Celebrating 15 years – ArtHaus hosts birthday party and carnival May 6

By By Larry Sells

ArtHaus in Decorah is celebrating 15 years of art, theater, writing and dance with a 15th birthday party dinner and carnival gala Saturday, May 6, from 5:30 to 9 p.m., with events at both ArtHaus and Convergence Ciderworks.


ArtHaus established itself in 2008 as an art and cultural center by offering several unique-to-the- area activities at 305 W. Water Street in Decorah. Early offerings included activities, art shows, art classes, home brew, — before any of the breweries were around — language, theater classes, live music and in early days, poetry readings. 

Founders Lea Lovelace and Kristen Underwood had a particular vision for ArtHaus. Underwood said, “Lea (Lovelace) and I envisioned a home for the arts and quality arts education for all ages. We wanted a bright, street-level studio that would be a visible and accessible part of the fabric of downtown Decorah. From the beginning, we prioritized building a scholarship fund -— another aspect of accessibility. The vision hasn’t really changed since opening in 2008, it just adapts, expands and grows. Fifteen years later, it’s still expanding and responding to the strengths of the director and the imagination of the teaching artists and the community it serves. I think I can speak for both of us when I say that we feel like proud parents whose offspring is thriving!”

Executive Director Shannon Dallenbach Durbin noted the vision for ArtHaus is to see generations of northeast Iowa residents to explore their creative side at ArtHaus. 

ArtHaus moved from its Water Street address to its current address at 107 W. Broadway three years ago. 

“At the old location we were open two to three days a week with three classes a week. The community asked for more hours and days. We helped to make it happen. Now at the new location we are open six days a week with classes every day and open studio every day.” Durbin further explained, “We have incorporated the clay studio and a West Music Kiosk. We have tripled the number of students, both kids and adults.”

Event details

A sold-out dinner with presentations and awards will be held from 5:30-7 p.m. at Convergence Ciderworks. Following, a birthday carnival gala for grown-ups will be held until 9 p.m. featuring mini golf, cake walks, whiskey walks, glaze a ceramic cupcake and more in the ArtHaus parking lot. Also on display at Doyle G. Heyveld Gallery will be artwork of past artists who have taught or displayed at ArtHaus over the years. 

For a portion of the night, attendees will have the chance to watch ceramic artists compete in a pottery throwdown featuring several exciting challenges that will put their skills to the ultimate test, including number of pots thrown in five minutes, tallest cylinder blind folded and more.  

A youth party will be held at Decorah Lutheran. Find more info at Eventbrite.

The event is free to the public and carnival tickets are available at the door or in advance on Eventbrite.  

A silent auction is already live at www.32auctions.com/15years and features items from local businesses, including a private concert with Lissie for 30 friends, an e-bike, music festival tickets and more.

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