“Art is such an expression. It can be angry, and it can be sad; it can be happy, it can be anything. It just helps us to get our emotions out and that is a healthy thing – especially for children. It is an escape and transports us to a different place and we are better for it,” explained Amy Thompson, owner of ArtSUX. For years, she had a vision of a place for local artists to work together, learn from each other, and share with each other. On July 23, 2021, that vision began a reality at 515 4th Street, Sioux City, Iowa.
Amy and her friend, Kristin, had been creating and sharing art with each other for years. A few years ago, they began sharing a space with a couple other artists in the Ho-Chunk Center. While it was a good start to the vision, they knew almost immediately the space was too small. The interest from artists was strong and there was additional vision to create workshop opportunities for kids to explore art as well. Amy said, “We knew right away we had to step up our search for a building.” She and her husband, Matt, had been looking casually for a building for several years. Amy continued, “We walked into the former Carlton’s building and, even though it was torn apart, we both saw what we wanted it to be immediately. We saw where the walls should be, where the coffee shop would go, where the kids’ area would go.”
ArtSUX offers free kids’ creation workshops periodically at the studio. The goal is to encourage kids to explore different types of art, provide them the tools and materials needed, and let them take home what doesn’t get finished. “We want art to be part of what they do all the time,” Thompson noted. Parents can learn about the workshops by following the ArtSUX Facebook page.
Hardline Coffee is located in ArtSux, drawing members of the public into the space to enjoy local art on display. In addition to the open gallery, 22 local artists have individual studio space in the building. Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. is designated open studio time. During that time frame, many of the artists open their studios and are available to talk with the public about their pieces, answer questions, provide background stories, and share their passion for creating. Amy explained, “It’s a little bit of a maze through the studio space and it is amazing. We are all different genres and styles; it is really fun to walk through and see what people are doing. Each artist has a piece on display in the open gallery as well.”
If you walk up the orange staircase, you’ll find five additional artists. “That is the most beautiful space besides the main gallery of the building in my mind. We kept it almost exactly as we found it – from the 1970s. We kept the vinyl, the signage from the business originally there, the rooms are beautiful.” Amy said.
“Through collaboration the three galleries and the Art Center are creating an art walk this summer. It begins at the Art Center, goes to the Ho-Chunk Center where there is Three Rivers Gallery, Gallery 103 and continues to the ArtSUX gallery. It is an amazing event that everyone should come to at least once.” Thompson explains. “You begin with national artists and then proceed to local galleries and local artists, it’s a wonderful progression. We are hoping Vanguard Arts might join in the future. It’s a celebration of art.” Walks will be held in July and October – watch for details and rediscover downtown Sioux City and the beauty of local art all around you.
By Dr. Cyndi Hanson