James and Meryl

For well over three decades, the James and Meryl Hearst Center for the Arts in Cedar Falls has provided venues for poets, visual artists, filmmakers, musicians, lecturers, writers, playwrights, students, and arts aficionados of all ages.  Opening in May of 1989, James and Meryl’s former residence was willed to the city in 1983 and reconstructed as a 12,000 square foot arts center with two galleries, three classrooms, a sculpture garden, two meeting rooms, office space, and a performing arts facility. 

The facility hosts a variety of classes for young writers, poets, and painters, as well as adult education courses and a photography club.  In addition, the Center hosts a “Final Thursday” monthly open mic opportunity that includes readings and discussions from published local and regional authors. Musicians and composers from the UNI School of Music offer a lunch hour concert monthly, and a “Slow Art Lunch Club” for sharing perceptions of current gallery offerings over lunch. The Cedar Valley Acoustic Guitar Association also presents concerts from its members, featuring acoustic blues and folk music. With the Waterloo Center for the Arts, the Center offered a bus field trip tour in October of artists’ studios which included lunch in Decorah and visits to a number of professional artists’ studios around northeast Iowa. 

Some recent class offerings include “Messy Mornings” for children ages 3-6, “Doodlesplats” Saturday morning classes with print, paint, collage, and sketching for 10-12 years olds, “Muddy Makers,” featuring ceramics for ages 6-9, and “Groove,” which features Saturday morning explorations of music, beats, and performance, for a variety of ages from 4-12. For adults, the Centers currently offers Studio Painting, Introduction to Watercolor painting, Felt Animal Sculptures, Creative Writing, Beginning Wheel Throwing (Ceramics), Lineoleum Printmaking, Polymer Clay Pendants and Beads, and open studio time with three-month passes. In December, in conjunction with the Iowa Arts Council, the Center will co-sponsor “Poetry Out Loud” presenting opportunities for local 9-12th grade students to compete in the yearly National Poetry Recitation Competition. 

The Hearst Center for the Arts is a vital community resource, offering ongoing and affordable opportunities for exploring, performing, creating, and attending the fine arts.  

Farmer-poet James Hearst bequeathed his home to the City of Cedar Falls in 1983 and asked that it be used as an arts center for the community. In 1986, as a result of this gift, the Cedar Falls Art & Culture Board was established by the City of Cedar Falls to oversee the operation of the City’s Cultural Division, which includes the James & Meryl Hearst Center for the Arts. The Art & Culture Board raised funds and in 1988–1989, the poet’s home was reconstructed into what is now the community’s own 12,000-square-foot arts center, complete with two galleries, three classrooms, a sculpture garden, two meeting rooms, office space, and a performing arts facility. More than two million visitors have walked through the doors of the Hearst Center for the Arts since they were opened on May 13, 1989.

James Hearst Legacy Site
“Interpreting The Farmstead”

Funded in part by Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area, the James & Meryl Hearst Center for the Arts is pleased to launch this website memorializing the center’s benefactor, the farmer-poet and teacher, James Hearst. ‘Virtually meet’ the man, James Hearst. Witness decades of his life in family photos and in his poetry and autobiographical essays. Discover powerful universal truths cloaked in Hearst’s poetry about everyday life on the farm. Hear his graveled tenor voice as he reads his poems. See this remarkable man in conversation about his unique, challenging, and remarkable life on the audio and video clips found here.

Visit the Hearst Legacy Website.

Skeens, HeatherCultural Programs SupervisorHeather.Skeens@cedarfalls.com(319) 268-5550
Drennan, EmilyCurator / RegistrarEmily.Drennan@cedarfalls.com(319) 268-5503
Haigh, AbbyMarketing AssistantAbby.Haigh@cedarfalls.com(319) 268-5508
Huber-Otting, SheriPrograms CoordinatorSheri.Huber-Otting@cedarfalls.com(319) 268-5502
Hickok, AngieEducation CoordinatorAngie.Hickok@cedarfalls.com(319) 268-5504
Timmerman, Claire Ceramics Lab TechClaire.Timmerman@cedarfalls.com(319) 268-5549
Stewart, LeaSenior Services CoordinatorLea.Stewart@cedarfalls.com(319) 273-8641
Verastegui, AnaEducation AssistantAna.Verastegui@cedarfalls.com (319) 268-5507