Echoes of Iowa: A Dual Perspective • May 3-31

An exhibition of paintings by local artists John Bissell and Roy Haught.  

Voices Studios

Dubuque's most unique event and exhibition space featuring three galleries and a courtyard.

Beyond the Boundaries

Paintings of John C. Badger (1945-2012)
Abstract Expressionist

Click Here to View Catalog

Beyond the Boundaries is a retrospective exhibition and the sale of the paintings of John. C. Badger (1945 – 2012). The Badger collection consists of many large scale paintings on canvas, suitable for commercial and public environments, as well as smaller works on watercolor paper. Private showings available for interested parties, contact:

Gallery talk about the artist and his work on April 5, 5:30 pm.

Building Community Through the Arts

Headquarters for our Creative Space Making.  A Hub of Creative Practice in the Visual and Performing Arts, all in Dubuque’s most diverse neighborhood.

Thank You City of Dubuque!

Thank you to the City of Dubuque Arts and Cultural Affairs Dept. Special Projects grant that supported the Voices Studios launch event. 

Thank You Iowa Arts Council!

Thank you to Iowa Arts Council for partnering with Voices and Heritage Works on humanities collaboration and meaningful placemaking engagement in the Central Avenue Corridor. 

Thank You DRA!

A HUGE thank you to the DRA for an amazing award of $19,000 to support our vision for arts in the community!

Past Exhibits

Timothy Rees

About Timothy

Timothy Rees began his pursuit of art by moving to Chicago in 2009 to paint in the open studios of the Palette and Chisel Academy. After one year, he joined the staff of instructors, and soon began teaching workshops locally and abroad. In 2012, he moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, where he later created and taught a classical art program for the Scottsdale Artist School. In 2017, he opened an atelier, where between 10 and 15 apprentices studied under Rees at any given time. Three years later, he moved to Iowa, where he paints in his downtown studio.

Throughout his decade of painting, he has appeared in numerous publications. among them Fine Art Connoisseur, International Artist, Southwest Art, and American Art Collector. Rees has won various awards, including first place in Portrait Society of America’s Members-Only Competition, the Art Renewal Center’s Gallery Award, FASO’s Bold Brush Award, and the People’s Choice Award in the SAS Beaux Arts Show and P&C Gold Medal Show.

Evan Ventris

About Evan

Evan Ventris was born and raised on a farm just outside of Garnavillo, Iowa. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Clarke University in 2012, and works primarily in oil paint on panel, digital art, and sculpture. He focuses on landscapes and surrealism and is deeply influenced by his rural surroundings in eastern Iowa. Ventris has a fascination with photorealism and enjoys the challenges this technique offers. The artist has exhibited in both solo and group shows throughout Eastern Iowa, and like Rees, his work has been featured in several publications. 

Thomas Jewell-Vitale

About Thomas

“In my paintings, the edges of shapes yield easily to the spaces around them. They create a variety of changing allegiances, sometimes simultaneously becoming one thing, sometimes another. Like sleight of hand, shapes live hiding, nestling, drifting, absorbed, material and immaterial. In these paintings, the images often have no clean cut boundaries and I came to realize that by avoiding them and by simulating light, intuitively, this is how I have tried to replicate mystery”.

Thomas Jewell-Vitale is an artist who lives and works in Iowa where he is a Professor of Art at Loras College.

Dominique Winders

About Dominique

Dominique creates collage and mixed media embellished acrylic paintings re-interpreting history with images suggesting scraps of memory and surreal dreamscapes. Using lenticular and 3-D materials, mirrors and bright shiny things, her work is loaded with detail, symbolism and depth.

Introduced to high gothic architecture as a child, “The Cathedral Project”, combines the artist’s French heritage with her Midwestern roots. By using mixed media and rare, tin, barn roof shingles as her canvas, she bridges the spiritual world invoked by gothic masterpieces with rustic architecture. The work integrates historic facades, caryatids, icons and metal embellishments to create a dreamy homage inspired by man-made wonders.

Melissa Middleberg

A World Gone Away

About Melissa

Melissa has had a lifelong fascination with old family photos. She invites you to join her on a search through her colorful paintings: eavesdrop on a phone call, go grocery shopping in Mill Basin, come see the new baby, eat a bagel on the lower east side of Manhattan. She has studied at the New York Academy of Art, The Art Students League, and under the tutelage of painter Lisa Zwerling. She has shown her work at 440 Gallery in Brooklyn, O’Flaherty’s in Manhattan, and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Al-Qawi Nanavati

Unfinished Conversations

About Al-Qawi

Nanavati’s art practice is an amalgamation of printmaking, painting, and textiles. She is heavily influenced by meditation, prayer, and repetition along with the aftermath of loss and its manifestation in one’s own life. She completed her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a Postgraduate Certification in Indian Aesthetics from Jnanapravaha, Mumbai. She is co-founder of Young Art Support, an online platform that promotes, exhibits, and sells work of young artists commission free.

