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Greg Metzen’s “Past, Present and into the Future” to be featured in Ray Frederick Gallery

Greg Metzen

In a farewell retirement exhibit, Ellsworth Community College soon to be retiring Art Faculty Greg Metzen, will share a display of his artwork in MCC’s Ray Frederick Gallery, room 306, on the Marshalltown Community College campus. The Hall exhibit will open 9 am on Monday, March 1, and will be on display through noon Friday, March 26.

Metzen’s exhibit will feature four different disciplines including photography, ceramics, sculptures and painting.

Metzen can’t remember when he started his love of art but also can’t remember a time it wasn’t part of his life. “When I wasn’t dabbling and drawing I was creating 3D pieces out of toy parts. My love of art evolved.” When he was contemplating what to study in college, he wanted to do something he would enjoy. “I explored all of the interests I have and decided that art was the right choice which is what I should have done in the first place.”

He earned both his Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts at the University of Missouri Columbia. During his undergrad he focused on ceramics and photography and majored in sculpture and 3D design for his graduate degree but had almost as many credits in his photography and ceramics minors. “I enjoyed my experience at the University of Missouri. I was somewhat of an oddball in the department and more of a challenge than they normally had,” commented Metzen. The department was figurative and landscape-oriented. When Metzen was in sculpture he would use tailpipes to weld into furniture. “They were intrigued by my work. Here I was, a person doing something very different than what was normally done.”

After completing his degrees, Metzen took a “shot-gun” approach to applying for jobs. He applied to every college in Missouri. One application, in particular, was for a college around an hour away, Missouri Valley, that he had ready to mail but with it being so close he decided to drive down to look at the college. While on campus he found the Dean of Arts and Science on a Thursday and was offered the job the following Tuesday. “The day before I visited, the previous adjunct had quit and they thought they were going to have to cancel classes until I walked in the door.” Metzen remained at Missouri Valley for two years and then taught at Cottey College in Nevada, MO for one year. “I joke to my students that I bought my career for $40. With this position, I sent an application, waited a week and drove down the night before to stay in a hotel and got the job. They liked that I came down at my own expense.”

Now, Metzen is retiring after being the Art Faculty at ECC for over twenty-four years. Metzen recognizes that teaching has been supportive for his art. “I’m talking about art all of the time but sometimes I just don’t have time to create.” Now that he is retiring from teaching full-time and switching to earning income from what he creates, is quite a switch for Metzen. “In the past, I haven’t had to make a living from my art. I don’t need to have a lot of income but I want to be able to have enough to take care of the materials I want when creating.”

After retirement, Metzen is looking forward to moving to the Columbia, MO area for family instead of a job for the first time in his life. He plans to find studio space and create on a regular basis. “I’m looking forward to dedicating my time to art and not having to rush. I’m a little nervous but ready to be doing this at full swing. This is something I’ve dreamed of doing. Everything came together at this moment to retire and it was an appropriate time to go. This exhibit is my last hurrah and a nice passing symbol for this moment in my life.”

Metzen thinks that the width of the exhibit will surprise people. In past exhibits at MCC, Metzen has displayed ceramics but the addition of sculptures, bronze, painting and photography will be eye-opening. “The title of the exhibit explains it well. My exhibit will include my background in art and where I am heading.”

One aspect of his exhibit that Metzen is excited to share is what he refers to as spirit vessels. “As an undergrad, I did vessel-oriented projects like cups, mugs, casserole dishes that sort of thing. As a graduate, I did more sculpture. This is in the middle. There is a small opening in each vessel so potentially it could hold something but its only large enough for a spirit to go in.”

Select pieces in Metzen’s exhibited at MCC will be available for purchase. 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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