Hydrant painting winners announced

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From left are third prize winners representing Fidelity Bank, Amanda Garlow and Abby White, and first prize winner Peggi Degnan with her dog, Theo. Not pictured is Rabecca Hennessey, second place winner. (Press photo by Molly Moser)

By Molly Moser

Nearly 500 votes flooded in for this year’s summer sculpture project hosted by Umbrella Arts, an initiative of Guttenberg Gallery and Creativity Center. The group held its third annual event this summer, and it proved to be the most successful one yet.

Late in the spring, Umbrella Arts members Karen Riser and Lori Wallace asked the City of Guttenberg for permission to paint the city’s fire hydrants. They invited businesses, organizations, and community members to come up with a design, choose a hydrant and apply for permission, emphasizing hydrants along Highway 52, River Park Drive, and Schiller Street. Their goal was to have 15-20 of the city’s 154 hydrants decorated, but the project doubled that ambition with forty hydrants painted in June. 

Public voting took place online during a two-week period at the beginning of July, and winners were announced at last week’s River of Music concert. First prize and $100 Guttenberg Bucks was awarded to Peggi Degnan, top vote getter for her rescue dog hydrant located at the corner of River Park Drive and Goethe Street. The hydrant was inspired by her own rescue dog, Theo, characterized by his pug nose and often-visible pink tongue.

Second prize and $75 Guttenberg Bucks was awarded to local artist Rabecca Hennessey for Inga, her hydrant-turned-German fraulein. The coquettish hydrant, located at 516 S. River Park Drive, was painted specifically for GermanFest. “I actually knew a woman from Germany named Inga who looked a lot like that,” laughed the artist.  

Third place and a $50 prize went to a dollar-themed hydrant at the corner of Highway 52 and Herder Street, painted by Fidelity Bank and supported by many employees at the polls. Honorable mentions were awarded to several other hydrants, including one painted by eight-year-old Zoey Hyde.

After seeing other hydrants being painted around town, Zoey and her mom, Crystal, applied online to paint one near their house. “I asked her what she wanted to paint, and she said she wanted to paint the river,” Crystal told The Press. Zoey, the youngest artist in this year’s contest, described her hydrant as, “the one of the river view. It has trees, a boat, an eagle flying, the sun and clouds. I just wanted to try it. My favorite part was to see how it ended up.” Zoey says she was pleased with the results, which are displayed at 622 S. 1st Street. 

Two members of Cub Scout Pack 40, led by Teresa Devaney, participated in the project in the spirit of community service. Nathaniel Edwards and Wesley Devaney painted a fire fighter at South 2nd and Pearl Street as well as a stars and stripes hydrant at the corner of Main Street and River Park Drive. "They had so much fun," said Devaney. "They went out and washed the hydrants first to make sure that everything was off of them, then they stood there and drew out what they were going to do, and then proceeded to paint them." The boys, age nine, spent two hours on each hydrant, and are excited to see their work in the community. 

Among the dozens of creative entries was a stein with Guttenberg’s street names near city hall, a masked robber across the street from People’s State Bank, an ark with a message of peace at the corner of 1st and Pearl Streets, and a one-eyed monster at 2nd and Goethe. Where’s Waldo, Tigger, Bob the Builder, a Minion, a Lego man and Pac Man showed up in the contest, as did several German and American themed hydrants. There were also hydrants in support of ending Alzheimers and ‘flushing out’ cancer.  

The contest even garnered attention from the Telegraph Herald. All the hydrants are still visible online at www.guttenbergcreativitycenter.com by clicking on Umbrella Arts. A poster including photographs of each hydrant is located at the Welcome Center. 

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