Georgie Nakima

About Georgie

Georgie is a multidisciplinary artist and muralist based out of Charlotte, NC. After honing in on her artistry at Northwest School of the Arts, Georgie attended Winston-Salem State University with intention of further exploring the natural world. Her studies in Life Sciences have fueled her insight in environment preservation and philosophy, which transcends through her work’s subject matter. Her work pays homage to the African and Indigenous diaspora while highlighting nature and biodiversity. Georgie is an AT&T Black Future Makers honoree.

Driftless Area – Scenic Art Loop

About Scenic Art Loop

With more than 100 miles of artist studios and galleries, the Scenic Art Loop is definitely one of a kind—and not to be missed! The self-guided Monthly Art Drive provides an inspiring adventure for art lovers of all kinds. Five regional artists from the Scenic Art Loop were recently featured in the Joan Mulgrew Gallery:

  • Ben Brummerhop, Mineral Point, WI
  • Jenna Lueck, Balltown, IA
  • Rabecca Jayne Hennessey, Guttenberg, IA
  • Kathryn Baxa, Galena, IL
  • Laura Larabee, Monticello, IA

Amy Carani


About Amy Carani

Sometimes known as Amy SquarePaints, Amy Carani is a visual artist that draws inspiration from pop culture. Knowing visual art does not have the mass appeal of pop culture, she creates colorful acrylic paintings with precise geometric shapes that guide popular themes on square canvases. By connecting pop culture and her geometric painting style, Amy creates an easy accessibility for those that may not be familiar with visual art.

Becky Sisco

Mural Microcosm

About Becky Cisco

Becky Sisco has been passionate about photography for more than 50 years. She can lose herself in the colors, textures, and lines–as well as the meaning–in whatever she shoots. The downtown murals caught her attention for their artistic value and for what they said about cultural change in Dubuque and the idea that art belongs to everyone.

Sisco reflects “As a photographer, I wanted to create my own compositions from art that already existed, to collaborate with the muralists in a way, even though I wasn’t involved in their process and hadn’t even met them.”.

Wendy Rolfe

About Wendy Rolfe

Wendy S. Rolfe creates with a unique visual vocabulary and creative juxtapositions. Her oil paintings are influenced by her early studies in Philosophy, Psychology and Religion, particularly the Desert Fathers of the third century wisdom tradition with a small emphasis on Platonism and Freud. Rolfe was effected by her travels throughout Europe, Mexico and Central America . She writes, “Latin culture, specifically the Christian elements in combination with psychology play a significant role in my work.’’

Rolfe studied at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco, Parsons School of Design in New York and Le Atelier D’ Etampe in Paris. She executed many commissioned pieces for corporations in the 90’s, particularly in New York City, Southern California and the Southwest.

Thérèse Mulgrew

About Thérèse Mulgrew

Thérèse Mulgrew (b. 1991) grew up just outside of Dubuque, Iowa. Influenced by her mother’s surreal oil paintings and her grandmother’s impressionist still life, she began to cultivate her own style which focuses mainly on depicting large-scale portraits and nostalgic still life in oil paint. Her paintings represent an attempt to explore vulnerability and intimacy.

She took a variety of studio art classes at the University of Iowa, where she graduated as an English literature major in 2013. Immediately after, she moved to NYC where she worked in the fashion photo industry and studied at The Art Students League and New York Studio School of Painting, Drawing, and Sculpture. Her first solo exhibition took place in NYC in 2020.

She currently resides in Chicago, IL.

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2004 The Beginning

A group of kindred spirits hatch a plan to activate the shuttered Millwork District through the transformative power of the arts.


Sun Times – Murals & Mosaics Newsletter

 Today’s edition was compiled by Sun-Times reporter Robert Herguth.

Dubuque, Iowa, has been called the “masterpiece on the Mississippi” for its hilly natural beauty and proximity to the Mississippi River. Now, the city of about 60,000 residents on the Illinois border is becoming known for a different kind of beauty — murals. “It’s a river town with working-class roots, but we’re entering a new era, and it’s kind of interesting,” says Sam Mulgrew, whose Voices Productions nonprofit has been a force behind the push for more public art. “The cultural life of Dubuque is taking on a new form.”

A mural in Dubuque done in 2018 by artists WERC and GERALUZ. | Travel Dubuque

Dubuque has about 60 murals, according to Mulgrew, all done since 2015. Some were painted to give a lift to an area, others to spur cultural tourism and help add to the vibe of a city aiming to attract and keep young residents.

The Brooklyn artist who goes by WERC has done several murals in Dubuque, including one shown above, titled “America Needs a Hug” and created in 2018 with his partner in life and art, known as GERALUZ.

“It’s inspired by an old currency note,” according to WERC, and includes “a goddess who’s holding lightning, and she’s supported by an eagle.”

