Executive Director for the Centre of Arts & Artists Linda Klepinger has been involved with the burgeoning Jasper County art scene for quite some time and credits her immersion to her husband artist Nick Klepinger.
“My husband, moved here from Oregon,” Linda said. “As he was meeting new friends here in Newton, some people noticed that he was often doodling. Someone mentioned to him there was going to be a four evening water color class.”
Nick took the course and Linda said the instructor, Art Benoit told him, “You ought to keep with this, you might make something of it.” Nick took that advice and received some encouragement from Linda.
Nick won the 1976 and 1978 Iowa Duck Stamp competition, Linda said, and winning that contest allowed Nick to sell limited prints of his designs. He picked up a lot of business, so much so that he quit doing carpentry work and needed help, Linda was happy to oblige.
“We opened a small art gallery and custom framing shop in a little old house we used to live in (in Newton),” Linda said. “We had that business just a little bit over 30 years.”
Linda said she enjoyed working at the shop.
“I loved picture framing and working with people,” Linda said. “Just loved it, I very much enjoyed the relationship that was developed through the artworks. When they would bring pictures to be framed, regardless of what it is, they were allowing you into their life and their family’s lives for a little while. I miss those people very much.”
A little more than 30 years later, the Klepinger’s closed their business Klepinger Gallery & Custom Framing. They sold the building that housed the shop, which was now located in Reasnor.
“I used to get a lot of calls, because at one time it was called Klepinger Wildlife Art, from people asking, ‘Do, you stuff birds?’” Linda said jokingly.
Around the same time as they were closing their business, the idea to from CAA was starting to materialize, through a non-profit effort by the Iowa Sculpture Festival. Linda became the executive director of CAA.
“I had some connections, to other artists that we may not have had,” Linda said. “None of this was planned by the way, it’s just the way the domino’s fell. We have been lucky to have incredible volunteers and generous supporters.”
As Executive Director, Linda does it all. She does everything from shoveling snow to writing grants and is thankful to those who helped make it happen. Linda credits First Newton National Bank for their financial support and Dan and Patty Skokan for the propitiatory support in making CAA possible.
CAA Board member and close friend Terri Ayres raved about first meeting Linda in 2002 when she and her husband Jack first moved to Newton.
“I just immediately clicked with her,” Terri said. “She is the most generous, fun person I have met. She never ever complains. She’s just a sweetie and I just love her. I couldn’t have met a better person to meet as a representative of Newton. I just consider her one of my closest friends.”
She is also excited about the upcoming gift shop and gallery that will be created inside of CAA in collaboration with Central College. The gallery will feature everything from classic to modern art, thanks to the Jasper Foundations donation of art from the former Maytag House.
“We began as a grassroots effort,” Linda said. “Upon completion this new artist gift shop/gallery, will showoff quite a portion of the collection that is not able to be shown on a regular daily basis. That is exciting that we will be able to give a forum to the local artists that compromise a deep creative base here in Jasper County.”
Staff Writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641)-792-3121 Ext. 426 or firstname.lastname@example.org