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Nick Beard’s “Keeping My Head Above Water” to be featured in Ray Frederick Gallery

Nick Beard

Marshalltown artist Nick Beard will be displaying his art in the Ray Frederick Gallery at MCC Jan. 22-Feb. 14. He’s pictured with several of his pieces.

MARSHALLTOWN – Marshalltown artist Nick Beard will share a display of his artwork in MCC’s Ray Frederick Gallery, room 306, on the Marshalltown Community College campus. The Beard exhibit opens with a reception from 12:15 to 1:30 pm on Wednesday, Jan. 22, and will be on display through noon Friday, Feb. 14.

Beard’s love of art started early as he was attending Rogers Elementary in Marshalltown. “I had a great relationship with my art teacher, Mr. Santama. He always saw something in me and thought I had an interesting perspective and looked at things from an obscure angle,” commented Beard. His art education extended into high school, where the majority of his senior year was spent in the art room. “I had great teachers. Mrs. Tordson and Mr. Lovell were extremely supportive. They always told me that I had something and if I wanted to pursue art there was something out there for me.”

Keeping his love of art always in his head and heart, Beard took some time off of his education and performed in a band. After a brief time performing, he registered at Marshalltown Community College under the instruction of Madelyn Mayberry in his art classes. “She taught me things in the design realm, advertising and commercial art.” Current MCC Faculty Tim Castle joined the MCC staff while Beard was attending classes. “I was blown away by Tim. He was just so enlightening. I wanted to be in all of his classes. He taught me to think outside the box. I don’t have to use pencil and paper to create. I can use anything. Art isn’t what is hanging on the wall … it’s you creating something.”

After earning his AA Degree from MCC, Beard transferred to the University of Northern Iowa to finish a degree in education and continue taking as many art classes as he could. “UNI pushed my unorthodox type of art work, using space more than a canvas or paper. I enjoyed building things to make people think.”

Beard got a job as the East Marshall K-8th grade art teacher and is currently in his sixteenth year. “I liked my teachers and they were there for me and always supportive. That’s a powerful thing to be. You can be there for a kid that doesn’t have very many people and may build a better relationship with them than they have at home.” Being an art teacher has allowed his love of art to filter to other people. “Just seeing someone learn something is outstanding and incredibly fulfilling. There are so many ‘aha’ moments. I love teaching and seeing that excitement and spark that I have in them.”

The theme, “Keeping my head above water,” stems from Beard’s loss of his father in the summer of 2016. “He was a huge influence on my drawing and style. I didn’t even know I had a style until I saw some of his artwork from when he was younger. It’s almost identical to mine so it shows our minds are alike.” Beard would describe his style as detailed pen and ink and dividing space up until there is no space left. “If I’m drawing a parrot, you see the parrot but I’ve been focusing on this feather because I want to get every single little strand in there. It’s very meditative. I like getting lost in my work and not even knowing what’s going on.”

Beard’s show will feature a variety of media including installations, pen and ink, watercolors and object pieces. “I want people to look at my work and not think about what I was thinking when I created them but more about how they can put it into their own lives.” This will be Beard’s second exhibit at MCC; his first showing was in 2015.

“My last show I was pumping out art like crazy. I was making 3-4 pieces a day. I have slowed down since then. The pieces in this show will relate to my dad. They will be reflective of where I’ve been and what I’ve lost and gained,” Beard said. “Some of the pieces are about realizing that we are all mortals and death is a part of life. Conversing about death and not that it’s a bad thing just a phase that we go through and we don’t know the answers to but we should accept it, embrace it and keep the love with us and memories with us. There is a lot of nostalgia in these pieces.”

Beard feels humbled to have been asked back to MCC for a second show. “When I was attending MCC I thought it was amazing. Walking through now I see all of the changes that have been made and I am proud I went here and proud of the school.”

The Ray Frederick Gallery is open weekdays from 9 am to 5 pm. For more information contact MCC Art Professor Tim Castle at 641-844-5776 or

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