A mural in Dubuque called “Owl Moon.” Done by the artist who goes by WERC in 2018, it’s since been painted over. | Travel Dubuque

Across the street, WERC did another mural the same year, “Owl Moon,” touching on “femininity, wisdom, beauty” but which since was unexpectedly painted over.

Other murals in Dubuque have purposely been given a limited shelf life. Like one done in 2021 by the Connecticut artist who goes by ARCY that celebrates two baseball pioneers with ties to Dubuque and to the White Sox: Charles Comiskey and Red Faber.

A baseball-themed mural in Dubuque painted by Connecticut artist DARCY in 2021. | Travel Dubuque

Comiskey, one of the founders of the American League, was a longtime owner of the Sox who once played for the Dubuque Rabbits minor-league team.

Faber was a Sox pitcher from 1914 to 1933 who played college and minor-league ball in Dubuque and was among the last pitchers allowed to throw a spitball, having been grandfathered in to keep using it when the pitch was banned.

Mulgrew says that mural was on a wall that’s meant to be repainted every year or two with new art, and it’s already been replaced.

Douglas Hoekzema, a Miami artist known as Hoxxoh, painted this mural, titled “Portal,” in Dubuque in 2018. | Provided

Above and below are a couple of other cool paintings in Dubuque. Both were done by artists from Miami. Both were done in 2018.

Above, by Douglas Hoekzema. Below, Luis Valle. Above, kind of mind melt.

Below, an “ode” to Dubuque, with Mother Nature, the town’s bridge, catfish and sandhill cranes.

A mural in Dubuque done by artist Luis Valle, who goes by El Chan Guri. | Travel Dubuque

Dubuque Mayor Brad Cavanagh says of the public paintings, “All in all, I think it’s been a wonderful addition to the city . . . I’d love to see more.”

A lot more to see and read about if you click here and access a longer story in the Chicago Sun-Times, as part of our weekly “Murals and Mosaics” series.

Ok I misled you, there’s a little more to share about the Dubuque artwork.

While the murals involve artists from all over the country, there are some Chicago connections.

Like to the mural shown below, done in 2015 by the South Side artist who goes by ZorZorZor, who we’ve featured a couple times in our space.

A mural in Dubuque done by Chicago artist ZorZorZor in 2015. | Provided

We caught up with her and she gave us a rundown on her Iowa art:

“I painted this character on instinct, with no plan, and when I look at it now, it just reflects who I was at that time. Feminine but tough, with a sort of armored shell, deep in myself. Content. I always feel that my deep ancestral soul comes out in these characters, as if this painting is a past life portrait of who I was. Some sort of a warrior, to still be here today. The lilac flower was placed there to protect my heart.”

She adds, “What made painting this piece so memorable was the lasting effect it had on the town. People LOVED it. There were non stop photoshoots in front of it. It was the first official piece of ‘Street Art’ in Dubuque! And it spearheaded the downtown mural takeover.”

A new mural in Moline, part of the Quad Cities in far western Illinois. | Provided

Moline, a city in far western Illinois along the Mississippi River and bordering Iowa, has had other murals. But it got its first as part of a new push on public art. And the artists? WERC and GERALUZ, who were mentioned above.

The artists GERALUZ, left, and WERC. | Provided

Kevin Maynard, executive director of the Quad City Arts nonprofit which helped oversee the project, says “the arts drive tourism, beautification, create civic pride.”

The interesting thing, as I see it, is that the organizers of this mural didn’t, says Maynard, want “a welcoming message or river motif.”

Rather, “they wanted this to make a big impact and show what public art can do, especially in our region,” and significantly “left it up to the artists.”

Please click here to read a little more.

A sculpture of a wild turkey, by Brooklyn artist Wendy Klemperer. | Provided

So it’s Thanksgiving week, obviously. I wanted to end this dispatch with a nod to the esteemed turkey. Above, a sculpture of a wild one, by Brooklyn artist Wendy Klemperer.

Her web site says: “The imagery that pervades my work reflects a lifelong fascination with animals. To make the large-scale sculptures I search scrap yards for industrial refuse ravaged by usage and demolition. Bent and twisted, such pieces contain energy and potential new life.”

More wild turkey sculptures by Wendy Klemperer. | Provided

She says about wild turkeys, “I love the way they look, they look like dinosaurs . . . they have so many different gestures . . . and their plumage is really incredible.”

Klemperer told us something I didn’t know, that “they were hunted almost to the point of extinction” more than a century ago. She marvels at how “they’ve come back and are thriving.”


Thanks for reading the Murals & Mosaics newsletter! Check out other newsletters from the Sun-Times ranging from general morning news to high school sports here.

If you want a copy of our two-year murals/mosaics anniversary magazine, click here, copies are just $4.99 apiece.

Got a mural or other piece of public art you’d like us to look into? Send an email to and we’ll check it out. Have a great weekend!

Robert Herguth, Sun-Times