Dispatches: Artists Engage the Historical Moment

Dispatches: Artists Engage the Historical Moment


  • June 7, 2018 - July 29, 2018
  • CSPS Hall
  • Free

First opened in 1891, CSPS Hall has always been a center of political activity and civic conversation. In earlier decades the building was a hotbed of union activity, while featuring speakers such as Paul Robeson and Adlai Stevenson. More recently,Legion Arts has hosted the likes of Dennis Kucinich, Tipper Gore and Bernie Sanders, as well as countless candidate meet-and-greets, and regular episodes of Pints and Politics, a series organized by the Cedar Rapids Gazette. At the same time, exhibiting artists have addressed issues ranging from poverty to factory farms, from racism to the nature of the family. We’ve even been visited by two artists who were running for president: Eileen Myles in 1992 and Lowell Darling in 2000.

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.

Shown during the lead-up to the midterm elections, when points of view are continuously, loudly and unambiguously stated, it may be surprising that few of the works in the exhibit display an obvious agenda. Rather, they offer an invitation to reflect ― on the world we live in, and on our life together. This feature is consistent with the mission of For Freedoms, which we happen to share: “We believe citizenship is defined by participation, not by ideology. We believe art can be a vehicle that broadens participation and deepens public discussions of civic issues and core values.” We hope you’ll join us in this opportunity.