Small towns in Iowa don’t have to think small when it comes to art, according to one organizer of this weekend’s event in Coon Rapids called Public Art for Rural Communities. It will gather artists, art appreciators, patrons and rural leaders from across Iowa to discuss prospects for public art, even in small rural towns.
Doug Carpenter is the rural arts coordinator for Creating Great Places. “There’s been a question for years over the role of public art in small communities,” Carpenter says. “Big towns have a lot of money and a lot of volunteers and can make things happen but smaller towns have a smaller budget and that makes it more difficult but it doesn’t keep small towns from pursuing it.”
He says the event will showcase place-based art that reflects Coon Rapids’ rich agricultural history as the cradle of hybrid seed corn on the Garst farm and host to Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in 1959. One feature will be the large, lighted sculpture, “Hybrid Icon,” at the Coon Rapids entryway.
“We’re bringing together people who have successfully started programs,” Carpenter says. “Plus, we’re bringing together some of the state people who know about public art and funding from the Iowa Arts Council.” He says from sculpture to singing and from dancing to poetry, people in small towns deserve art just as much as city folks, which is why this event is being held.
“We call it a gathering,” Carpenter says. “It’s not a symposium or a formal meeting. It’s just inviting people who know about art or who are interested in art in small communities to come together and network, compare notes and get ideas.”
The gathering begins at 1:30 Friday afternoon and ends late Saturday morning with a visit to the sixth annual Raccoon River Art Fair in downtown Coon Rapids.