Umbrella Arts prepares for busy summer season in Guttenberg

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Umbrella Arts is a non-profit organization that complements, supports and expands on the arts in our community. From left, Gail Larson and Cheryl Meyer tend an information booth during last year’s Farmer's Market. (Press photo by Shelia Tomkins)

By Caroline Rosacker

Umbrella Arts (UA) members are gearing up for another busy season of advocating art along the banks of the Mississippi River in Guttenberg. 

Juanita Loven, spokesperson for the non-profit group, shared their upcoming Flower Fundraiser with The Press.

"On the first two weekends in May, Dianna Backes, owner of Jamin by the River, will have an assortment of plants, baskets, planters, and flowers in four- and six-inch pots for sale. Profits from the plant sale will go toward purchasing flowers for the downtown historic limestone planters, and other beautification projects, including fall decor," commented Loven. 

The plant sale will be held on  May 4, 5, 10 & 11, from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. each day at River Park Place Couryard, 308 S. River Park Dr., Guttenberg.

2019 Sculpture contest

Umbrella Arts is in its sixth year of sponsoring an annual sculpture competition. This year's theme is "Flowers." They can be real, or handcrafted out of other materials, in the ground, in pots, or displayed in some other imaginative way. 

"This is an opportunity for Guttenberg to go all-out decorating our town as Iowa's Rivertown of the Year," say organizers. 

Participants are asked to send photos of their creation with a written description, location, name, and phone number to lovenrj@alpinecom.net. Submissions will be accepted between June 8 and Aug. 1. 

Prizes will be based on originality, traditional, and other possibilities. 

Winners will be announced at the Aug. 9 River of Music concert. 

River of Music 

UA members are strategizing for the upcoming River of Music concert series. The event is held each Friday evening at 6 p.m. in the 100 block of North River Park Drive in Ingleside Park.    

Concert attendees can enjoy a variety of music genres performed by local musicians. Pack your picnic basket and bring a lawn chair, and enjoy the performance under a canopy of majestic shade trees while enjoying panoramic views of the Mississippi River. Look for additional information and scheduled performers in upcoming issues of The Guttenberg Press.

Umbrella Arts history

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead. 

On a cold evening on Jan. 24, 2014, an exploratory meeting was held at the home of Russell and Juanita Loven. The mission of the organization was proposed to be an "umbrella," collaborative, cooperative, supportive arts organization to include the broader spectrum of the arts, not in competition with already established organizations and events, but to complement, support and expand on the arts in our community. 

Loven commented, "I had researched the forming of an arts council and one of the options was to partner with an already existing arts organization. Cindy Olsen, CEO of the Shepherd Gallery and Creativity Center, and Molly Moser, then program director, were approached, and they graciously agreed to allow this new organization to affiliate with them." 

She continued, "This allowed us to utilize their 501c3 status for band sponsors. Our group ended this collaboration three years later and obtained our own non-profit status allowing us to broaden our mission."

Umbrella Arts has been a key element in bringing art in all its various forms to our community.  

Through the group's dedication, determination and generosity, several art programs have taken root in our community. The list includes the Summer Sculpture Contest; River of Music Concert Series; support of the Shepherd Gallery and Creativity Center, After-School Arts Program and Art by the River event; the Elkader Art in the Park event; the River Bluffs Scenic Byways Public Art Project; collaboration with the University of Dubuque Heritage Center School Bus Performance Series; Songs of Hope; Celebrate the River; support of the Driftless Youth Theater Program; and the Historic Limestone Planter project, to name a few. 

The arts group meets on the third Tuesday of most months. Meetings are held in voluntary rotation at group members' homes. The host prepares the food, the meal is served at 5 p.m., with the meeting starting promptly at 6 p.m.  RSVP's are required to eat, and a $10 donation is accepted. 

Spokesperson Juanita Loven said,  "If you find yourself getting excited and want to get involved, please don't hesitate to contact an Umbrella Arts member."

Board members of UA are: president, Karen Riser; vice president, M.J. Smith; secretary, Juanita Loven; and treasurer, Mary Lutz. 

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