A gallery guest admires work by Jan Keppes.
Artists sometimes work in the Heartland Gallery for patrons to observe. Above is artist Adam Long and his finished sculpture produced while in the gallery.

Heartland Art Gallery in Hillsboro

By Tara L. Simmons

Martha Radcliff believes not having an art gallery in town is as bad as not having a library. Art must be seen to be appreciated.  So when she observed the amazing revitalization of downtown Hillsboro, she knew the time was right to create a space for art in the small town. Heartland Gallery opened in April of 2021.

Heartland Gallery is a ‘working mans’ gallering. Martha gathers artists who work locally, say within a 100 mile or so radius of Hillsboro.

Her goal as curator is to come up with a theme for a show, about six times per yer, and then gather the artwork that fits those themes. Once it is all together, the show opens to celebrate the art and those artists that created it.

“Creating art is a very solitary pursuit,” Martha said. “Recognizing artists for their work is as important for the communities as it is for the artists themselves.”

Continuing, Martha explained, “But, always, the Heartland Gallery’s job is to make art approachable, and highlight beauty and order. God creates beauty, and it is the universal language.  Everyone knows beauty when they see it.”

In Heartland Gallery there are no hard angles, no red ropes. The bare brick walls, shiny wooden floors and natural touches make Heartland a place where people hopefully feel at ease when they enter, and feel they can relax into the art.

“I let the work various artists do challenge their perspectives,” she said, then added, “Artists inspire wonder, like sculptor Adam Long of St. Charles, MO. Or they engender pride in our surroundings, like Martha Iler of Greenville or Lynne Reznick of Vandalia, two artists who capture the landscapes that surround us. Artists like Tony Rubba of Springfield, have a whimsical take on buildings that stand within our towns.  Artists like Rhonda Cearlock, Vandalia and Jessica Ottenmeyer of Hillsboro combine beauty and utility in a their clay work. There are many more I could mention, and many more I have yet to meet.”

All of the artists travel outside of their towns and take their work to bigger markets. It is Martha’s job to pause them along the way and let the people in Hillsboro and surrounding communities get a glimpse of their culture before it gets shipped to a bigger place.

“That’s the job of a local art gallery and so many small communities just don’t have a place for art,” Martha explained. “I am grateful for the revitalizing spirit of Hillsboro in that they are taking time to create a space for art and entertainment. I am grateful to be a part of it.”

Heartland Gallery features a plethora of artists and different art forms, which currently include paintings, stained glass, jewelry, hand made greeting cards, quilts, woodwork, leather work, pottery… even artisan clothing and homemade bread, plus herbal lotions and teas. Items change often as all works are for sale, and show themes change.

Heartland Gallery is located at 315 S. Main Hillsboro, right across the street from the Orpheum Theater. They are open Friday and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.

To find them on Facebook at: facebook.com/theheARTlandGallery. Artists wishing to inquire about inclusion can contact Martha by emailing [email protected].

In addition to the revitalization of Hillsboro, Martha is also participating in the revitalization of a monthly column entitled Prairie Land Artists. We had this column years ago but the person writing it closed their gallery and moved out of the area so the column ceased. We are thrilled to be able to bring it to you once again, with Martha’s help and expertise on the subject. Find her first submission on the adjacent page.

Handmade leather items by Edgar Gua.
Painting by Martha Iler.