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Projection Art celebrates Ottumwa's diversity


TTUMWA — Believing that the diversity of people in Ottumwa is something to be celebrated, Main Street Ottumwa and the Ottumwa Area Arts Council commissioned a projection art piece for the newly renovated Canteen Alley.

“It’s all finally coming together,” Holly Berg said.

The Iowa Arts Council awarded Main Street and the Arts Council a $10,000 Art Builds Communities grant to help fund the project. “We received the grant last year,” Berg said. “You [have to] tie it into some kind of community issue. You tie it into some kind of theme. We wanted to tie it into diversity, which is something they liked.”

What is projection art? “It’s just like it sounds,” Berg said. “It’s artwork that is on a projector. Projection art pieces might be some words, or a shape, or you can have a short interpretive movie.”

The art piece that will be projected into Canteen Alley is called Patchwork, Berg said. The video projection features short video clips of more than 60 community members of various ages and ethnicities “stitched together to show the fabric of the community.”

The projection will appear in the evening, illuminating a portion of the alley, Berg said. “The plan is for it to be mounted on the parking ramp and projected across the alley.”

Organizers are working with Eyes and Ears Audio Visual Solutions to find the right equipment for the job.

The Arts Builds Communities grant pairs recipients with universities, Berg said. “We had assistance from the University of Northern Iowa. We had the concept but didn’t really have where we were going with it. So we worked with them, and an instructor there said, you know who you need to talk to is Andre Wright.”

Wright, of Iowa City, is the creator and owner of the clothing brand BLU Collar, which stands for Born Leaders United, according to Iowa City Area Development. As an entrepreneur and mentor, he helps business owners create distinct brands.

Wright will present a fashion show featuring multicultural streetwear fashion at the July 13 unveiling of the Canteen projection art. Organizers didn’t want the unveiling of the art to last five or six minutes, Berg said, so they added the fashion show to create an evening event.

Wright’s show will precede the unveiling of the artwork. “He’s got four local models,” said Berg, “and then they’ll be six or so additional models coming in.”

The unveiling is scheduled for Friday, July 13, beginning with social hour and music at 7:30. The BLU fashion show will begin at 8:30 followed by the projection of Patchwork into the alley.

The event is free. Food will be available for purchase on site.

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