquarters to the courthouse. Then in the fall of 1955, Bill Fisher offered the organization a place within the Fisher Community Center to hold classes and keep office space. The CIAA-Art Center opened there in January 1958.

Moore said the goal is to recruit art instructors who would then coordinate with the college to set up the courses.

“How it would work is 40 percent of the fee (paid by those enrolled in the class) will be given to the college’s Continuing Education; 10 percent will go to the CIAA; 50 percent to the instructor,” he said.

Moore identified four demographics the CIAA wants to connect with: art instructors, those interested in taking classes, volunteers and donors. He noted that financial contributions allow the organization to offer programs that are free to the public, including activities for kids.

Starting in the fall of 2018, the CIAA began working with the college to make this new partnership a reality, including with Conference Center Coordinator Julie Thomas.

“Iowa Valley Continuing Education is excited to partner with the Central Iowa Art Association and offer more classes related to the arts,” Thomas said. “Iowa Valley will provide classroom space and take registrations, and both organizations will share in developing and publicizing classes. Watch for the Fall EdVenture course schedule to be mailed in July or check our webpage: iavalley.augusoft.net and browse under Life & Leisure for upcoming classes.”

Suggestions for classes and/or instructors are welcome. Contact IVCE at 641-752-4645 or ivceinfo@iavalley.edu or Moore at 641-750-2853 or rob.lin1@comcast.net.

“We’re reinventing but still keeping the central mission: art education in Central Iowa,” Moore said. “Continuing Education has plenty of room we can schedule classes in, and over time, we hope to also offer classes at Iowa Valley’s other campuses.”


Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at

641-753-6611 or



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