From Chicken House To Art Studio

IMG_0030Now that I’ve opened my studio up to the public and welcomed friends and community members in to it this weekend, I wanted to share the story of how it came about to everyone out there who can’t make it to Marcus to see my new creative space. Clinton Johnson, who was born on this farm in 1919, and grew up to live here with his family, originally built the building as a chicken house. Clinton’s parents, Art and Anna, built the main farm house the same year that Clinton was born. As Clinton grew and continued to maintain the family farm, he built the chicken house in 1937. Clinton later married Bernice and the two raised their own family on this same farm until 1981 when they moved from the farm and rented it out to Jerry and Barb Martin who lived there for a year while Jerry used the chicken house to park his wagons in. Then in 1982, my parents, Clark and Vickie Rainboth moved onto the farm, renting at first, and then buying the farm from Clinton and Bernice in October of 1984, just weeks before I was born. Dad turned the chicken house into his workshop where he did everything from carpentry to machinery repairs. As a child I can remember frequently joining Dad in his shop as he would work on his various projects and helping by searching through his dozens of buckets and cans full of random nails, screws, bolts, and other miscellanea that a farmer might possibly need someday, to find just the right piece for whatever he was working on.



In 2005, Dad decided that he needed a bigger machine shed for his farm equipment and built the large, red shed that now sits on the farm. He included space for a new workshop area in the machine shed as well. This left the previous shop to fall into a state of neglect as it became little more than storage for all those many, many things that weren’t necessarily useful on a daily basis, but might someday come in handy. So they piled up and collected dust filling the old chicken house to the limit. That is, until this summer, when I casually mentioned to Dad that it would be nice to have a space on the farm to work on my art when I’m not back home in Haiti. Unaware of what he was actually agreeing to, Dad said that I could “clean out a corner in the shop” to do my work. I started that same evening, sorting, cleaning, and hauling wheel barrow loads full of stuff to other storage on the farm, and to the burning barrel and the junk pile. After weeks of work I finally had a space where I could work, create, relax, display my art, and welcome friends and guests. Now I am happy to share this space with the public as a look into my process as an artist and the environment that it takes to inspire the process. I also believe that rural areas, whether they be Mizak, Haiti, or Marcus, Iowa, deserve more access to the arts. Hopefully, by creating this space on the farm, I can contribute to making the arts more visible and more present. I hope you can visit soon!





You can view more before and after photos on my Facebook page.


One thought on “From Chicken House To Art Studio

  1. Beautiful! Congratulations! Did you see that the IRS approved this week the vocation of Artist, even though it might not deirve any income for the claimant. Doesn’t really matter, does it? Sometimes you know who you are long before you have a name for it. Glad now you have a place as well.


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