Guttenberg Creativity Center to introduce Riera-Gomez at Oct. 10 event

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Local artist Joshua Riera-Gomez will take over managerial responsibilities at The Guttenberg Creativity Center. A meet and greet event is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 10, at 6 p.m. (Press photo by Caroline Rosacker)

By Caroline Rosacker

The Guttenberg Gallery and Creativity Center, located at 214 South River Park Drive, is transitioning from dedicated volunteer, founder and Director Cindy Olsen  to volunteer Joshua Riera-Gomez. 

Meet and Greet

Join them for a Meet and Greet event on Thursday, Oct. 10, at 6 p.m. to introduce Riera-Gomez to the community. 

Olsen said, "Volunteer board members will be grilling and serving complimentary hamburgers, cheeseburgers and hot dogs. Josh will be free to share his vision for this organization and/or just have a friendly chat." An assortment of beverages can be purchased to complement your meal at the Courtyard Cafe located inside the gallery.

Where it all began

Olsen told The Press, "In 2006 I wrote the grant obtaining the gallery's non-profit status. I secured the building with a handshake from Keith Elwick, and put in $5,000 dollars of my personal money to jump-start the project."

She continued, "With the help of many dedicated volunteers, and grant money awarded from the Upper Mississippi Gaming Corporation (UMGC), and McElroy Trust grants, volunteers were able to restore the building's first floor to begin the after-school program." 

Guttenberg art supporters rallied together to support the cause.  "With a great deal of community support, and endless online voting crews, we were awarded the Pepsi Grant, which allowed us to completely renovate the building, including the kitchen and the Courtyard. Pepsi funds also provided much-needed operating money, something most grantees don’t," she explained. 

Olsen will continue to remain an active, hands-on member of the creativity board. “It is my pleasure to transition and support Josh as our new director – now – and moving forward. In addition, I am looking forward to pursuing and finishing my many half-finished art projects," she said. 

New management

Joshua Riera-Gomez, a native of Florida, currently resides in Garnavillo. He is employed full time in the area, in addition to his volunteer commitment at the creativity center. The self-taught artist shared, "One of the questions I am most frequently asked, is 'how did I end up here?' I could tell you that it was like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, or about the bad moments that made me want to run back home. It definitely wasn't because I loved winter — even though my first snowman was a joyful attempt! However, it all comes down to one thing – faith. I trust my journey to lead me." 

He continued, "I would like to open doors that may have been overlooked, and to assist someone in becoming the best versions of themselves through art. We are all a canvas – our life to be painted." 

Riera-Gomez expressed his gratitude, "I am grateful to have the Creativity Center permit me this opportunity. I was astonished when I discovered this place. Director Cindy Olsen, and many community volunteers, have worked very hard to create this amazing establisment." 

The recipient of the Art By the River Merchants Award shared his vision for the community's creativity center. "My intention is to keep the creativity center's non-profit status, and keep area youth involved in the arts. I would like to open the doors to a field they may not have availability to in school," he said. 

The Creativity Center's art studio is located in the upstairs portion of the historic limestone building. Riera-Gomez explained, "We have wheel pottery, pottery painting, stained glass, mosaics, glass fusion, ceramics and jewelry making for all ages, naming only a few." 

The street-level gallery is a retail destination housing artwork from various local and regional artists. "There is something for everyone in a variety of price ranges," Riera-Gomez noted. A new addition to the creativity center and art studio is The Courtyard Cafe. "The Courtyard Cafe is a great addition to the Creativity Center. The cafe is a student-driven culinary arts initiative with the assistance of adult volunteers. We have had a very successful summer, especially with our specialty drinks," Olsen shared.

New hours 

The Creativity Center will be limiting its hours of operation beginning in September. "We will be closed to the public throughout the winter so we can brainstorm and get things ready for the upcoming tourist season. We would like to re-market and restructure the Creativity Center for a fresh start in May of 2020. We will continue to take reservations for private parties, but will limit the hours of operation for walk-in traffic," Riera-Gomez explained. 

Beginning in September, the Creativity Center will be open to the public on Fridays, from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. through October. In November limited hours will be on Saturdays only from 10 a.m. -3 p.m. through Dec. 21. 

Gathering place

Riera-Gomez told The Press, "Our gallery, art studio and courtyard are available for rent by the hour. Reservations are required and your party must have a minimum of four people. Gather your friends, family or co-workers and utilize our full service kitchen, large assortment of art supplies and indoor and outdoor seating for your next private event." 

Private parties can be scheduled by calling 252-2787 or through the  center's Facebook page or website at http://www.guttenbergcreativitycenter.com.

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