“The Striped Couch”: Building Community through Art

Maggie Tarr/Anderson and her husband Kyle Anderson on their "Striped Couch" Media by Frances Trujillo.

All across America, small-town galleries are popping up and drawing in contemporary artists of all kinds. These rural galleries give the artist big-city opportunities with small-town tangibility.

Through these galleries, artists connect with their communities in a more meaningful and unique way, bringing culture and beauty that is sparked with new creativity, energy, and spirit. People are moved to think together, act together, and grow together. Small towns and their citizens embrace this type of collaboration by exploring innovative solutions to preserve, revitalize, and enhance the local community.

In the small town of Hillsboro, Illinois, two Greenville University graduates are spearheading a gallery in their community in order to grow the next generation of artists and art enthusiasts.  

Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca and rock band Semisonic have said, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end.”

For artist and Greenville University Adjunct Professor Maggie Tarr Anderson, this quote couldn’t be more true. When Greenville University decided to phase out their art program, Anderson was forced to make some big decisions about her career.

Maggie Tarr Anderson Media by Frances Trujillo.

Tarr Anderson said, “I was heartsick over GU closing their doors to art, but closing their doors helped me decide to keep art alive in this community. I decided that the doors to art would remain open in my heart, and I would help do the same for the people who shared the same love.”

Turning endings into new beginnings, Tarr Anderson partnered with her husband, Kyle Anderson, a master potter and a Greenville University graduate. They decided to buy a building in the small town of Hillsboro with the vision of opening an art center. This gallery would give a diverse mix of artists the opportunity to come together and create work while cultivating connections with others in the community. The couple mentioned, “The community has been super rad and supportive. We have all helped each other; we help each other renovate, and we are all coming together to make the town come alive.”

Tarr Anderson plans to name this home for artists “The Striped Couch” after the couch she had throughout her journey of becoming an artist. She said, “This couch brings and has brought people together. And I hope that it does the same here.”

“The Striped Couch” is still a work in progress. Tarr Anderson and her husband are working hard to reenergize and renovate this small-town spot. However, in the meantime, they have opened the doors to artists so they can have a place to create until the official grand opening in the summer of 2021. They also plan on hosting an art show in March of 2021, which will be promoted on Facebook or Instagram. All artists from the surrounding area are welcome to submit any art. If you’re interested in doing so, contact Tarr Anderson on Facebook or send an email to maggietarr.art@gmail.com

Kyle Anderson and Maggie Tarr Anderson Media by Frances Trujillo.

For years, there has been a great need for an artistic outlet in the community, and there is a good chance that artists will continue to play an essential role in transforming the future of this small town. It is the passion of people like Tarr Anderson and her husband that strengthens communities through art. The next time you decide to take a drive into Hillsboro, Illinois, stop into “The Striped Couch,” sit awhile, and talk to these two fun, amazing souls.


  1. This is so amazing!! We need this for artist here in southern Illinois. With COVID out there ruining everything. We need something good out there to look forward too.

  2. We really enjoyed this article and the artistic photos. Shared with my friends on FB and at work and they commented “really good article!”


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