116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The art and events that Denise Murphy gets to surround herself with are ever changing.
Murphy and her husband, Robert, own Mount Vernon Creates, an event space and art gallery in Mount Vernon.
The two are artists who wanted to create a gallery space that catered specifically to local artists.
“Everyone featured in the gallery lives within 30 miles of Mount Vernon,” she said, noting that more than a dozen artists are represented at any given time.
“We bought the building in 2017 and we were able to open up the front two rooms right away,” Murphy said.
But the event center space hadn't been open for from 10 to 15 years.
“People tell us it had been various things over the years, but we had to completely renovate it because there were so many remnants for what was here before,” Murphy said, noting that meant new windows, a new roof and new flooring, among other changes.
The building is very long and she said people often are surprised to find out there is event space available in the back.
The Mount Vernon Creates event space opened in 2019 after renovations and had a very successful first year, Murphy recalled.
“We had lots of graduations, wedding receptions and baby showers,” she said.
The pandemic put a hold on events for the majority of this past year.
“We had a few smaller weddings and a couple of rehearsal dinners (since). We had a reception last weekend that was just beautiful," Murphy said.
Many of the events that Mount Vernon Creates presented — including live music, writers’ night and poetry readings — had been put on hold as well, but Murphy said she’s excited to start those back up.
Because Robert still works in computer programming, she is the one that can be typically found doing the day-to-day operations and event coordination.
“... My background is actually in program and project management so that’s perfect for keeping the event center organized,” she said.
The event center seats 100 people and the extension of Mount Vernon Creates’ gallery space into the event center makes it unique, Murphy said.
“That's just really a nice backdrop, a beautiful backdrop that the local artists have created to be in our event center.”
Right now the gallery space is filled with the Portrayal of Mount Vernon art exhibit, which showcases a variety of pieces that artists created to depict their view of Mount Vernon. It will be up through July and visitors can vote on their favorite, Murphy said.
Mount Vernon Creates also sells local wines, from Cherry Meadows, Fireside Winery, Brick Arch Winery and Cedar Ridge, as well as some beer and non-alcoholic beverages.
Murphy has also put rental packages together and has options for those seeking to host events, including use of an eclectic mix of China, centerpieces and more.
“We just try to be as flexible as possible to take the stress off of people that are having receptions or event here,” Murphy said.
She added that, “depending on the client's preference, we can partner with local businesses to provide for that food or they can cater it in from wherever they would like.”
Owners: Denise and Robert Murphy
Address: 121 First St. NW, Mount Vernon
Phone: (319) 895-2682
“We’ve hosted the Mount Vernon Senior High School art exhibition here,” she said, “and we’ve also sponsored internships during Mount Vernon High School’s J-term. We've had three different interns so far and we've worked to help give them an understanding of the business.”
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