Marion 'Talk in the Mud' Set for Thursday

Life as an artist the topic at Campbell Steele Gallery in Marion.

An Iowa artist will discuss her work and life as a working artist in the monthly “Talk in the Mud” series, which kicks off this Thursday
at the Campbell Steele Gallery in the Marion Uptown District.

Pat Westercamp of Mt. Vernon will show her elaborate ceramic sculptures, from painted birds on tile and free-standing whimsical sheep, crows and pears; to 17th century Northern European Baroque houses that give glimpses of people in everyday activities, as in “Getting Ready for Bed.”

The free event lasts from 6 to 8 p.m., with a wine bar available at the 1064 7th Avenue, Marion location, in a 110-year-old+ Kendall Hardware building.

In 2008, owners Priscilla Steele and Craig Campbell renovated both floors, expanding to make way for a wine bar, which complements
their events nicely, Steele said.

Now in its 20th year, the art gallery offers only original fine art in all media in tandem with performances that Campbell produces.  

“We’re very proud of the quality of performance and art that we’ve been able to bring to our end of the Corridor,” Steele said. “We are beneficiaries of strong educational programs from Kirkwood, Coe, Mount Mercy, Cornell College and all of the (Iowa) State Regent Universities.”

Steele said the gallery features a wide range of studio art, including a number of artists from The Ceramics Center in downtown Cedar Rapids, like Marion Artist Katie Crawford.

“I move in a number of different circles that allow me the opportunity to meet different artists and see what’s out there,” Steele said. “Those
rings,” she said, pointing to a colorful display of rings in coffee beans, “are
by a young woman who works with me who took glass fusing classes at The Ceramics Center. Now, in her home in Marion, she has her own glass fusing studio.”

Steele, who creates etchings herself, is the product of the University of Iowa graduate program in printmaking, and also teaches at Coe College. Steele initially showed her work at art festivals and galleries throughout the region before operating her gallery in Marion.

“At that time in our lives we were going around the country, around the Midwest essentially, with my work, selling at art festivals; and the small business community of which Craig was a part, wanted to do something that could be identified solely with Marion, Iowa,” she said.

Besides partnering with the Marion Chamber of Commerce and other Marion businesses to designate the uptown area as an official Main Street destination, Campbell Steele Gallery played a founding role the Marion Art Festival, an annual event also in its 20th year. The festival is traditionally held the Saturday between Mothers’ Day and Memorial Day Weekend – this year, May 19.

“There are now so many small privately owned businesses that are doing just what Campbell Steele set out to do; there are businesses owners who believe in the merchandise that they have available, they can advocate for its quality and they stand behind customer service, and so what we’ve got is this wonderful nucleus of a community-oriented uptown area that is unique, and you can get that stroll dynamic going,” Steele said. “Lots of things have changed and Marion continues to evolve.”

Performances by the Summit Band and Demolition Band will be held March 16 and 23 respectively. The next art show is Saturday, March 24, featuring the work of watercolorist and illustrator, Stan Fellows.  For more information, call Campbell Steele Gallery at 319-373-9211 or visit


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