Fairfield Ledger

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Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 15, 2018

Cultural alliance honors local artists

By Andy Hallman, Ledger news editor | Nov 20, 2017
Photo by: ANDY HALLMAN/Ledger photo Fairfield Cultural Alliance president Denyce Rusch shows the audience a quilt she received from Northside Strippers 10 years ago, which has become a family heirloom.

The Fairfield Cultural Alliance held its annual arts and culture celebration Tuesday at ICON Gallery.

The organization announced the winners of its mini-grants and the set of distinguished honorees who have made a significant contribution to the town’s arts and culture. Local artist Michael Dugan treated attendees to a trio of songs he sang and played guitar on.

Mayor Ed Malloy spoke about the strides Fairfield has made in the past year, such as completing the downtown facade restoration project. He also mentioned the downtown might be in line for another overhaul, since the transportation committee plans to study returning the square to all two-way streets like it was many years ago.



Northside Strippers

FCA president Denyce Rusch held up a quilt to the audience, remarking that it was one she received 10 years ago and had become a family heirloom. The quilt was courtesy of Judy Herzog and the Northside Strippers, the first group to receive special recognition Tuesday night.

Herzog leads the quilting group by organizing ways to share its quilts with the Fairfield community, including hanging them in the atrium of the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center. The displays are changed every month, sometimes more often.

Rusch said Herzog and the Northside Strippers work hard on the annual quilt show in the convention center where quilters from all over the region bring their wares for show and sale. Quilts are also displayed in shop windows during Fairfield First Fridays. The group also makes quilts for distribution to children in crisis and for others as the need is known.


Lee Gobble statue artists

“Something, you might say, monumental also happened this year,” Rusch began. “The Lee Gobble sculpture project took over two years from idea to completion and brought together members of the [Fairfield] Art Association, the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center, and the city of Fairfield plus many more to make it happen. We especially want to honor the artists themselves.”

The “Lee T. Gobble II – Mr. Fairfield” statue was unveiled outside the convention center during a ceremony in early October. Gobble owned Gobble’s Clothier Store, incidentally in the same building that hosted Tuesday night’s awards ceremony. He died in April 2015 at age 100. His statue features buttons alluding to the passions in his life, such as the Fairfield Trojans, Iowa Hawkeyes and Parsons College.

Chris Bennett was the lead artist and sculptor. Ken Rowe created the head and hands. Mark Shafer designed the tile base depicting Gobble’s extensive necktie collection. Harri Aalto took Shafer’s designs and made tiles from them. Werner Elmker photographed the project as it progressed from one stage to the next.


Elaine Reding and Chamber Singers of Southeast Iowa

The Chamber Singers of Southeast Iowa was founded in 1991, originally called the M.U.M. Chamber Singers. Since its inception, the singers have been led by Elaine Reding. The Fairfield Cultural Alliance honored Reding and the chamber singers with the Cultural Achievement and Legacy Award for 2017.

“Elaine is the driving force and intelligence behind every aspect of this quality community chorus, including music selection, concert programming, rehearsal and performance arrangements, instrumental enhancements, publicity and much, much more,” Rusch said.

The chamber singers received great news in the summer of 2016 when they learned they would perform in one of the country’s most pretigious venues: Carnegie Hall in Manhattan. Nineteen chamber singers became part of a 180-person international choir that performed in January. Reding spearheaded fundraising and was instrumental in organizing all the details of the group’s trip to New York City.

Reding wanted the choir’s fans back in Fairfield to see the performance, too, so she organized a showing of the concert in the convention center in late February. She told the audience that when she first received a letter saying the group was being considered to sing at Carnegie Hall, she was incredulous.

“This was such a surprise that I thought it was a mistake,” she said.


Grant recipients

The FCA was happy to distribute Cultural Trust Fund mini-grants to worthy projects in the community.

“The FCA knows the small grants are a drop-in-the-bucket sometimes for what folks might need, but they do show support,” Rusch said.

The list of recipients and how each plans to use its grant is as follows:

1) Fairfield Arts & Convention Center – for an executive mobile lectern for its stage and meeting rooms.

2) Greater Fairfield Area Habitat for Humanity – to publicize Habitat Restore in surrounding areas to increase awareness.

3) Southeast Iowa Blues Society – to promote its concert “Rockin’ in the Blue Year,” on Dec. 30.

4) Young Professionals of Fairfield – for membership expansion events.

5) Fair Field Production – to publicize its latest documentary film, “Heroes of Fairfield,” coming out summer 2018.

6) Fairfield First Foundation – for Werner Elmker’s photography work.

7) Organ committee of the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center – to upgrade the pipes of the Barhydt organ from metal to wood.

8) Carnegie Museum Foundation – for website development to increase tourism.

9) Everybody Sings Chorus – for its upcoming concert, “Hymnody of Earth,” in 2018.

For more, email the FCA at fairfieldculturalalliance@gmail.com.


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