Summer Artist Feature, Will Hildebrandt and Molly Frese

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We invite you to take pART in an evening filled with art, food, drinks + live music!

Join us for the Summer Artist Series hosted at The Outlet Co-Work & Space in Downtown Marshalltown. The June event will feature local artists Will Hildebrandt and Molly Frese, curated by Josh Cox, along with live music from Buz Owen and food by Missy Sharer-Pieters. These events are free and open to the public.

  • WHEN: Friday, June 14th from 5-8pm + Friday, August 2nd from 5-8pm
  • WHERE: The Outlet Co-Work & Space / 119 E. Main Street in Marshalltown

As part of the Arts + Culture Alliance’s Summer Artist Series, we want to highlight the unique challenges and rewards of being a working artist in a small town. We love living and working in Marshalltown and, while we recognize that our town doesn’t have the same cultural quantity and impact of larger metropolitan centers, we celebrate the way in which local artists work within (and are rewarded by) the unique qualities of our small town.

Being a successful working artist doesn’t just mean supporting yourself financially as an artist.  Nor does it mean just making things in your spare time or showing off your skills to your family and friends. Being a successful working artist means that you’re making artwork that is personal and significant to you as the maker and that what you’re making is having a dialogue with the public. A picture (or object [or performance]) doesn’t transcend into art until it’s activated upon by the viewer.

For artists to be successful in any public place, let alone a small Midwest town, they have to push themselves to engage with the public and continue to make artwork in a place that might have limited cultural resources, an audience that can be hard to cultivate, and fit all of that into a family and work schedule that can be especially overbearing in times.

With that in mind, the ACA celebrates all of our working artists and are so excited to share them and their work with you. We invite you to learn more about our two featured visual artists participating in the June Summer Artist Series!


My wife and I came to Marshalltown in 1979 after completing our Master’s degree from UNI. She was hired by Marshalltown School and I worked for Fullerton Lumber Company. After a year I was hired to be the High School art teacher at LDF, now East Marshall. I taught there for 28 years. We liked the size of the communities of Le Grand and Marshalltown and their proximity to larger cities.

I built a studio on the back of my garage which allows me to come and go as I please leaving. I can leave everything out and return to it whenever I want. I usually go to the studio daily. Sometime I work, sometimes I plan. I usually listen to music. I do watch TV sometimes.

I consider myself a professional artist, entering shows in the state and Midwest region. I am a founding member and signature member of the Iowa Pastel Society. I have met many good painters and workshop presenters are nationally known.

I enjoy small town living. It gave my kids opportunities that might not have been available to them in a larger school. My exposure and opportunities as practicing artist have increased with technology, but I still think that a physical presence in the community is important. In the past I have had exhibits in the Fisher Community Center, MCC Ray Frederick Gallery, Art Walk and The Brooks Gallery.

I am excited by the new opportunities the ACA are proposing and hope to have more exposure locally as a result.

“Bloom where you are planted.”



Briefly explain your history in Marshalltown.  What brought you here and what keeps you here?

  • Marshalltown has been home to me for most of my life. I moved away to study art for 7 years, but returning to Marshalltown felt right. The creative communities here feel small but mighty.

Can you discuss your studio working practice? Are you able to maintain a consistent studio schedule? If not, what are your obstacles and how do you work around those?

  • I have always been an artist who values the process. I have multiple pieces in the works at any given time. My studio schedule is inconsistent, but I still put in lots of work each week. With my studio being right in my home, I’m able to pick up a piece whenever I get the creative urge. Creative block is the obstacle I face the most often, but I prioritize making mindless, simple studies when that arises.

Describe your studio set-up. Do you have a designated space to work? Provide a pic if possible.  What conditions do you work best under? Do you listen to music while you work?  TV? Podcasts?

  • When I returned to Marshalltown, I was grateful to find a home with a space I could use as a designated studio. I have three easels up for painting at most times and a drafting table for any drawing or printing work. I am in the process of curating a space that feels like me and keeps the ideas flowing. My space is full of thrifted knickknacks, art I’ve collected over the years, potential reference books and photos, and my plants. I work best when I have a podcast, audiobook, or music playing in the space.

What are your goals as an artist? Do you try to sell your work? How often do you show your work? Do you apply for shows or are you invited?  Who is your target audience?

  • My art goals have shifted quite a bit this year. I have been eager to apply to any shows I feel would suit me, and I’ve been lucky to show work throughout Iowa and the Midwest within the last year. I do receive frequent invites to show as well. I tend to jump at the opportunity to share my work and story with other people. Whether I aim to sell my art or not tends to be dependent on the piece.

Do you consider yourself a professional artist? A practicing artist? A “Sunday painter”?

  •  I consider myself a practicing and professional artist. While creating my personal art is not my primary form of income, I always consider myself an artist first.

Do you have an artist network you identify with? How do you stay connected with an artistic community? What are the challenges to staying connected or finding a community?

  •  I have been grateful to have connected with rich artistic communities throughout Iowa. I have several friends right here in Marshalltown who motivate me. I also stay involved in art festivals throughout the state, and those offer lots of opportunities to network and create lasting relationships amongst local artists. One of my favorites is Iowa Pop Art Fest in Cedar Rapids. Remaining connected can be difficult, but starting chat groups with other artists has been successful for boosting events and such.

As an artist in a small rural town, what do you think are your biggest obstacles to achieving your goals? Are there benefits to your studio practice in living and working in a small town?

  • Being in a small town means that I can afford to have a nice sized workspace in my home, but I often have to travel for events. Having more third spaces in Marshalltown for folks to show art could be so beneficial to local artists. That is why I am looking forward to this summer artist series specifically.

How have you found that living and working in a small rural town has affected either your artistic career/studio practice or identity as an artist?

  • My identity as an artist has shifted quite a lot since being back in town. I feel that I have discovered more of my personal voice. Maybe that has come with the comfort of being home.


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