Plein Air Show

On display August 23 – September 30, 2022

This collection of works was created in Central Gardens and outdoors by Midwest artists. Most of the art was created just recently on August 20, 2022 during our Artist Paint Out in the Central Gardens of North Iowa.

What is Plein Air?

“En plein air” is French for “in open air” and refers to the act of painting or creating art outside with the artwork’s subject in plain view of the artist. With the invention of more portable art-making materials, plein air painting grew in popularity and is fairly accessible for professionals and novices alike.

Nearly any medium can be used to create art outside with enough dedication, however there are more popular mediums. Pastels, Oil Pastels, Pencil, Watercolor, Acrylic, and Gouache are common due to their ability to dry quickly and have fewer chemicals to transport and materials to clean. Some artists will still paint with oils or other mediums as well.

Exhibiting Artists

Alexis Beucler

Tiffany Bucknell

Tom Christopher

Erin Fortin

Carol Franta

Jennifer Franta

Danna Fruetel

Audrey Olmstead

Mariah Piippo

Abraham Quintus

Sandra Quintus

This exhibition was made possible by the Hanson Family and Central Gardens of North Iowa

Iconoplast by Erik Olson

On display July 26 – August 19, 2022

Using quilted plastic waste as his medium, Olson creates works that deal with the effects of consumerism, mass consumption and unfettered capitalism. By layering environmental issues with social justice messaging, his art emphasizes alienation from the environment and each other, willingness to waste, and the subsequent need for healing. By minimizing his carbon footprint in the creation of pieces and transcending the medium without denying what it is, Olson creates art that embodies Marshall McLuhan’s concept that “the medium is the message”.

Artist Talk at 5pm on August 6, 2022 in our Hanson Gallery.

About the Artist

Erik Olson grew up on a hog farm in northwestern Iowa where, at an early age, he realized his ability to make things out of whatever was readily available. After earning a degree in advertising design from Iowa State University, he moved to Minneapolis and began a 25-year career as a creative in the advertising industry. In his spare time, Olson experimented with different multimedia approaches to create art.

After retiring, he helped a friend brand a business that made functional items out of single-use plastic waste. He also helped source the used plastic and provided some initial assistance in product/process development. Knowing his propensity to create from whatever was available, Olson’s friend challenged him to use his design skills to create art from the leftovers of the manufacturing process. Olson accepted the challenge, took the “waste of the waste” home, and started making. Quilted plastic waste proved itself a viable medium.

Since 2009, Olson has won numerous awards, exhibited and sold art locally and nationally. He works out of his home studio in Plymouth, Minnesota, where he creates large-scale works by quilting plastic waste.

Tom Cubr: Surface

On display June 28 – July 23, 2022

Surface is a compilation of Tom Cubr’s formalist inspired works that are abstracted aerial views. Watching the patches of Earth in different colors and human impact on the terrain, Cubr was inspired to make these works when flying in an airplane for the first time. Using satellite images as basic layouts, his finished work doesn’t always resemble the source images. He has even revisited the same locations years apart and notices the changes humans and the environment have had on the land.

Cubr’s art also has texture as you look closer at each piece. Oil, gouache, pencil, sand, and more are included in is works to build texture despite his work remaining flat on the walls. “The physical appearance of the surface of a work of art is, for me, as important as the overall visual impact of a picture’s design and color,” says the artist. His work is vibrant, detailed, and expressive both up close and at a distance.

Although they are often brightly colored, they are intended to be quiet oases of subtle expressiveness which I hope people will view up close.

Tom Cubr

About the Artist

Tom Cubr

Cubr earned a BA in Art & Art History from Eastern Illinois University in 1983. Although for many years, he supported his art by working with the elderly and persons who have disabilities, he tried to devote time to develop a style and techniques which focus on color and subtle execution. His studio is at the Starline Factory at 400 W. Front Street, Harvard, IL. where a growing group of local artists and artisans have been creating art and opening their studios to the public.

The Circle – A Return to Center

by Susan Gangsei

On display May 31 – June 24, 2022.

Tapestry by Susan Gangsei

A tapestry begins as a drawing. This drawing depicts an image, theme, or message about the human experience. Inspiration can come from nature, a symbol, or another piece of art.

From this drawing, the artist creates whats called a “cartoon”. This is the pattern that guides the weaving the way a sketch leads a painting. After the image and shapes are finalized, Gangsei looks at colors to determine what goes where. Each shape in the image is then labeled with a color and weaving technique.

Gangsei uses a combination of techniques. Being trained in classic European weaving techniques, she can blend colors and rows of colors. Her background in Peruvian techniques allows her to add texture to the surface of the fabric.

