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Art league’s “ClayFest” show relocates to Roseville gallery

By: Carol Percy, Reporter Lincoln News Messenger
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The 1-year-old Art League of Lincoln has taken its feats out of town.

The iconic Feats of Clay art show, sponsored by the now closed Lincoln Arts at the Gladding, McBean factory for 24 years, was recently reborn as the Art League of Lincoln’s inaugural America's ClayFest. The nonprofit art league has moved the inaugural show to a Roseville gallery.

According to an Art League of Lincoln press release Monday, the clay art exhibit will be displayed from May 10 to June 1 at Blue Line Arts in Roseville.

In January, art league representatives were told by Gladding, McBean officials that the public was no longer allowed inside the factory because of Americans with Disabilities Act concerns.

“The Art League of Lincoln was unable to secure a suitable location in Lincoln that would accommodate this year’s show, thus forcing a move to a different location,” according to the press release.

Some of the venues discussed included the second floor of the old City Hall facing Beermann Plaza and 580 Sixth St., home of the former Lincoln Arts association, according to Jean Cross, the league’s executive director.

“Unable to come to a timely agreement with the city, ALL pulled up stakes and moved to Roseville,” Cross said.

The city of Lincoln was willing to lease the 580 Sixth St. property to the art league, according to an e-mail from Amanda Norton, the city’s housing and special projects coordinator for development services. The agreement, offered by City Council, would rent the 580 Sixth St. facility for $1, with the art league paying utilities. The lease would have run from March 1 until June 30  “as requested,” with the option for a month-to-month rental after that date, according to Norton’s e-mail.

The 580 Sixth St. space offered by the city “was too small to accommodate ClayFest’s 79-piece exhibit and time was running out for the group,” Cross said.

The art league’s president, Paul Apfel, agreed with Cross.

“While some local merchants are reportedly unhappy that the show won't be held here (in Lincoln) and we at the art league sympathize with those feelings, we had to make a decision by a certain deadline in order to secure a venue and arrange for the delivery of the art which is being shipped from various locations throughout the U.S.,” he said.

The organization’s request to lease the second floor of old City Hall “met with no success,” Apfel said. “The City Council did not respond to our e-mails or formal presentation at a recent (City Council) meeting. Thus, we moved the event.”

On Tuesday, The News Messenger e-mailed Lincoln Mayor Stan Nader for his comments about the art league going to Roseville. As of press time Wednesday, Nader had not replied.

Councilman Spencer Short said he “didn’t choose to comment.”

“Although the city tried to help the art league find a new space,” according to Lincoln Councilman Paul Joiner, the group’s tight deadline for the upcoming ClayFest exhibit and the city’s available locations “weren’t compatible.”

“The city offered them the building that their predecessor, Lincoln Arts, had been in for many years plus the gallery space in the rotunda of City Hall directly across the street,” Joiner e-mailed The News Messenger. “That space, from their perspective, was inadequate for their needs, given their tight schedule.”
“Absent the Gladding, McBean tours and the gala reception, this event ceased to be a ‘Feats of Clay’ type event and effectively became an art exhibit, Joiner stated. “What the art league needed was gallery space and the Blue Line Gallery was able to provide them with that on short notice. My understanding is that the league will make every effort to return the show to Lincoln next year.”

Cross said the Art League of Lincoln “is grateful” for the Blue Line Gallery “but hopes to return” to Lincoln for future art events.

“We’re completely open to suggestions and hope that we’ll find a home in Lincoln as soon as possible,” she said.

Seventy-nine ceramic art will be displayed at the Blue Line Gallery, according to the press release. The Blue Line gallery is at 405 Vernon St., Suite 100, in Roseville.

ClayFest’s opening reception and 3rd Saturday Art Walk will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. May 18.

For more information, call Blue Line Arts at 783-4117. Admission to the ClayFest exhibit is free.