The next step for the Tower View Team in preparation for another alley space for the public to enjoy was completed in early August. The canopy was removed with the steel beams saved to use for the artwork involved in the three arches. Sculpture David Williamson will continue to work with the Tower View Team along with students in Greene County Schools and Paton-Churdan Schools, and interested residents in creating the design for the three arches. The work will continue this fall during the school year.
The long-awaited HomeTown Teams exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution has arrived, been unpacked by volunteers, and getting ready to open to the public on Saturday, Aug. 11. The exhibit is located at the Greene County Historical Museum at 219 E Lincoln Way in Jefferson. Admission is free. The Big Red Radio of KDLS will be at the museum from 10 a.m. – Noon on Aug. 11.
The exhibit is open to the public during these hours:
Saturdays – 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sundays – Noon – 6 p.m.
Wednesdays – 1 – 6 p.m.
Thursdays – 3 – 9 p.m.
School tours or other group tours are scheduled by contacting Main Street Director Peg Raney at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 515-386-3585.
From Tower, Jefferson is a Giant Canvas
You can see a lot of things from the top of the bell tower that rises 168 feet over the Jefferson square. You can see the Greene County Courthouse, the surrounding neighborhoods, the water towers and grain silos that spike the horizon in every direction.
But it takes a certain kind of vision to create the kind of public artwork that earned a 2018 Governor’s Arts Award during the recent Iowa Arts Summit. A team of Jefferson artists and volunteers used the Mahanay Bell Tower as a centerpiece for an ambitious project that transformed the town square into an outdoor art gallery, complete with rooftop murals that can be seen from the tower’s observation deck.
“That was the driving point for developing new public art and community development,” said Peg Raney, executive director of the Jefferson Matters: Main Street program. “We thought, ‘What can you see from the tower?’”
Plenty, actually — and even more now, thanks to some creativity and hard work.
Local artists and volunteers installed sculptures around the courthouse. They added artwork to an alley they renamed “Sally’s Alley,” which recently was featured on National Public Radio. To welcome the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, they set up a public piano painted with portraits of RAGBRAI founders John Karras and Donald Kaul and former RAGBRAI host Chuck Offenburger, who lives nearby.
Local artists also painted murals on the rooftops of three downtown businesses, along with sidewalk art that is visible only when it rains. The projects give visitors another good reason to ride the elevator to the top of the Mahanay Bell Tower, which was built in the 1960s with about $350,000 that a local man named Floyd Mahanay left in his will. A plaque dedicates the tower “to the glory of God and as a gift to the people of Greene County.”
The gift keeps on giving. Locals used the lofty perch to see their town’s potential as a cultural destination.
“We appreciate that these projects in rural communities are being recognized,” Raney said of the Governor’s Arts Award. “(It) empowers small communities who view art as economic development to move forward and draw people to their community.”
Next up? The group is developing another art project called “Arch Alley,” which will add artwork to some of downtown’s historic arches.
— Jeff Morgan, Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs
Next week presents several events to kick-off the HomeTown Teams exhibit in Jefferson. On Tuesday, Aug. 7th at the Farmer’s Market, the Greene County Singers will be performing fight songs from around Greene County – both past and present – at 5:30 pm on the south side of the courthouse. Those attending will be invited to sing along.
The Sierra Community Theatre Board is sponsoring two free sports-related movies during the week. On Aug. 6th & 7th “A League of Their Own” will be presented at 7 p.m. with a matinee at 2 p.m on Aug. 7th. On Aug. 8th & 9th “Field of Dreams will show at 7 p.m. with a matinee at 2 p.m. on Aug. 9th.
Volunteers with the HomeTown Teams exhibit through Jefferson Matters: Main Street will have a booth with schedules for the six-week free exhibit. A photo op with authentic Greene County sports uniforms will be available at the Farmer’s Market on Aug. 7th, Hot August Nights on Aug. 9th, the first GCHS football scrimmage on Aug. 17th, and the Pep Rally on Aug. 21st. Local media will be publishing the dates and hours also.
The location for the Smithsonian traveling exhibit will be at the Greene County Historical Museum at 219 E Lincoln Way. The exhibit will be open on Saturday, Aug. 11 and go through Sunday, September 23. Hours are Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Sundays from Noon – 6 p.m.; Wednesdays from 1 – 6 p.m.; and Thursdays from 3 – 9 p.m. The exhibit will be staffed by volunteers. School tours for Greene County Community Schools and Paton-Churdan Schools have been scheduled. Other school tours or group tours can be scheduled by emailing email@example.com or calling 515-386-3585.