She is drawn to round and circular shapes resembling a yin and yang dynamic that embodies how lives are complex, with both good and bad. Circles are how the artist expresses paradox and wholeness at the same time.

This exhibition was made possible by a grant from the Hanson Family Foundation.

Tapestry is a labor of love, in both time and heart.

Susan Gangsei

About the Artist

Susan Gangsei

Gangsei has been creating tapestries for over 15 years. Starting with the technique weaving, she found as much enjoyment in designing the tapestry as she did the practice. The images became a way to creatively share her life and experiences. The process of weaving is meditative, and brings calm and perspective into Gangsei’s life even when circumstances seem overwhelming.

LGBTQ+ Collective Show

On display in the Stanton Gallery May 31 – June 24, 2022.

Artists who identify with the LGBTQ+ community in our region were invited to participate in this collective show to help show support to those who may be struggling in their identity in this marginalized group. The show represents a group in our community who have felt dismissed, put-down, or otherwise excluded in other galleries, environments, or social communities.

We envision our space as a dynamic and vibrant hub to promote and preserve creativity as part of every human’s daily life.

Clear Lake Arts Center

Artists were encouraged to submit work either about their life & struggles as members of the LGBTQ+ community or artwork that doesn’t inherently pertain to their affiliation in the community. This gives all members of LGBTQ+ community a chance to showcase their work just like we host other themed exhibitions throughout the year for a variety of mediums and groups of artists.

The Clear Lake Arts Center has a well-defined set of core beliefs, and hosting shows of this nature cause our actions to meet our values. Hosting the LGBTQ+ Collaborative Show allows us to embrace aspects of our diverse community we don’t always get to showcase, include artists who might otherwise not fit exhibition criteria, and show that we genuinely want to make the effort for all in the community to have the opportunity to share their love for the arts.

We believe in community by welcoming and engaging all members of our diverse community. We seek input from you, listen with respect, and by offer a variety of activities.

We believe in inclusion by inviting everyone to bring their creativity and uniqueness to the table. Promoting curiosity, considering other perspectives, and working together.

We believe in wholeheartedness by caring about what we do and the community we serve. This is done through compassion and kindness, being sincere and respectful, and connecting and encouraging each other.

Clear Lake Arts Center’s Vision, Mission, and Values

Shows with any type of theme can change one’s interpretation of the work. An artwork of a person can be seen differently when it’s framed in an exhibition of self-portraits vs an exhibition about clothing styles from the past. Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe work might be interpreted differently in a exhibition about Marilyn than an exhibition on LGBTQ+ artists. Looking at work from these different perspectives encourages people to think critically and see the world from another person’s filter. A photographer might focus on composition while a painter might look at the texture of brush strokes, and a financially secure person may see different things in a work than someone struggling to make ends meet. Starting out with the information of the artist’s background can inform the artwork in different ways.

Please stop in to see the amazing work from your peers, neighbors, and even friends represented in the show. Happy Pride Month!

Lake Area Quilters’ Guild Show

On Display May 31 – June 24, 2022

To celebrate Fiber Arts, the Lake Area Quilter’s Guild brought in some of their favorite pieces to be displayed in our mezzanine and J.R. Larson Media Studio. The show embodies multiple different area artists, techniques, and styles.

Lake Area Quilters Guild

Established in 1995, members of the Lake Area Quilters’ Guild share their love of quilting through presentations, trunk shows, demonstrations, and more. They host a biannual quilt show as well as “Share the Quilt Projects” where they donate various items, including baby blankets, throughout the area and neighboring communities. Consisting of 50 current members, the Quilters’ Guild meets on the first Thursday of every month where guests are welcome to attend.

You may attend their meetings on the first Thursdays of the month starting at 6:30pm at the Clear Lake Church of Christ.

Where Will It Take You?

Works by Susan Solomon & Kimberly Tschida Petters

On display May 3 – May 27, 2022.

About the Exhibition

This collaborative show focuses on the art and works of two very different landscape artists. Although their work is distinct, their subjects and inspirations both have deep roots in the Midwest. 

Landscapes are a classic subject in the art world, and these artists made it their own with distinct styles. Modern, simplified shapes contrast beautifully with more literal representations of prairies, storms, and vast horizons. 

This exhibition was made possible by a grant from the Hanson Family Foundation.

About the Artists

Susan Solomon

Susan Solomon is a freelance painter based in the Twin Cities. Originally from Las Vegas, she was influenced by the bright sunsets to create bold colors in her work. She got a formal art education from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Arts, and she continued to become a longtime resident of Minnesota and appreciate the beautiful Midwest landscapes.

