Artists In Action (Muscatine, Iowa)
Artists in Action was incorporated in February of 1974 as an outlet to support the creative pursuits of area artists. That year, the group transformed a former tavern at 204 West Second Street in Muscatine into a gallery for the works of member artists. In exchange for yearly dues--which paid for rent and utilities of the shop--members were allotted display space in the gallery in which they exhibited works of art including paintings, sculpture, china, woodwork, prints, stained glass, macramé, and weaving. To ensure the quality and originality of work, the organization juried artists' works to determine which were suitable for display. In addition, the group strictly enforced its rule that none of its works were reproductions of other artists' works. The organization also limited the length of time works could be displayed. Members voluntarily staffed the shop for allotted time slots, and the business was open to the public every day in the morning and afternoon. For every sale, the artist received 80% of the sale price, and the remaining money went to the shop. An elected board of approximately ten people met each month to make decisions regarding the shop, including judging of new artists' works, determining shop window displays, and organizing worker schedules. In addition to its shop, the group developed a number of community activities. In the mid-to-late 1970s, the group organized classes and craft demonstrations and the "Belle of the Bend Art Fair," which was the main event of Muscatine's "Great River Days." Each August, the fair brought artists from throughout the Midwest to Muscatine, and over 100 artists participated each year. By the 1990s, the group expanded into two subgroups: a writers' society called "Writers on the Avenue" which published compilations of its members' works, and "Tellers in Action," a group of artists who told stories at community events and libraries. Despite the group's diversification, it was consistently plagued by financial difficulty. By the mid-1980s, the group concluded that many of its financial problems stemmed from its location. In 1987 the group moved into a building in the main district of Muscatine and enjoyed a brief increase in business. By the early 1990s, the shop's monthly statements rarely showed a profit, and despite many attempts to continue operating, the group closed the shop in 1997. Following the settlement of its debts and assets, the group officially disbanded at its last board meeting, October 8, 1998.
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