A local artist will be showcasing his work this weekend with a solo art show at the Fort Dodge Fine Arts Association Gallery.
The Isaiah O’Neal Degen Solo Art Show will be from 5-7 p.m. on Saturday at the FDFAA Gallery, 921 Central Ave.
Degen, a 2015 graduate of Fort Dodge Senior High, will be showing pieces he’s created in recent months and a few from over the last year using acrylic paints mixed with oil pastels and chalk. He said there will be about 15 art pieces, including one that features four canvases.
“Isaiah has always been a friend to our organization and we are excited to share this show with the community,” said FDFAA Executive Director Shelly Bottorff.
The theme of the art show is a journey with mental health.
“As a biracial male growing up in a small community, I wanted to express the mental health problems I’ve had and have people look at it in a way that they, too, can understand that these things are OK to express, to talk about, to share with one another,” Degen said. “Most of my work is very personal for me.”
Art is deeply-rooted in Degen’s life. He said he’s always loved drawing and enjoyed art classes while in elementary school, but as he grew older, his confidence began to waver, so he tucked art away in his heart until he was a senior in high school.
“I stopped really caring about what the world thinks about me,” he said. “I had to drop a lot of other classes just to take art classes.”
Degen credits his high school art teacher, Lori Daniel, for reigniting his passion for art.
“She’s the one who kind of pushed me and told me ‘You are capable, you are a good artist,’ and gave me that space where I could build some confidence,” he said. “And then later I wanted to pursue it after high school.”
Degen also grew up with another artist in the family — his great-uncle was an art instructor at University of Iowa.
“In a way, art has always been a part of me,” Degen said. “It just took me a very long time to consider myself an artist and just pursue it.”
This will be Degen’s first-ever art show.
“I really enjoy hosting these events at our gallery,” Bottorff said. “Celebrating the arts and artists is what we do.”
Bottorff also noted that the FDFAA gallery also has artwork for sale by various area artists.
IF YOU GO
Isaiah O’Neal Degen Solo Art Show
When: 5-7 p.m. Saturday
Where: FDFAA Gallery, 921 Central Ave.
Free admission. Open to the public.