I write about country music. Mostly.

Art Mixes With Music at Codfish Hollow

IMG_5292Heading to a show at Codfish Hollow in Maquoketa, IA? Along with music in a rare and exciting venue (read more), you’ll have a chance to meet some pretty fabulous folks, including local artists and artisans who display their visual arts, crafts and artisan baked goods in a pop-up gallery in the barn’s basement. There’s even more art to see over in the old farmhouse – so don’t miss that.

One of the individuals you’ll likely meet is dairy farmer Kelly Placke of Cuba City, WI, shown below with concert goer Deb Meyne of DeWitt, IA. Kelly used to be an art teacher but moved from Arizona back to southwest Wisconsin three years ago to take over her folks’ organic dairy farm. In addition to milking 40 cows and raising crops on 80 acres, Kelly molds artisan hand soap using milk from her bovine beauties, essential oils and medicinal herbs like coriander, lavender and vetiver, a native grass from India that’s thought to be good for the skin.

Kelly describes the soap business as a  “fun little side project” that allows her to feed her creative nature while managing the cows and crops. She sells Placke Organic Milk Soap and chap sticks at shops in Wisconsin and Iowa and sets up a booth at most shows at Codfish Hollow.


Deb Meyne and Kelly Placke

As folks venture downstairs to the lower level of the barn to grab a beer or snack, they find a nice mix of cool things to explore and purchase if they desire. But there’s no pressure to buy and items are very reasonably priced, many under $20-30. Kelly says she loves the opportunity to listen to fabulous music (Oh Wonder was getting ready to go on stage the week I met Kelly) and connect with other Codfish Hollow fans like Deb. “Technically, I can say I am working,” says Kelly with a grin.


Lee Ann Breitbach and Jan Ketza

Jan Ketza and her friend Lee Ann Breitbach are painters and can often be found at Codfish on show nights. Ketza, whose abstract expressionistic art is displayed on the wall in the background, says attending a Codfish Hollow concert is stimulating and energizing. “I like the set-back-in-time feel atmosphere, mixed with the contemporary music. People are really in tune with that,” says Jan.


Jen Aarand and daughter Ariana

Jen Aarand is Codfish Hollow’s resident tie-dye artist. With help from her family and friends, Jen sets up buckets to dip the cotton clothing in her backyard in Stockton, IL, and then sells colorful long and short sleeved tee shirts, kid’s shirts and camisoles. Jen just started making the shirts a few months ago as a hobby but soon realized a market for people like her that love tie-dye. “I’m a hippie at heart,” she says.


Teresa Reed

One-of-a-kind combos of beads and tassels are a featured element in Teresa Reed’s Tidbits-n-Treasures display. Teresa, of Mount Carroll, IL, sells hand-painted, wooden beaded bracelets and other pieces of jewelry. She also makes teething necklaces with silicone beads that are safe and just the right texture for babies and toddlers to chew on. You can see more of Teresa’s work by following her on Instagram @trstidbitsntreasures.

Over near the farmhouse, Aerosol artist Jason Allen, below, transforms into a bit of a performance artist when he demonstrates his unique talent with spray paint. His paintings feature pretty, pastel skies with the sun or moon as the central figure. He enjoys showing how the paint poofs and swirls as he creates interesting visuals. Some of the paintings reminded me of a shadowy mountain canyon – serene and pretty.  I bought one for our guest bathroom. Unfortunately I was pulled back to the music and missed talking to some of the other artists in the house (but I’ll be back!).

Heather Houzenga “Zenga” is the queen (spoken in the most affectionate of ways) of the Codfish Hollow art gallery. Heather, also of Mount Carroll, IL, organizes artists and showcases her own interesting artwork as well. She uses recycled materials like silver flatware for necklaces and vintage fabrics for bright and funky clothing, wallets, headbands plus more. She paints over old paintings and she makes decoupaged items like picture frames and greeting cards with cast-off artwork that she finds at garage sales and resale shops. Recycling is a passion.

“I like to take things people discard and give them a new life,” says Heather. For the past three years, Heather has attended just about every Codfish Hollow show and at some point signed on to recruit other artists and help folks feel welcome when they visit the art gallery.  If you go to a show be sure to introduce yourself to Heather!


Deb and Heather

For more information about upcoming Codfish Hollow shows and tickets (many concerts sell out in advance), visit the Hollow’s website.  The concert barn is located at 5013 288th Ave., Maquoketa, Iowa 52060.

Learn more about Karen Bernick here. If you like this post, please consider following me here or liking my Facebook page Karen Loves Country. Or follow me at Twitter. Thanks for reading!


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