MUSCATINE, IOWA (June 9, 2021) — In December 2020, the Public Art Advisory Commission for the City of Muscatine announced two new public art projects — murals for retaining walls on Houser Street and concept design proposals for the area near the roundabout at Mulberry Avenue and Second Street. Three organizations responded to the call to submit mural concepts while fourteen artists submitted applications for the roundabout public art project.
The Public Art Advisory Commission is pleased to announce that the Friends of the Fairport Fish Hatcher and Calvary Church will complete murals for the retaining wall on Houser near the intersection with Hershey Avenue. The two murals are expected to be completed by October. The Advisory Commission is also working with a third organization, LULAC, on a mural concept for a location in downtown Muscatine.
The Friends of the Fish Hatchery’s mural will be completed by Janet Hoopes to share “the rich and significant history of the Fairport Biological Station and its important ties to the pearl button industry.” While artist Johan Umana from Calvary Church hopes to bring positive messages to the community through his work. Umana recently completed a mural for the Muscatine Prevent Violence Coalition and shares his message of “Live to Love”.
For the roundabout public art project, the Advisory Commission carefully considered each application, selecting its top three artists — Daniel Miller, Nathan Pierce, and Greg Muller, as well as two alternate artists. The Advisory Commission found these three artists to have relevant prior experience, the ability to create a work that is unique to Muscatine, and the potential to develop a concept that would resonate with the local community. The three artists will spend this summer developing their ideas and will submit their proposals with drawings, a budget, timeline, and installation-requirements by September 7, 2021. The proposals will then be shared with the broader community, and there will be opportunities for the public to provide feedback, helping to determine which of the three artists will then implement the selected plan in 2022. For their concept development work, artists will receive a stipend of $750 paid from a Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine Impact Grant.
Each artist will bring their own unique flair to the community. Gregg Muller of Lutsen Mountain, Minnesota, describes this well when considering the unique tie between art and history, “our intention is to synchronize thoughtful design with the symbolism of the Muscatine Story.” Mueller received his MFA in Sculpture from Montana State University School of Art and has completed commissions in states from Ohio to South Dakota.
Daniel Miller, Associate Professor in the School of Art and Art History at the University of Iowa, states that he wants his projects to “engage and interact with communities, enhancing public centers and gathering spaces.” In a recent commission for Webster City, Miller installed an outdoor sculpture that echoes the “meandering shape of the Boone River and transforms it into a stylized functional bench made from stainless steel that emits light.”
Nathan Peirce of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, has a BFA in Sculpture and has completed a wide range of commissions and public art installations. In his artist statement, Pierce explains, “I love the surprise that we get from seeing out of the ordinary things in ordinary places.” Pierce’s work reminds the viewer that art can be used to blur the lines between people and place.
Each of the selected artists and organizations have unique messages and abilities to increase Muscatine’s vibrancy through creative placemaking. Muscatine’s Public Art Advisory Commission formed in July 2019, and the five community members appointed by City Council are joined by one staff member from the Muscatine Art Center and one from the Parks and Recreation Department.
“It is really exciting to move into the next phase for both of these projects,” explains Melanie Alexander, Staff Liaison to the Advisory Commission. “Members of the group have been considering these projects and talking with artists for the last half year, and we are eager to share the news with the community.”