The James & Meryl Hearst Center for the Arts is pleased to announce a two-day Twenty-fifth Anniversary celebration will take place at the Hearst Center on Friday, May 16, 2014, from 5–7 pm and Saturday, May 17, from 10 am–2 pm. In addition to celebrating James & Meryl Hearst’s legacies, the Hearst Center for the Arts wants to thank the community itself for the innumerable ways in which it has generously supported the Hearst Center’s mission of “inspiring passion for the arts.”

Friends of the Hearst will be hosting an after-hours reception on Friday, May 16, from 5–7 pm at the Hearst Center. Then, on Saturday, May 17, from 10 am–2 pm, guests will enjoy barbequed pork sandwiches courtesy of the Black Hawk County Pork Producers, plein air painting by the Thursday Painters, strolling actors, balloon sculpture by Mr. Nick’s Entertainment, and jugging and stilt-walking with Dean Franzen. Here’s What’s Poppin’ will also be in attendance. Guests will enjoy art activities in the R. J. McElroy and Ella Rownd classrooms, and informal talks throughout the afternoon. Loree Rackstraw will converse at 11:00 am, with a talk titled “Jim Hearst: As I Knew Him,” Barbara Lounsberry will lecture at 12:00 pm with a presentation titled “Jim Hearst in His Own Words: The Autobiography,” and George Day will address the audience at 1:00 pm with a talk titled “Jim Hearst, Poet and Friend.”
Loree Rackstraw – An alumna of the University of Iowa’s Writers Workshop, Loree Rackstraw holds a BA in Philosophy from Grinnell College and an MFA in English from the University of Iowa. She taught fiction writing, composition, literature, mythology, and humanities at the University of Northern Iowa for 30 years, where her specialty was literary criticism. Rackstraw is the author of numerous works, including the book Love As Always, Kurt: Vonnegut As I Knew Him, and critical essays “The Paradox of ‘Awareness’ and Language in Vonnegut’s Fiction,” and “Dancing with the Muse in Vonnegut’s Later Novels.” Rackstraw also served as a fiction editor and reviewer for the North American Review. Essayist, critic, and memoirist Loree Rackstraw is an Emeritus Professor of English Languages & Literatures at UNI’s College of Humanities, Arts, and Sciences. Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, Rackstraw currently resides in Grinnell, Iowa.

Barbara Lounsberry – An Emeritus Professor of English Languages & Literatures at the University of Northern Iowa, Barbara Lounsberry holds a BA and an MA in English from UNI, and a PhD in English from the University of Iowa. A native of Cedar Falls, she taught in UNI’s Department of English Languages and Literatures for 32 years, specializing in creative nonfiction and Virginia Woolf studies. She was awarded the Distinguished Scholar Award in 1994 and the Outstanding Teaching Award in 1998. Lounsberry is the author and editor of a number of books. Her latest book, Becoming Virginia Woolf: Her Early Diaries & the Diaries She Read, will be released in June. Lounsberry’s other works include The Art of Fact: Contemporary Artists of Nonfiction and The Writer in You. Lounsberry co-edited Writing Creative Nonfiction: The Literature of Reality, and The Tales We Tell: Perspectives on the Short Story. Lounsberry is President of the Ruth Suckow Memorial Association and on the Board of Directors of the Norman Mailer Society. She has been awarded Distinguished Service Awards from the City of Cedar Falls for her service on the Cable Television Commission during the franchising stage, and from Humanities Iowa, the state council of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
George F. Day – An Emeritus Professor of English Languages & Literatures at the University of Northern Iowa’s College of Humanities, Arts, and Sciences, George F. Day holds degrees from Dartmouth College, where he was a Rufus Choate Scholar; Harvard University; and the University of Colorado, where he was the first William Fullmer Reynolds Scholarship recipient. He has taught at Punahou School, Honolulu; the University of Colorado; and the University of Northern Iowa. Day taught at UNI for 28 years, specializing in American Literature. Day is the co-editor of Literary History of the American West, co-author of Anglo-Scottish Border Ballads, and author of The Uses of History in the Novels of Vardis Fisher. Day is past-president of the Western American Literature Association and the Ruth Suckow Memorial Association, where he is currently a member of the Board. He is also on the Board of Governors of the Willa Cather Foundation and on the Cather Scholarship Committee. George F. Day has been awarded the Wylder Award for Distinguished Service for the Study of Western American Literature, and he was the first William Fullmer Reynolds Scholarship recipient at the University of Colorado. Originally from Superior, Nebraska, Day currently resides in Cedar Falls.

The lecture series will continue with lecturer Michael Borich on Thursday, August 7, at 7 pm, Jeremy Schraffenberger will address the audience on Thursday, September 18, at 7 pm, and the series will conclude with a discourse by Roy Behrens on Thursday, October 23, at 7 pm. All writers will speak about James Hearst and his body of work.

The cover of the Spring 2014 Issue of the North American Review, one of the country’s longest-running literary magazines, will feature a portrait of James Hearst, created by local artist Gary Kelley. In addition, the NAR will have a four-page, full-color center spread featuring four of Hearst’s well-known poems alongside works of art by artist Gary Kelley, who has interpreted the poems. This commemorative issue marks forty years since James Hearst graced the cover of the 1974 NAR. Magazines will be available for purchase beginning on May 8, at the Hearst Center, the University of Northern Iowa, and online.

The Hearst Center’s twenty-fifth anniversary celebration is made possible by the Rotary Club of Cedar Falls, the Cedar Falls Art & Culture Board, and 93.5 The Mix. If you are a relative, friend, acquaintance, student, or colleague of the late farmer-poet and University of Northern Iowa Professor James Hearst, the Hearst Center for the Arts wants to hear from you! Please submit a paragraph or two via email for their Facebook page. Kindly consider the unique contribution that you alone can give to this vital conversation. Contact: Vicki Simpson at 319-268-5501 or email her at for more information.

Farmer-poet James Hearst bequeathed his home to the City of Cedar Falls in 1983 and asked that it be used as an arts center for the community. In 1986, as a result of this gift, the Cedar Falls Art & Culture Board was established by the City of Cedar Falls to oversee the operation of the City’s Cultural Division, which includes the James & Meryl Hearst Center for the Arts. The Art & Culture Board raised funds and in 1988-1989, the poet’s home was reconstructed into what is now the community’s own 12,000 square-foot arts center, complete with two galleries, three classrooms, a sculpture garden, two meeting rooms, and a performing arts facility. More than two million visitors have walked through the doors of the Hearst Center for the Arts since they were opened on May 13, 1989.

All twenty-fifth anniversary events are free and open to the public. More information is available on the Hearst Center website at, by calling the Hearst Center at (319) 273-8641, or by liking our page on Facebook. The Hearst Center is located at 304 West Seerley Boulevard in Cedar Falls. Information on the James Hearst commemorative issue of the North American Review can be found here:

Hearst Center Gallery Hours:

Tuesday & Thursday: 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Wednesday & Friday: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday: 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.


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