Contemplating the tenth anniversary of the flood that struck Cedar Rapids in 2008, Mel Andringa began to explore his artistic output of the past decade, questioning how it had been influenced by the event. He found himself returning to painting and drawing, activities that he had largely given up, years ago, for conceptual art, performance and storytelling.
This summer and fall, as part of a national project called the 50 State Initiative, organized by the For Freedoms Federation, Legion Arts will be spotlighting artists who intentionally engage with the messy world around them, whose artworks invite reflection and discussion ― of values, place, patriotism.
This first installment includes gallery works by John Paul Schafer, Sam Watkins, Song Park, Gays Against Guns, and Jave Yoshimoto, as well as films by Brent Watkins and Robert Epstein. Alongside Mel Andringa’s reflections on natural disaster, these artists have trained their eye on gun violence, civil rights, the women’s movement, gay rights, gentrification, war, peace, and the plight of refugees and immigrants.
Mike Weber is a Cedar Rapids photographer who got his start photographing events for his high school newspaper, and went on to serve as photo editor for the Kirkwood Communiqué. Over the past decade, he’s focused his attention on two objectives: mastering traditional film photography, and documenting the local Iowa music scene, while emphasizing the importance of live music.