Central Art Gallery

Current Exhibition

Martha Rhoades

Works by Martha Rhoades
February 20, 2017 through March 31, 2017

Martha Rhoades is a watercolor and pastel artist living on the south side of Des Moines. She began drawing and painting on her own and then started taking art lessons after her youngest child completed high school. She enjoys painting everything from florals, to landscapes, to portraits of both people and animals, but she especially loves painting portraits of children. She has painted numerous portrait commissions, and has always tried to capture the essence of the person or animals in her paintings. She has also recently begun painting house portraits. Her son is a realtor in Oklahoma and he’s had her paint small watercolors of the homes as gifts for the buyers.

Martha Rhoades

She began taking watercolor classes at the Des Moines Art Center with Mary Muller in 1991 and continued taking classes from Mary in drawing, watercolor, pastel, portrait and figure drawing for 20 years. Since then, she has taken workshops from such renowned artists as Alvaro Castegnet, Don Andrews, Carol Carter, and Karlyn Holman. She is a member of the Iowa Watercolor Society and Iowa Pastel Society.

Her work can be found in galleries and private homes throughout the United States and United Kingdom. She also has work in shops in Waterloo and Greenfield, Iowa.

She has been in numerous juried exhibitions including the Des Moines Women’s Club annual show as well as the Iowa State Fair and has been selected for numerous awards for her paintings. She feels so blessed to be able to express her creativity through art and to be a part of the creative culture of Des Moines and its artists.


Martha Rhoades Martha Rhoades

Art Gallery History

In 1916, the Des Moines Public Library, working in partnership with the newly-formed Des Moines Association of Fine Arts, made a gallery space available in order to “purchase and hold title to paintings acquired for the benefit of the public, and to bring exhibitions to the city.” Several exhibitions were shown each year, and works of art were periodically purchased for the association’s permanent collection. After a period of inactivity in the 1930s due to the Depression, the DMAF in 1938 moved their collection to a building on Walnut Street, and, with funding from the Works Progress Administration in the 1940s, provided galleries and studio space. The Des Moines Association of Fine Arts voluntarily dissolved in 1945 and their assets were turned over to the [James] Edmundson Art Foundation. That entity funded construction of the new Des Moines Art Center, which opened at its present location on Grand Avenue in 1948.

old art gallery

The Art Gallery at the Central Library, which opened in May, 2016, is located on the second floor and offers an accessible and welcoming environment for encouraging and celebrating Iowa artists. Exhibitions of original art work will engage, enrich, and be enjoyed by our patrons and enhance our community as a whole. These exhibitions expand the library’s role and bolster creative and expressive energy in the Des Moines community.

We are excited to continue the rich tradition of art at the Des Moines Public Library into a second century. Thank you for your support, and we hope to see you at the gallery!