Her paintings emphasize the light in darkness often through landscapes, skies, prairies, fields and more. The Midwest changes dramatically over the seasons and between bright skies and storms. Although the weather is temporary, Solomon’s scenes leave a lasting impression in the memory the way a rain leaves a lasting impact on the soil. However, she also feels that “Literature is its own landscape and an endless source of inspiration”. This belief has encouraged her to collaborate with various writers to paint the feelings their stories evoke.

Kimberly Tschida Petters

Kimberly Tschida Petters is a contemporary landscape painter. With a background in Painting and Photography from the University of Minnesota, Petters work is influenced by the landscapes of the Midwest. You can see her work in galleries and shows across Minnesota and Wisconsin and private collections all over the United States. 

Her work focuses on the vastness and calmness of driving in the Midwest while also portraying the mystery and quiet beauty of rural landscapes. These images are ingrained in her memory. She takes simple shapes and forms to create these memories so prevalent to those who have ever enjoyed a ride through the Midwest.

A Sprinkle of Story Seeds

By Layl McDill

About the Exhibit

Using small found objects, polymer clay, her own sketches and more; Layl McDill creates both large and small scale artwork. This show in particular focuses on stories and the complexities or wonders within. Animals and people are hidden in every work, but they all come together to create a larger picture and meaning.

The exhibition has interactive elements of writing stories to display with the work and a scavenger hunt for all to participate in. Viewers are encouraged to look closely at every detail while still seeing the larger representations.

Once upon a time each of us was a little kid. Everything was nonsense. We tried to figure it out. We wondered about everything. We wondered what was in the cupboard, the drawers, and boxes. We wondered how the calculator worked, or the dishwasher or a watch. We wondered what our stuffed animals did at night. We wondered what all the symbols at on the top row of the keyboard were for. We wondered what it would be like to live in a tree, underwater or in outer space.
For me making my art helps me keep this magical doorway to wonderment open. I am drawn to imagery that sparks that feeling of unknown and mystery like cupboards, drawers or placing everyday objects (like a keyhole, a lollipop, a chair etc.) in an incongruent setting (a flower, a fountain, a fish etc.). I like to create metaphors such as “Just think How Books are Like Bird Houses”- are they? I leave you thinking they are but you get to come up with your own reasons why.

McDill on her artistic process

An artist talk will be held from 2-4pm on April 9th.

McDill will also be hosting a Polymer Clay Workshop from 10:30am – 12:30pm on April 30th.

This exhibition was made possible by a grant from the Hanson Family Foundation

About the Artist

Layl McDill

McDill is a mixed media artist based out of the Minneapolis, Minnesota area. She feels joy in her career because she gets to feel like she’s playing through her work. Her work not only makes people smile, but can also help people see the world in a different light. McDIll hopes to make art that “subtly reminds us of reality, yet makes us see the world in new ways.”

“Some people come to my work thinking it is great for children but I really make my work for adults. I make it for everyone that loves to revisit that feeling of wonderment, magic and mystery that we all had as kids.”


Visit her website at

Clear Lake Earth Day Photo Show

The Clear Lake Arts Center is proud to present the second Clear Lake Earth Day Photo Show! The show has been created in partnership with Clear Lake Earth Day to celebrate to beauty of Clear Lake and the surrounding area. The show will be open from Tuesday, April 5th – Friday, April 29th in the Stanton Gallery.

Thank you to all who entered this year. We had a great array of submissions, and we encourage everyone to continue or start taking photos as a means to appreciate nature and our scenic area this Earth Day. Hopefully you keep Earth Day in mind all year round.

Remember to participate in all the Earth Day activities happening on and around April 22nd in the community.

Click on PDF below or use the download button to save to your computer.

View last year’s Show Here

Clear Lake Earth Day Photo Show 2021

North Iowa Student Art Exhibition

About the Exhibit

The North Iowa Student Art Exhibition welcomed schools from Cerro Gordo and the surrounding counties to enter their student’s visual artwork to be shown in our Hanson Gallery. Kindergarten through High School Seniors are represented by their artworks made in school over the past year.

We are honored and amazed to have so many wonderful artists in the region. Thank you to parents and guardians for encouraging your student to create art, and thank you to art instructors for supporting those students throughout the school year.

The Reception Open House will be on Saturday, March 26th from 10am – 4pm. This will be a great opportunity to visit with the artists, educators, and everyone who helped make this show possible.

This exhibition was made possible by a grant from the Hanson Family Foundation, Circle of Giving members Jan and Tom Lovell, and the students and staff of the schools represented.