Arts group celebrates 10-years

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Umbrella Arts has accomplished many lofty goals and maintained a strong membership for the past ten years. Front from left are Myron Thiese, Sherry Oliver, Lee Johnston, Juanita Loven, Katherine Brown and Suzy Black; back row, Becky Shaffer, Ann Korczyk, Lori Kann, Karilyn McArthur, Gail Larson, Matt Esser, Diane Schilling, Julie Rastetter, Pat Burroughs, Tim Manson, Laura Manson, Richard Larson and Diane Thiese. (Press photo by Caroline Rosacker)

By Caroline Rosacker

On a cold evening on Jan. 24, 2014, an exploratory meeting was held at the home of Juanita and the late Russell Loven of Guttenberg. 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. 

Throughout the past ten years the volunteer arts group has accomplished many lofty goals  and maintained a strong membership. They currently have 20-24 members who actively attend their dinners and meetings, and other volunteers  they can call on to assist when needed for projects and events. 

UA board members are Sherry Oliver, president; Laura Manson, vice president; Matt Esser, treasurer; Myron Thiese, assistant treasurer and Ann Korczyk, secretary. 

Since 2014, Umbrella Arts has been a key element in bringing art, in all its various forms, to Guttenberg residents and visitors. Through the group's dedication, determination and generosity, several art programs have taken root in the community. Most notable are the River of Music Series, Summer Art Expression/Sculpture Contest, Fall Chill, Historic Limestone Planter project, and the Outdoor Musical Instrument Park (Harmony Platz). 

The group also participates in Guttenberg's Stars & Stripes and Holiday Parade with float entries and lends support to the German Fest. 

River of Music Concert Series

Sherry Oliver is grateful for Juanita Loven, the group's visionary. "I was retired and became involved in Juanita's book club. She presented the idea to our group and we ran with it," Oliver explained. "I am a music person, so I brainstormed the River of Music (ROM) concert series. I wanted to provide something free for families, and to encourage local residents to stay in town on Friday nights."

The concert series has grown throughout the years and become quite popular with tourists and other surrounding communities. "Our live music events are fun for all ages. Just bring a blanket or a lawn chair, something to eat or drink, and enjoy a variety of professional musicians. We provide an extended performance on holiday weekends when our community's population grows with visiting friends, family members and tourists."

All hands on deck

The concert series requires the effort of many dedicated members to ensure the success of the weekly seasonal event. Oliver seeks out the entertainment options that are available within the group's budget, supporting local bands first and widening her search after that, makes arrangements for all the marketing and signage, and the week-to-week activities. 

Longtime member M.J. Smith and Dr. Alicia Walke are working together to coordinate sponsors for the 2023 summer concert series. 

Umbrella Arts members help Oliver distribute the ROM posters throughout Guttenberg and neighboring areas, are encouraged to host a Friday night concert, and assist with freewill collection during concert intermission.

School Bus Performance Series

Umbrella Arts provides the opportunity for Clayton Ridge students in two grades to participate in the University of Dubuque School Bus Performance Series. The ongoing event is open to public, private/parochial, home school and accredited pre-school and day care organizations. Children attending must be at least four years old. 

This year  Clayton Ridge 4th and 5th graders  attended a live production of "Benjamin Franklin and His Kite, or the Wizard of Oz" at the University of Dubuque. "A portion of the proceeds from the ROM series goes toward this program, giving students an opportunity to attend a cultural event,” she noted. 

Fall Chill

In October, the ambitious arts group plans a Fall Chill Event held at Lakeside Ballroom in Guttenberg.

This year’s event is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 14, and will be "Beatlemania Tribute." Past events include: The OK Factor, The Sinatra Experience, The Dueling Pianos, The Hunter Fuerste Orchestra, and Tribute to Billy Joel and Elton John. "We are grateful for the past support from the Guttenberg Rotary Club when planning this yearly event," shared Oliver.

Beautification projects 

Money raised and donated to Umbrella Arts has been used to support the group's ongoing beautification of the community's historic downtown business district. "We have partnered with Joy Meyer and Jessi Eulberg, and are so grateful for their contribution!" Oliver said with gratitude. "Our group gives them a budget to use for the planning and planting for each season throughout the year." 

She continued, "We are also thankful for the City of Guttenberg who maintains and waters the planters that make our downtown area attractive for local residents and visitors to our town.”

Join now

Umbrella Arts meets the third Tuesday of each month, with the exception of February and November; a communal meal begins at 5:00 p.m. followed by a business meeting at 6:00. 

For additional information see online at Umbrella Arts Facebook page that is kept up-to-date by Emily Moser Sadewasser, or phone 563-252-3462.

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