'Sit in the Scenery' sculpture project entries due June 15

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Several sculptures have already appeared around town, including this set on River Park Drive from new resident Janice Adkins. Next door, Lori and Jeff Wallace are also participating in the project. To participate, sign up online at www.guttenbergcreativitycenter.com/summer-sculpture-project or pick up an entry form at the Welcome Center or Shepherd Gallery and Creativity Center. (Press photo by Molly Moser)

By Molly Moser

Artists, businesses, organizations, families, and individuals of all ages are invited to participate in a summer-long community sculpture project. This year's theme is "Sit in the scenery." Participants are encouraged to create unique seating that will provide opportunities for conversation, relaxation, and appreciation of the beauty of Guttenberg.

"Sculptures can be as simple as a painted chair,” organizers say, emphasizing that anyone can participate. Contest entries will be accepted until June 15 (an extension from the previous June 1 deadline), but community members are encouraged to help beautify the city and celebrate the season by displaying – and sitting on – these functional artworks throughout the summer, whether or not they choose to formally enter the contest.

For those who do decide to enter, there are two categories. The first, traditional sculpture, includes new or recycled materials constructed to resemble a chair, bench, swing, or other form of seating that can be enjoyed and used by the public. Sculptures should be weatherproof, as they will be displayed in outdoor locations around town until October.

The second category is altered seating, for which participants may use a pre-made chair, bench, swing, or other object designed for seating as the base of their project and then repurpose or decorate the sculpture creatively. 

"After the success of last year's reCycle sculpture project, which attracted over 50 entries of bicycle-themed sculptures, we're requesting that this year's participants submit entry forms," say organizers. Entry forms are available at the Welcome Center and at Shepherd Gallery and Creativity Center, as well as online at www.guttenbergcreativitycenter.com/summer-sculpture-project. The contest culminates in awards at the first ever Celebrate the River festival in August. Winners will be determined by a public vote that will take place throughout the summer.

While last year’s event had a bicycle theme to commemorate RAGBRAI, this year’s project celebrates the beauty of our river town. “We hope the additional seating and the artistic nature of the project will create welcoming opportunities for conversation, relaxation, and appreciation of the beauty of Guttenberg,” organizers explain. Seating can be river- or nature-themed, or can coordinate with the business that creates the sculpture. 

Last year, for example, Schuster and Mick Law office made their bicycle tires into the scales of justice and topped the sculpture with the figure of a judge. Organizations like the Rotary Club made sculptures in their club colors, and a group of swimming pool enthusiasts got together to create a bicycle rider from pool noodles and bathing suits. Many individuals got involved by creating sculptures from old bicycles they had on hand, and organizers expect the same can easily be done this year with outdated lawn furniture or thrift store finds. 

Entrants may loosely interpret theme of sitting in the scenery by providing functional sculptures that include creature comforts like cup holders, pet water dishes, or opportunities to put one’s feet up; sculptures that incorporate plant life or are lit at night; seating arrangements that encourage social interaction, typical river-scenario seating (like aboard boats) or novelty works that create photo opportunities. 

The community sculpture project is attributed to Umbrella Arts, an initiative of Shepherd Gallery and Creativity Center whose mission is to offer a framework for art enthusiasts to gather, generate and execute new ideas, and support local art. The group plans and executes arts events and gives 10% of income to Shepherd Gallery and Creativity Center. 

There is no cost to participate in this community sculpture project. Organizers prefer online entries and request any paper entry forms be returned to Shepherd Gallery and Creativity Center by mail or in person at 214 S. River Park Drive, Guttenberg, by Monday, June 15. For more information, call 563.252.2787.

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