Arts Court looks to enhance the arts in Jones Co., Eastern Iowa

The former Collins building at 107 N. Garnavillo St. in Anamosa is now in the hands of Arts Court, a non-profit focused on enhancing the arts in Jones County and Eastern Iowa. An open house is planned for March 27. (Photo by Kim Brooks)

Catherine Jones-Davies, an Arts Court board member, works on a colorful banner for the front of the Collins building. Many artists are members of the all-volunteer board. (Photo submitted)
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     In an effort to “enhance the culture and education through visual and performance arts” in Eastern Iowa, Arts Court was born.

     The organization, officially known as Arts Court Visual & Performance, was established in 2014. They received their non-profit status in 2015.

     Then, in 2017, a fire devastated downtown Anamosa, causing members to pause any involvement or furtherance of Arts Court.

     Now, after the recent purchase of the 21,000-square-foot Collins building on N. Garnavillo Street in Anamosa, Arts Court is ready to share their love of art with all of Jones County and the Eastern Iowa corridor.

     “We’re in the middle of so many big cities where traveling groups could stop here and have a performance in our event center,” noted KC Wortman, vice president of Arts Court.

     While the vision for Arts Court changed a bit over the years as they found their footing, they welcome the public to attend an open house at their new location to see what they’re all about.

     “We never gave up on the idea of having a building of our own,” noted Wortman.

     The event will be held on Sunday, March 27, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Collins building, 107 N. Garnavillo St. (behind F&M Bank), in Anamosa. There will be some fundraising activities such as painting tiles that visitors can take part in for a fee. The entire second floor will be used as a roller-skating rink; the public is encouraged to bring their skates. There will also be live music (Ron LaFleur), wine from Lubben Wines, and refreshments served.

     The building was built in 1922 by Rockwell Collins. It was used as a shirt factory and produced shirts for members of the military.

     Inside there will be a stage for live performances, a full kitchen, bar, and gallery, classrooms, meeting space, along with living quarters for an artist in residence who would oversee the facilities operations.

     Several years ago, Arts Court had looked at a couple of other buildings in downtown Anamosa. But, Wortman said the Collins building “is much bigger and we’re able to do a lot more.”

     One of Arts Court’s biggest projects as of late was the mural on the building at the intersection of Main Street and N. Ford Street.

     “That project came out of our Hometown Pride group,” explained Wortman. “Arts Court received a grant and funding to do a mural, and we wanted to collaborate with multiple artists.”

     The mural welcomes visitors to Anamosa, depicting various images that represent the city, such as Grant Wood’s American Gothic and PumpkinFest.

     “It was all local artists,” noted Wortman of those who had a hand in the work of art, including two high school students.

     The mural was completed just in time for RAGBRAI’s visit in 2021.

     Wortman said there is a lot of excitement about the Collins building as ideas start to flow and blueprints are laid out. She credits her father-in-law for the initial interest in the building.

     “He asked what I thought about it and I just called the owners,” she said, as simple as that. “The owners have been really great to work with. It stayed empty for 20 years, but it’s a solid building.”

     The main floor will be the first to be renovated so Arts Court can start bringing in revenue.

     “We can even rent space out to artists,” suggested Wortman.

     The second floor will remain a roller rink for the time being, the last floor to see any major work done.

     The basement is expected to house what Wortman refers to as “messy art,” screen printing and clay.

     “We drew up multiple floor plans over and over again until we were able to figure it all out,” said Wortman.

     As an artist herself, Wortman knows the struggle when it comes to funding beginning artists’ work.

     “There are no grants available for artists or musicians,” she said.

     Working with the state’s cultural affairs office, Wortman said they might be able to connect Arts Court to artists looking into becoming an artist in residence.

     “They would be given living quarters versus pay or a stipend,” she said. “They would work and live here and do classes. They could make extra money selling in the gallery.”

     Wortman said while they’ve existed for some time now, many people are still not familiar with Arts Court or what they do, or even that they still exist.

     To find out more about Arts Court, visit their Facebook page “Arts Court Visual and Performance.” You can also contact Wortman at 319-821-1424 or

     Those serving on the Arts Court board include:

     • Karen Block, president

     • Wortman, vice president

     • Derek Lumsden, secretary

     • Tim Fay

     • Xene Abraham

     • Catherine Jones-Davies

     • Isabelle Arnessa Bella Edwards

     • LeeAnna Boone

     • Donna Zimmerman


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