Preparing for the February freeze

Jacob Lane · Wednesday, January 29, 2014
WLAAC is back, ready to turn the cold and ice into a creative paradise.

The West Liberty Area Arts Council, which specializes in bringing artistic endeavors to town, will be hosting "Fighting the February Freeze," a chance for the community to express itself.

"The purpose of the classes are to have a creative outlet for people in the winter months when there are less activities going on," said WLAAC Treasurer and event organizer Janet Rees.

Art classes, which will mainly be offered in February, range from linoleum block printing, mask making, drawing and photography. Rees emphasized that they're meant for beginners.

In fact, many beginners have taken the classes in the past only to discover a love for art.

"We've had several situations where people, who really had no experience in art at all, started taking classes. They really opened up through these classes" said Rees. "They have spent six years now, or so, in art, continuing to work and do things. It was an appreciation that they had no idea they had until they took these classes."

The classes were originally offered in the late 2000s. They typically last for about a month and, depending on the class, sessions can last from one to three hours once or twice a week. It's a month-long commitment, but also a month-long chance to try something new.

The funding for the project primarily comes from the Ryan Trust. While it still costs $20 a person to take a class, Rees believes the cost is much less than what would typically be seen anywhere else.

"It's an affordable opportunity to work on art skills, many other places offer classes through the schools like community colleges. They last a lot longer and cost more," said Rees. "This is just very affordable for people in the community who want to have that opportunity."

Classes are structured around the teacher and what he or she believes are important aspects of the art. Some classes, like ceramics, can be intensive while others are lighter in content.

WLAAC has championed art programs in schools in the community and is well known for the Summer Concert Series that brings musicians to Ron-De-Voo Park in the warmer months.

However, not all months are warm. WLAAC saw an opportunity to bring creativity during a time when so many have little to do in winter.

Rees is running a colored pencil drawing course. She was an art teacher in Topeka, Kan., and enjoys offering her expertise to the community.

"I just enjoy it so much, I just really enjoy giving people opportunities," she said. "I just want to stress the fact that people shouldn't be intimidated. The instructors are very open to new students who are interested."

For those interested in registering for classes, contact Janet Rees at 319-745-0036 or email

Though the days may be cold and short, the opportunities are still there.
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