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PROGRESS 2022: Coloring Up the City — Arts & Culture Alliance Celebrates Progress and New Master Plans | News, Sports, Jobs

TR PHOTO BY AUSTIN CHADDERDON — Amber Danielson is a 2008 MHS graduate. After completing her degree at the MCC and her UNI, she returned to Marshalltown where she has served as Executive Director of the Marshall County Arts and Culture Alliance since 2016. Danielson has directed the completion of more than 20 of her public art works, including murals and sculptures.

Marshalltown has more to offer than it did a year ago.

Many residents and visitors who haven’t been here for a while may hesitate at that statement, as tornadoes and derechos have obliterated a staggering proportion of trees in the town, reducing buildings to piles of bricks.

But along State Street, Main Street, Center Street, 13th Street and West Lynn Street, the spaces lined with trees and buildings are filled with vibrant colors.

The Marshall County Arts and Culture Alliance has procured and overseen the completion of more than 20 public works of art in the past two years. Under the leadership of Executive Director Amber Danielson, the Alliance has left its fingerprints in his strokes brush across the city. You can’t miss it.

“Marshalltown has faced so many challenges over the past four years, including tornadoes, derechos and pandemics.

The Marshalltown mural project was only a two-year-old idea, with occasional backlash. People didn’t want to spend money on it or use time and resources they thought would be better allocated elsewhere.

Some say to Danielson, “I’m not an artist.” Many did not think Marshalltown was capable of this kind of program.

“The truth is we are all artists and interact with art and culture on a daily basis – often without knowing it,” she said.

The food we eat, the clothes we wear, the movies and shows we watch, the music we listen to, the decoration of our homes, and our traditions are all prime examples.

Photo by Ames Artist Lauren Gifford at nine Marshalltown schools (Franklin, Fisher, Woodbury, Rogers, Anson, Hoglund, Lenihan, Miller, MHS, Marshalltown Christian School and St. Francis) on Marshalltown sidewalks. I painted a mural for a safety project. The mural will be completed from Fall 2020 to Spring 2021.

Two years later, after painting 20 murals, Danielson can breathe a sigh of relief and breathe gratitude and pride into his chest. It turned out to be a good idea.

Her team has proven that they are not only ready for Marshalltown, they are ready for it. One of her mottos for Danielson, borrowed from Grace Hopper, is “The most dangerous phrase in the language is ‘We’ve always been this way’.”

“Watching the program take off and skyrocket has been one of the most rewarding journeys of my career,” she said. “I hear from so many people that they take pride in their murals and how much they impact their daily joy,” she said.

Notable murals include the “Marshalltown Postcard Mural” on the south wall of Thompson True Value, “Marshalltown’s Starry Night” at Finley Interstate Bank, 13th Street District/Chop Shop, Tremont Building and Downtown Pocket Park. wall paintings, etc.

These projects often go up in the blink of an eye. One day, while commuting to work, suddenly something that has never happened before appears. Between meetings, pre-meetings, artist calls, funding and approvals, there is a collaboration Danielson fosters that makes it all possible.

“We are proud to have so many great partnerships around our communities. Often our role is to facilitate, connect and build bridges,” she said. I got

A recent addition to the Alliance’s portfolio was the “Scherzo” sculpture installed at the Marshalltown Performing Arts Center. The project has been a years-long partnership between the Alliance and the Auditorium Foundation. The result is a 17-foot-tall structure of intertwining colorful notes and shapes.

“We were honored to partner with them to bring their vision to life,” said Danielson. “

The “Scherzo” is adjacent to another large piece of public art, the “Drill” sculpture outside the Roundhouse at Marshalltown High School.

Danielson graduated from MHS in 2008. She studied marketing and international business at her UNI with an emphasis on distribution and logistics. After gaining experience in manufacturing, she jumped into the Arts and Culture Alliance. She admitted the pivot was a little scary, but looking back, she can’t imagine otherwise.

Originally focused on global business, we are now focused on building world-changing art around small cities.

TR PHOTO BY AUSTIN CHADDERDON — Kansas artist Stephen Johnson (pictured) designed the “Scherzo” sculpture that now stands in front of the Marshalltown Performing Arts Center. Johnson has an extensive art portfolio and has designed his art work for public from Brooklyn to Los Angeles.

“It was something I had never done before, but it was an exciting opportunity,” she said. It’s one.”

With community approval through social media reactions, her decisions and her ability to follow through seem to be accepted as part of the path forward for her hometown. Danielson was also recently named chairman of the Iowa Her Arts Council, offering her the opportunity to further expand her art commitment to the public.

A number of public art projects are planned for this year and 2023, including additions to the Orpheum Theater, Sports Plus, VFW Post 389 and La Carreta’s mural project. The following year, Alliance offices moved to the Marshalltown Arts & Civic Center (formerly the Fisher Community Center).

Prior to that move, in the coming months, the Alliance will facilitate focus groups and launch a new master plan that is the result of gathering input from the community.

“They have a 10-year master plan that paves the way to completely transform the art scene across the community, but with a particular focus downtown,” she said.

Danielson says he has community and art leaders across the state and country who are passionate about sharing their experiences and offering advice. A city that considers itself one, inspired by other similarly sized communities like Dubuque.

“We knew very early on that we were aiming for a program like theirs,” she said. I received guidance.”

Through research, guidance, data and opinion gathering, the Alliance focuses on building arts and programs that address the needs, gaps and desires of the people of Marshalltown.

“At the core of our mission in everything we do is to support, promote and enrich existing communities, and by exploring new possibilities, to transform our communities into arts and culture. “It’s about connecting to,” she said.

Ultimately, Danielson believes the people of Marshalltown are the Alliance’s greatest asset. She simply asks them to show up and speak to support the arts and culture.

Artists, architects, civil engineers, etc., who get the chance to see the fruits of their labor on the walls of their city as they drive to work in the morning or pick up their children in the afternoon. Very few. Danielson does each job a little bit uniquely by catalyzing a vibrant future full of art.

Art is subjective. What appears to be an abstract, geometric shape can be experienced differently to varying degrees by the person standing next to it. , It may be an opportunity to discover the artist in yourself.

“Arts and culture are integral to our lives at the personal, professional and community level,” Danielson said. It’s essential to make you feel.”

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