Public Space ONE

Public Space ONE

Address: 120 N. Dubuque St., Iowa City, IA 52245
John Engelbrecht
Kalmia Strong
Phone: 319.354.2390
Open Hours: We have changing multiple hours for our various spaces. It’s best to call ahead.



How is the project operated?
We are a not for profit arts organization.

How long has it been in existence?
We have been in Iowa City for 10 years, part of the mythic underground tunnel system for the last four.

What was your motivation?
We began as a place for people to present a wide-range of creative work to the public. We hope to be a vehicle that engages and encourages contemporary art discourse. The motivation was simply to do something (put something weird together) that others could enjoy/participate in/be worried about.

Number of organizers/responsible persons of the project.
There are several tiers of important organizers. Currently two people run the organization day-to-day. These two draw on several different circles of support: a) a volunteer group which meets every other week, an advisory committee which meets once a month, and a board of directors which also meets once a month. We are constantly gaining and losing volunteers involved at various levels and to various degrees.

How are programs funded?
Several key fundraisers (art auction, Cheap Art Bazaar) and individual donations drive several aspects of the organization. Studio and space rentals help foot our rent and use costs. Local (city, county, and state) grants supplement and encourage programs, and last year we ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to launch our community print shop, Zenzic Press. We aim to get just enough from our programming to keep the programming going.

Who is responsible for the programming?
Depending on the program, we have various groups of committed volunteers who help make decisions about which art shows or performances to program a schedule on a first-come, first-serve basis for public, cultural events (clubs, readings, music, performances).

Number and average duration of exhibitions/events per year.
Over the past four years, we have put on over fifty art exhibitions, ranging in length from one week to one month. We have twenty-plus events of various sorts per month during the school year, with slower programming during the summer (the nature of Iowa City).

What kind of events are usually organized?
Art exhibitions, screenings, readings, music, dance, and theater performances, and weird happenings (under-planned parades, loosely articulated art workshops, random celebrations…). We also run, co-run, or have run several longer-term programs, including Iowa City Community Supported Art, the Works-in-Progress Festival, a (just-launched!) studio residency, and a monthly micro-grant meal.

How is your programming determined?
First-come, first served balanced and mixed with communal chance operations.

Do you accept proposals/submissions?
Yes! We have more formal open calls for specific programs like the art gallery and the studio residency, but are also always happy to field inquiries from anyone who would like to collaborate or propose an idea.

What is your artistic/curatorial approach?
Balance what comes with whatever weird shit you can think of to make.

What’s working? What’s not working?
We are generally confused about what’s going on and what we’re supposed to be doing. This leads to a spectrum of stress followed by great delight. Something is at least seeming to work well enough that we are still here.

We could be better about promoting and ‘marketing’ events though that is usually not as fun as dreaming of new and strange events to host. Thankfully, our lack of branding has created a well-liked brand in Iowa City.

What kind of role do you hope to play in your local art scene or community?
We are sincerely committed to helping build artistic community and support in Iowa CIty and beyond, and we feel that the best way to do that is to present challenging and weird things and operate in a challenging and weird way.

What idea are you most excited about for the future?
Kitchen + Press + mini-gallery on a pulley system + collaboration.




Images courtesy of Public Space ONE. Photos by John Engelbrecht, unless otherwise noted.

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